I was inspired to write this blog post after attending FlyingSolo Live in Sydney recently. One of the best speakers on the day was Andrew Griffiths an Aussie who has done very well in business in Australia. His keynote speech at FlyingSolo Live talked about his personal and business journey and how he once trusted a business adviser who came his way during tough times who turned around his ailing business and promoted him into the A-League of small business entrepreneurs.
One of the things that Andrew spoke about on the day which I could totally relate to was how small business must think and act big. This is something I worked on in the early days of my business, before we had an office and staff, when I was working on my own from my home office.
It is easy today to create a website and sell your wares to the world online. A great looking website is a must and is often one of the first things any potential client sees so good first impressions are essential. But alot of small and micro businesses start to fail when you look closer at the detail of the business. Here are four quick and easy things to work on to swell the image of your business:
Tip 1: Use A Real Address For Your Business
Yes a PO box is handy, send all your bills there, forget them and hope they go away. But when potential clients see this the bells start to ring. Is this a legitimate business? Why don’t they have an office? Whereabouts are they located?
This one is quite easy to fix. Use your home address except add a Suite number to the first line. So for example if you live and work at:27 Harold Street, Suburbia, NSW 2000
Simply add the Suite to address line:Suite 1, 27 Harold Street, Suburbia, NSW 2000
Don’t worry this doesn’t confuse your postie, he or she will still deliver your post.
Tip2: Email Address
This is my pet hate. Nothing gives away a small or micro business more than using an ISP or free email address as your primary business email address. By that I mean BigPond, Optus, Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail email addresses. Every business should have a website, no question. If you have a website you have your own domain name, you must use that domain name for all your business emails.
I see this all the time, especially from people who apply for a job with The Transcription People. I will get an introduction email with a resume attached “Hello I have been running a small business for X years and would love to work with The Transcription People …” invariably the email signature block will have something like firstname.lastname@example.org BUT when you look at the sender the email is from email@example.com !!
Worse still, I get an email from someone using Hotmail or Yahoo with a “Find Singles Near You” advert at the bottom of the email, not very professional.
Do not redirect your business domain emails to your home ISP or free email address. No excuse, if you have a domain name use it for your business emails. You can either do this by configuring the email that you pay for which comes with your web hosting or switch to something like Google Mail for Business.
Tip 3: Phone Number
Times are changing, in the not so distant days gone by it was a faux pas to list your mobile phone number as your only contact number, mainly due to the exorbitant call costs to mobiles. Those days have gone and it is more acceptable to put your mobile number on your contact page, but not as your only contact number. Remember, small business thinking and acting big. Look to get a 1300 (local rate) or 1800 (free call) number, doesn’t have to be something meaningful as your first number like 1300 I AM GR8 any 1300 or 1800 has the look and feel of a “real” business. If you live and work on your mobile simply have the 1300/1800 routed directly to your mobile. The costs involved in setting up and maintaining a local rate (1300) or freecall (1800) number is minimal for the effect it has.
Tip 4: GST
Before you roll your eyes or start the whole “I don’t earn enough for GST” comment just stop and have a think. How many professional companies do you deal with, day to day, who charge you GST, I am willing to bet all of them. So, why not join join them? Small businesses who turnover less than $75,000 a year are not required to register for GST but you can optionally register for GST – ATO details here. You should already be accounting for your sales and purchases so it should be easy to account for that extra 10% tax. You will be required to lodge a BAS (Business Activity Statement) every quarter, yes only four times a year, no big deal. The extra 10% of income you receive and hold onto for the government for a couple of months can come in handy sometimes if cash flow becomes tight, the 10% rebate on any purchase is always worth having. Of course always talk to your tax professional before you do this.
These are four quick and easy tips to help move you and your business forward.