Do you own a small business but wish it had the feel of a Fortune 500 company? There are easy steps you can take to speed up your company’s evolution and increase your market share. Whether you’re running a grass-cutting business during summer break or a 100-employee high-end retail enterprise, following these simple steps will help you increase referrals and take your business to the next level. And the best part is you can accomplish all of these items for under $500 if you shop smart.
I recently sat down with small business consultant Dezmon Landers for advice on how I could help a client of mine take her small business to the next level. I quickly learned that Dezmon is among the best in his field when he provided me with the following six simple, inexpensive, yet brilliant, ideas. When I passed these ideas along to my client two months ago she was able to implement them for less than $500 and her business is now thriving. Try these tips offered by Dezmon Landers to help your small business grow.
1. Get a 1-800 #
Access is one of the most important factors prospects use to determine if they’re going to do business with you. They want to know that if they have a question, your company will be available to quickly answer it. An easy way to achieve this is by purchasing a 1-800 phone number. It’s not as expensive as you may think. Today you can get a number for as little as $2 per month! Visit www.kall8.com for details.
2. Open a Virtual Office
A virtual office is a service that allows your company to rent a prime business address in your area without having to assume the lease. In addition, many virtual offices allow you to utilize additional services like receptionists, meeting rooms and mail forwarding to your home address, usually first class. Some virtual offices even allow month-to-month rental agreements so you can try the service and cancel if you’re not satisfied. Visit http://virtualoffices.regus.com to find a virtual office in your area.
3. Incorporate Your Business
Prospects often ask questions to see if your business is legitimate. A common question you’ll be asked is, “Are you incorporated? LLC, S-Corp, Partnership?” If you hesitate with your answer it can be a deal breaker. Incorporating forces you to understand the different types of corporate entities and lets you share with your prospect that you are officially registered through your secretary of state’s office. Visit the secretary of state’s website where you live for complete details or visit www.legalzoom.com.
4. Develop a Quality Website
A website is meant to be the virtual extension of your business and consumers use their impression of your site to decide if they’ll do business with you. Your website should effectively communicate your core offering in less than 10 seconds. A strategy used to do this is called the “billboard strategy”, which is a graphic layout of your website’s homepage that includes a billboard-like graphic when the consumer first visits the page. A site that utilizes the “billboard strategy” is www.insuranceagents.com.
To design your website cost effectively, try the following tips:
- Find three of your top competitors’ websites and research how much money they spent to create their sites.
- Determine how much you can spend (it’s ok if it’s only $100).
- Create a “spec sheet” which tells a web designer/developer what your website needs to accomplish.
- Put your project on a freelance marketplace like “Elance” or “Guru” along with your budget.
5. Create Business Cards
Business cards are one of the least expensive items on this list but are arguably the most important. Prospects can gauge how professional your company is based on your business cards. Make sure your business cards include the following key information:
- Name of your company
- Your name
- Your job title
- 1-800 #
- Email Address
- Virtual Office Address
- Summary of your services on the back (i.e. “Affordable Plumbing Services”)
Refer to www.vistaprint.com for details on how you can order inexpensive business cards.
6. Get Testimonials
Consumers are risk averse by nature and only want to do business with proven companies. But “proven” doesn’t have to mean many years of past client history. Instead, “proven” means that your company has done work for clients in the past and they were satisfied. Keep in mind that a client doesn’t have to be limited to an individual who has paid for your services. It can also be someone that you provided services to for free who then gave you a testimonial about their appreciation for your work.