You don’t have to have a lot of employees to be a major player in any industry. Tech giants like Wikimedia, Automattic (Wordpress), Tumblr and Craigslist all operate with under 100 employees.
What all growing businesses need is a set of tools that let them present a professional image so they can establish a good reputation in the marketplace. Like the old career advice, “Dress for the kind of job you want,” the small business equivalent of that is:
“Craft the professional brand image of the business you want to become.”
These tools will help your SMB look like a big company, which it could be soon, and land the kind of clients that will fund your next growth cycle.
A coworking membership downtown
Leases in prime business districts are out of this world, generally. For small businesses operating on tight margins, a zip code like that is an impossible dream. Now that dream is real. You can get a membership at a coworking space and meet clients in a state-of-the-art office, a teleconferencing board room or an event space. There’s often a kitchen for a more informal gathering. Even if you are just corresponding by mail, you can claim a zip code in the city’s best business district.
Hootsuite for total social management
There are plenty of online platforms that can manage your entire social presence from a single dashboard, but Hootsuite was one of the first. You don’t have the time to be on social constantly, but you can easily set up a stream dedicated to social listening so you can be notified when someone says something to or about you. Jump on and respond as soon as you can to make it look like you have a marketing department assigned to customer experience.
A business email address
A website used to be considered essential for doing business online, but the mobile revolution has changed the rules. Today, a website that displays poorly on mobile can hurt you chance of getting found. Local search, social profiles and ecommerce aggregators like BigCommerce.com and put you in front of your audience with a more professional image. Even if you don’t have a website though, you need a business email domain. Automated email campaigns should come from a business email account, which normally comes with a website’s domain. You can buy professional email domains, though, for just a few dollars a month at Google, Microsoft or your hosting provider. An email looks much more trustworthy when it comes from something like Yourname@youcompanyname.com than from an insecure free account.
Spoke for a full-featured phone system inside an app
Imagine wrapping up the essential features of an enterprise phone system, then throwing away the expensive parts and the frustration of installing it. What you are left with is a big company phone system at a small company price that downloads onto your mobile phone in 3 minutes. Employees are already forwarding their calls to their personal phones and giving out their own numbers instead of the company line. You can reduce your communications expense by 80% and let employees use the mobile devices they prefer.
While you grow the company, demonstrate the kind of reliability that customers should expect when they conduct business with you. Give them something to believe in. You now have the tools to present your business as a professional organization that can afford a downtown address and an AI attendant that will reroute calls as needed. Download an actually free trial (no credit card required) of the Spoke professional phone network so you can get back to the basics of building a customer base.