When you’re starting a business, it’s crucial to think about the kind of impressions you want to make. You may want to appear friendly, humorous or fun, but above all else, you should look professional. No matter what kind of business you run, appearing professional to customers and suppliers is essential.
People form first impressions about you in just 7 seconds, and that goes for your business too. If you want people to consider you as a serious business, you need to appear as professional as possible as quickly as you can. Accomplishing that when you’re just starting can be a daunting task.
To help you get started, here are 10 ways you can make your business look more professional:
1. Create a Professional Website
If you want to succeed in today’s business landscape, you need to have a website. You also need to make your site as clean and professional as possible. It doesn’t need an abundance of bells and whistles, but it should look neat, be easy to navigate and provide sufficient information.
Services like Squarespace or Wix can help you create a professional site with no web design experience. Be sure to pay for your own domain name instead of using a free option. Unique domains are easier to remember and look more professional.
2. Use Consistent Branding
Your branding across all platforms should deliver a consistent aesthetic and message. On top of reinforcing your image, branding consistency makes you look more put-together and business-minded. Make sure your business cards, website, social media pages and storefront all share colors, images and logos.
Even your stationery and packaging should reflect your brand. You don’t need to force every logo and image you have into every platform, but everything should match. If it doesn’t, you could come across as sloppy or careless.
3. Have a Dedicated Business Phone Number
Even in today’s digital age, phone calls aren’t dead yet. According to one survey, 60% of customers still prefer to contact businesses over the phone. Given the prevalence of phone calls, you should ensure you have a dedicated number for your company.
If you use your personal number for business, you may respond too casually to callers. You could go with a landline for your company or use a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service to use a new number on the same devices. If you want to look even more professional, you could get an 800 number.
4. Get a Business Email Address
If you use a Yahoo or Gmail address for your business, it can seem unprofessional. Not only does it look like you’re using a personal address, but that account could belong to anyone, so it could seem unsafe. An email address that matches your domain, on the other hand, instantly makes you look more professional.
Unique email addresses through G Suite or Office 365 are affordable, too. For just a few dollars a month per address, you can make your company appear far larger and more established than it is.
5. Use a P.O. Box
Your email isn’t the only address you should pay attention to. While customers may not contact you via mail, you need a place for partners and suppliers to send things. If you don’t have a physical storefront or office space, you can use a P.O. box for your mail.
You can get similar options from companies like UPS so you can receive packages from more than just USPS. On top of helping you appear more professional, using these measures will ensure your business mail stays safe.
6. Spruce Up Your Landscaping
If you have a brick-and-mortar location, you’ll want to make the exterior as attractive as possible. A specific area to pay attention to is the landscaping, where subtle changes can make a significant difference. A quick trim of the hedges or planting some flowers can go a long way.
You can use fresh mulch chips to make any grassy or muddy areas look neat and tidy. A layer of mulch around a walkway will help keep the path clear of mud as well.
7. Pay Attention to Your Social Media Pages
If you don’t have any social media pages for your business, you need to change that. You shouldn’t just set these up and then leave them alone, either. You should update these pages often, using them to inform customers about any news and engaging with users.
Keep your branding and messaging consistent across all social platforms. You don’t need to be on every website, but having an active presence on a few social sites will help you seem more professional.
8. Get Professional Business Cards
Business cards are a tried-and-true way to get your name and contact info out there. If you don’t have one to give someone at the end of a meeting, you could look unprepared. A business card reinforces the idea that you’re a legitimate company.
You should also avoid free business cards, as these usually carry the name of the printing company. These make it look like you can’t afford a nonbranded card, and it’s free advertising for another business.
9. Avoid Relaxing When It Comes to Payment
When you’re just starting, it can be tempting to let some clients get away with late or missing payments. The desire to be seen as casual or friendly is understandable, but part of being professional is collecting prompt payment. Establish a way to invoice customers quickly and professionally.
More than 70% of freelancers have trouble getting paid at some point, so this isn’t a unique problem. As such, there are plenty of resources available to help you create a professional invoice system.
10. Dress for Success
The way you and your employees dress impacts what customers and potential partners think of you. If your dress code is overly casual, people may not take you seriously as a business. You may not need to wear a suit every day or wear a full uniform, but your appearance should fit your business.
Requiring employees to dress in business-casual attire may be enough. Having simple, branded shirts or nametags can help customers identify employees. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here, but make sure you look neat and put-together with a dress code that fits your industry.
Make a Better First Impression
You can communicate a lot in a first impression. Above all else, though, you should try to convey that your business is professional. It will help customers and other companies see you as a more serious and trustworthy consideration.
Follow these 10 steps to make your business look more professional. With these simple, straightforward methods, a company of any size can look like an industry veteran.