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Cheap, Easy Ways to Polish Your Small Business's Image

I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on the new BNET webcast "The Live 1." Most of our discussion was about how to make your small business look bigger.

The show expanded on a column I wrote back in February, offering advice on easy, inexpensive (or free) ways that you can present your new or small businesses in the best possible light, look more established, and build an image of substance and credibility to customers, suppliers and others with whom you'll be dealing.

You can watch the full episode here, and find a few additional image-enhancement tips below the video:


And here are a few more things you can do to polish your startup/small company image:

  • Use proper accounting software from day one. Aside from the prudence of good record keeping and keeping good books from the start, you want your forms (invoices, statements, checks, packing lists, etc.) to look as professional as possible. Getting an invoice mocked up in a Word document screams "I'm working in my basement." Even if you are working in your basement, invest in software like Quicken or Quickbooks, which are the most popular small business accounting packages. They are easy to use and full of great features, not only to help you manage and track your business, but to create quality forms and documents.
  • Publicize yourself! Send good quality, professional press releases out whenever you have newsworthy announcements. Grand opening, new hires, expansion, major new partnership or business deal, new building... all of these are worthy of sending to your local paper(s) business journals, even TV and radio stations. Some may even be worth sending beyond your local business area. The more people see you and your business in the news, the bigger and more credible your image becomes.
  • Clean up your email act. It is amazing how many "business" emails I still get in purple Comic Sans font. As I've written about before, even in the age of rapid-fire communication, some degree of quality and professionalism still counts. Use clean, businesslike typefaces, avoid color, text shortcuts, smileys and other "creative" treatments. Create a professional email signature. And avoid using email to promote your personal agenda -- religious beliefs, favorite quotes, words of wisdom. Few, if any, readers are interested, and some may be put off. I know many high-level people at major companies who include interesting and innocuous motivational quotes in their signatures, and there's no great harm in it, but in my opinion it is more professional to keep business correspondence, well, businesslike.
Entrepreneurs, are there other things you've done to give your small business a bigger, more polished image? Please share your own thoughts and experiences.

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Flickr photo courtesy of jikatu, CC 2.0