Give Your Startup A Professional Launch
Let’s kick start this blog with a little dollop of optimism, shall we: it’s never been easier to launch a business. How cool is that? That means it’s never been easier to escape the clutches of a mundane 9 to five, swap your terrible micromanaging boss with no one and start getting financially rewarded for the effort you put in. It may not be ‘the dream’, but it has to be a few more rungs up than the ladder than the alternatives.
That said, being a success story isn’t as simple as just diving in and winging it. We wish it was, but it ain’t. There are certain things you’ll want to have nailed down before you take the plunge and most of them revolve around the need to make an impossibly awesome first impression. After all, as the age-old adage reminds us: you only get one shot at a memorable entrance, so don’t muff it up.
That’s why we’ve gone and done the modern day martyr thing of pulling together a list of things you’ll want to absolutely nail in order to appear impossibly professional from the outset.
1. A Website That Wows
There are now 1.3 billion websites out there, clogging up the internet, so you need to make sure yours does something different from the others. We know that may sound tough because, let’s face it, the odds are against you. But we’ve seen a few websites recently that have absolutely blown us away, such as the Copper Milk Creative website, which keeps you clicking through every page just to keep reading, which is handy because they do copywriting. That said, your website doesn’t have to be this wow. But it does have to be super-professional. Make it reflect your brand, display the sort of information your customers will want to access, make it user-friendly, encourage people to contact you, what services you offer and have nice imagery. One thing that some startups seem to be doing is having pages that read ‘Coming Soon’ or ‘Under Construction’. Don’t do this. Even if you just have one webpage, make it a ruddy good one.
2. Perfect Email Address
Nothing is going to worry people more than telling them to email you at suchandsuch[at]googlemail.dotcom. Alarm bells will ring out like the sirens on a European police car. It’s not just that it doesn’t look professional, it’s also because it’s far from secure and that’s a big topic right now. Instead, you absolutely need to get an email address that matches your website domain name, which is neither tricky to setup or expensive to maintain. It’s like $5 a month or less. Another tip on the email front is to avoid using just your first name. Have something like hello@suchandsuch or george.smith@suchandsuch. This will give people the impression you aren’t a solopreneur but the head of a larger team. Clever.
3. Professionalise Your Phone
If you go onto Google, search for a business so that you can get their telephone number, and then find out it is a mobile number, your face is going to scrunch up tighter than a balled fist. But that’s not the only thing that is going to put a dash of worry into a customer. The other thing that will draw out a quizzical expression will be you answering your business number with a, ”hello?” rather than a professional greeting. It’s about inspiring confidence at every turn. That’s why you need a professional business number or, better yet, some virtual services that will ensure your a professional receptionist answers your calls in the right manner. It’s not expensive to set up, it can be added to your current cell phone and it will up your appearance no end. Basically, you need to spend the handful of dollars it will cost because it could make you crazy amounts.
4. Address Is Everything
Once again, using a Google search as the starting point, which it is for almost everyone these days, you really want to have a business address to give you that extra layer of bubble wrap - the kind that installs both privacy and professionalism. The problem with this is, well, you’re a startup and the idea of having a physical office is not that attractive. Thankfully, there are a couple of things you can do. First of all, you could get a shared working space, which people are getting used to. The other thing you can do is get yourself a PO Box and then have this as your street address. It’s the little things.
5. Invoices Are Important
The trick to a successful business is getting paid, which is what makes invoicing so important. But don’t just send them your bill on a napkin. No way. It will only prevent clients from taking you seriously and that’s where you can find the money you’re owed getting delayed or worse. Instead, what you want to do is have a contract people sign and a means of getting prompt payment. Thankfully, there are a lot of accounting platforms out there you can use to help you with this. Another thing you can do - and this is a neat little trick - is start your accounting with an 8. Make it something like 801. That way you’ll look like you’ve done plenty of work and not give off the impression this is your first gig.
6. Social Media Superpowers
Let’s get something straight. You don’t need to put your brand on every single social media platform out there. No way. That would make life way too complicated. Instead, what you should do is have a look at what platforms are out there, what your business offers, and see where your customers are congregating. Once you have this, grab that social media handle as quick as you can’t and come up with a growth strategy. Doing this has transformed so many retail businesses, even those with a relatively small following, such as Mangata London who outsourced their social media management needs.
The point is: perception is reality