Running a small business has its perks – especially if you operate from home or exclusively online. The main factor that stands out for most is the extreme differences in overhead. Without the need for a physical location or a large staff, small business owners have the advantage of saving money and still being successful. That isn’t without some investment however. As a small business, competing with the big boys will require you to be on your toes at all times and appear larger than you really are to gain the respect and trust of your target audience. This will often require the help of other businesses.
No matter what kind of business you run or who your target audience is, you’ll need to have a website. Websites act as business cards with a lot more information on them. A website is often the first place a consumer will check to learn more about your company and what you have to offer. Having a web host ensures that consumers have the opportunity to search the Internet and see your website. They often provide a wealth of other Internet services including domain names, templates, email accounts, and virus protection.
As stated previously, most small businesses are run from home or exclusively online. This, of course, saves money on overhead costs, but it does have its disadvantages. Customers are interested in doing business with who they believe to be a legitimate company. If they cannot find a physical address for you, this can make them suspicious of your legitimacy. While you may not want to plaster your home address online or use a PO box as an address, considering a virtual address from vendors like iPostal1. This can give you the professional touch your customers will be satisfied with. Now you can provide a location, but not be worried about customers showing up at your front door.
To coincide with appearing professional and legitimate to potential customers, you’ll need to invest in phone service. Having a professional point of contact is crucial to your success. Though email and chat are viable means of communication, there are some customers that still prefer to contact someone by phone. While you may not want to give out your home phone or personal cell phone, there are several options for getting a company phone number affordably. From VoIP phone services, to affordable 800 numbers, you can receive a number separate from your own that customers can reach you on.
As a small business owner who’s working from home with no employees, the idea of hiring a bookkeeper might seem like a waste of money. However, to the contrary, bookkeepers are critical to businesses of all sizes. They are not only ideal for recording expenses and profits, but for helping with tax law, purchase decisions, and even helping to develop a plan for your company’s financial success.
Running a business on your own is a LOT of work. As your business grows you’ll find that trying to do it yourself isn’t working. While you may not need to hire a full staff, having someone you can rely on for administrative tasks can be a huge plus. A virtual assistant acts as a secretary or personal assistant. They are there to provide assistance with administrative tasks that can include document creation, customer service, marketing, file management, data entry, and more. Many small business owners end up hiring a virtual assistant as a means to clear up some of their work load. They can also be great for professional appearance. As clients call into your office and hear an assistant’s voice instead of yours, this will give off the appearance that you’re an established, professional company that is expanding.
As a small business owner, you will always wear several hats. That being said, at some point, you’ll need to rely on the products and services of other business professionals to get ahead. From lightening your load by tending to things you’re less skilled in, to helping your brand to appear larger and more legitimate to the outside world, the services mentioned above are all worth the investment and will most certainly generate a positive return.