An increasing number of people are working from home, running their own business. A recent report estimated that nearly 14% of the UK workforce is home based – more than four million people – and that more would like the flexibility and control that homeworking brings. It’s certainly a cost-effective option, so how do you make yourself look more professional if you work from home? Admin management, marketing and attention to detail all help.
Making the right impression
First impressions count, and your customers will want to have confidence in your ability to deliver your product or service professionally and efficiently. That means that even if you’re working from your kitchen table or an office in the shed, you need to demonstrate your capability from the very beginning. That can be daunting, as most home-based business owners come from a corporate environment where the finances, administration, IT and marketing are all handled by other departments.
Look for these key ways to give your customers the right impression:
Give your business a name – even if you’re not a Limited company, you can give your business a name. This automatically makes you look more professional and actually, psychologically, gives you an advantage – if you think of your business as a business rather than a hobby or a tentative enterprise, you will already feel more confident about it when you are contacting customers. If you want to be a Limited company, it’s straightforward to do – or you could consider outsourcing to a virtual assistant, who can help you find a specialist and project manage the process for you.
Get a website – you might feel that the digital world is a bit saturated, but there’s always room for a good, relevant, useful website. Your customers will almost certainly use it as a credibility check, and you will be able to use it as a place to showcase your services or products, give your customers advice and share your expertise. Customers expect a business to have a clean, easy-to-navigate and useful website, and you can get one without breaking the bank.
Ditch the generic email address – there’s an automatic assumption that a business with a generic email address is not a serious enterprise. So keep your gmail, Hotmail and other accounts for your personal mail and set up a couple of email addresses that use your business name. A virtual business support service can help you to find and manage a professional to do this if you haven’t done it before. Set up one for yourself and at least one other – an ‘accounts’ email or a ‘sales’ or ‘info’ email are good ways to both manage your emails and to give a professional impression.
Look consistent – when many home businesses start up, they use clip-art logos or readily available fonts for their logo. These are easily spotted and often show that either you’re not willing to invest in good design for your business image, or you’re not really bothered. Looks do count in business – take a look at your competitors and see what they look like. A simple logo, colour palette and single font can help you to be consistent across all your communications. And this doesn’t have to be expensive – sourcing graphic design is often on a list of virtual assistant services, for example.
Get a PO Box or office address – many people don’t want their customers to know that they work from home, or don’t want to give out their home address to strangers. So it makes sense to take advantage of the many remote office services on the market. You can either use a real office address, which can accept mail on your behalf and might even have meeting rooms or hot desks where you can work when you choose, or pay for a PO Box. Both these options give you a professional image without costing a fortune and allow you to keep your home address private.
These are all straightforward tasks, but they can take your time and often drop to the bottom of the ‘to-do’ list when you’re trying to get new business through the door. That’s why it might be worth looking for a remote virtual assistant to help out with these and other tasks.
With an affordable pay-as-you-go model, virtual assistants have the knowledge and skills to get these jobs done efficiently and can also support your business in a number of other ways as it grows. So if you work from home, admin is a nightmare and you need some virtual support, there’s always somewhere to turn. If you’re short on time feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or use our contact form in the menu above.