The harsh truth is that just because a home based business is profitable does not mean people view it as a legitimate business. This can become quite frustrating for friends or family to call the business a side hustle or a hobby. Other potential clients or business partners might also think that the operation that is being running is not up to par with what they need to be done.
The facts are that there are things that can be done that can drum up nearly instant credibility. Be proactive about getting the business’ name out there and increasing brand recognition.
The following are ways that will help a home based business become legitimate in the eyes of consumers and other businesses in the industry.
Website, Website, Website
The first thing anyone does when you mention you have a business is ask what the website URL is. The website is the first impression that many people will get of your business whether it is a potential customer or a business looking to contract work out. The website should have a main function that is defined whether it is to make appointments, foster leads, or simply give those interested more information on the business.
A poorly designed website is actually worse than no website at all. A low quality website shows lack of care about a business as websites are quite affordable to have created. At the very least a website is where a business can showcase work that they have done in the past for happy clients. A few other points and details to remember about the website are:
- The site needs to be designed to be compatible with mobile devices. Most search traffic comes from smartphones and tablets so refusing to design for mobile can alienate that entire portion of the search population.
- The blog needs content that includes keywords of the business’ services and products. Make sure to inform instead of try to sell as this is what product/service pages are for.
- Do not put too much media on the homepage as this can lead to slow loading times and potential freezes for those with slower speed internet.
Set Up a Staffed Booth At a Conference
Conferences can have deals closed daily as face to face meetings can help close deals that have been on the brink of closing for quite some time.
Setting up a staffed booth at a conference will help with industry name recognition so it is important to hand out swam with the logo and company name on it. If there is an opening for a person to present you need to take this opportunity.
Those presenters at a conference can be offered a booth for free but the larger advantage is automatically being seen as a person at the conference who is a thought leader.
A virtual office address could not be more important for a home based business. You do not want to pitch a huge client in your living room but rather in a professional setting. Privacy is also important as most business professionals do not want clients to know their home address.
Virtual offices can come with an answering service and even a PO Box. The most important aspect of the virtual office is the ability to rent out meeting rooms. Clients will see this as a legitimate operation and could decide to close a deal with you on the spot.
The use of a live receptionist will allow a home based business to seem like it is being run on the 3rd floor of an office high rise.
Customer Testimonials and LinkedIn Recommendations
Customer testimonials have to be put on the website as these can help legitimize the business. In B2B situations the customer putting their company affiliation can be a huge perk especially if they work for a juggernaut of a corporation.
A client is much more likely to feel at ease knowing the business handled a project for Home Depot with great results than a company that helped Larry Smith finish a project. LinkedIn recommendations can be a great selling tool as customers can follow up with those giving the recommendations to ask about your work.
Ask current clients to write honest recommendations and testimonials as this will help drive leads that will convert to sales.
Legitimizing your business is going to take a bit of work but it should not be too difficult. Do not lose clients due to the fact that the business seems too small or unable to produce a certain quality of work. Not being a huge corporation can hurt in the credibility field but it often times can be an advantage as smaller businesses are much more flexible.
This is a guest contribution by Charles Dearing