Setup Professional Business
Starting an online business often means you’re on your own and starting from scratch — no IT department to set up your email, no design guru to make a logo, no professional writer to craft website copy. Most start-up entrepreneurs only use whatever resources they have on hand. They often use a personal email address and phone number to contact their clients while they’re first building their company.
When things settle down, it might be time for you to start sorting out any personal messes you’ve created for your own business or reputation. In order to do that though, you need to get rid of any professional messes that have been created too.
One thing that every business needs to keep up with is its branding. It’s what separates you from your competitors and it’s one of the factors that shape your customer experience. Want to get ahead of the competition? Brands that want to stand out in a crowded marketplace need all the help they can get. Here are nine easy and quick steps for getting from “brand new” to “branded”.
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1. Get a dedicated phone number
A business phone number can be important for building your reputation with customers. It gives you the flexibility to share number without revealing your private number. It also ensures you don’t end up answering a customer’s call with an unprofessional greeting. Every time you listen to it, a little piece of your soul dies. And that’s not what we want when we have such high standards for every other part of our business.
If you’re interested in setting up a business phone line, there are plenty of options out there. A Google Voice number is not only a free route to take, but it also comes with a lot of other features that can simplify your work and make your life easier. According to a Google Voice review published on GetVoIP, there are many different features like the ability for you to have all of your devices routed under one phone number.
If you’re looking for professional polish, an 800 number can be a smart choice. There are tons of options like Grasshopper that provide similar Google Voice-type services to mobile phones. such as pressing 1 for sales and 2 for returns.
2. Get a P.O. Box
Again, it’s time to separate the personal and professional. A P.O box let’s you set up a mailing address for customers and suppliers without giving away where you live. Plus you’ll know any packages you receive are safe and secure rather than sitting out on your doorstep in the rain.
If you want to take it a step further, you can use a service like Mail Boxes Etc. or UPS Store that will provide you with street addresses rather than P.O’s. That way, your business can receive packages from all the major courier services , not just USPS, Many people work a second job in the evening and night. That’s why many locations now offer 24-hour access, which is great for them.
Another benefit of owning an actual address is that you can appeal to local customers. Seeing that the business is from your hometown or state may invoke an immediate sense of loyalty which means you might want to support them over others.
3. Get your own domain name
You need an easy-to-remember and share website address. Many providers offer free domain names with signups, but paid URL’s can be more concise. This might work at first, but you should switch to a personalized domain as soon as possible.
Keep your domain name short and catchy. Anyone can remember a 3-letter dot com, but not everyone can recall a 15-letter dot com. Use naming generators to help come up with unique ideas! Unique or unusual spellings can be “innovative” or “edgy” but most people looking for your site are going to spell things the way they are used to seeing them. Visit our post on choosing a domain for your brand – including SEO considerations – for tips on selecting an appropriate domain past.
Bonus: You also get your own private SSL. You should always be using an SSL when transmitting sensitive details like credit card information or personal data. We have it on our “Bigcommerce” platforms for example. you can quickly protect customer information In the event of a data breach with a free shared SSL. Investing in a private SSL means your domain name is the same on your secure pages. This makes it easier to maintain branding while protecting customers’ privacy.
4. Set up a business email account
Sure, your Yahoo! or Gmail address will work just fine for emailing your friends and family. But when it comes to communicating with customers, you want a professional and recognizable company email address. It’s a good idea to offer a business email address in order to keep your personal messages and emails separate. You can do that by first creating an email account on Gmail or Yahoo and then adding this account as an alias for your domain name..
Email addresses can be likened to domain names. Many online services provide complimentary email addresses but it’s probably better to set up with a dedicated email provider for the best features/reliability. Google Apps for Business and Office 365 for Business provide some excellent email features, including 99.9% uptime and additional perks such as document editing, online storage, etc. The best part about AI writing assistants is that they are very affordable. Often, you only pay $5 for a month’s worth of emails.
Bonus: Although it’s true that you can contact us by sending an email to mydomain.com, my advice is to step away from the tried and true every once in a while. It may be difficult at first, but a lot of great companies are doing things differently these days. They use fun domain names like “hello” instead of “contact us.”
5. Order business cards
One great way of getting your name out to the public is through word-of-mouth. Having business cards on hand at all times can help start conversations with people you might not have ever interacted with before. If you compare it in the long term, you will most likely save money on printing and ink by getting them professionally printed, while they look great they are also of much higher quality than anything that could be achieved through your home printer.
6. Set up an About Us and a Contact page
Notice I said “and” and not “or.” Many people don’t understand the importance and difference between the two, which creates a sub-optimal customer experience.
The “About Us” page on your website is the perfect place to tell customers what sets you apart from the rest. Share who you are and what makes your business special so they’ll come back again. You might not get the chance to talk with your website visitors in person (or over the phone), but you can show them what you’re passionate about and what your mission is by providing content they find compelling.
The “Contact” page is the place where customers will go if they have any questions, concerns or feedback. Make sure that it’s easy to find in your navigation and makes it easy for customers to get in touch with you. Include options such as P.O. Box as well.
The contact page is the go-to page when your customers want to get information, ask a question or make a complaint. Make sure it’s easy to find in your navigation and that you include all possible contact options. You won’t know what people will need from you, so include all of your possible support services.
What’s the best way to contact you? Well, the fastest way is by phone or email. If you want to do it through a form on this page though, that’s totally cool. We’ll try our best to make your experience with us as enjoyable as possible!
It’s easy for customers to reach out and get in contact with you – just make use of our contact form at the bottom of your website. All they’ll have to do for returning customers is enter their email address, their name and what they need help with. For more advanced options, it is worth considering integrating with a third-party app like Wufoo, EmailMeForm or Kontactr.
7. Stop trying to be a web designer
This article is for web designers, but if you aren’t one, the design information may still be helpful. Web design and graphic design have deep roots in technology and user experience. It baffles me when people who know nothing about web design try to change their sites by adding an excessive amount of badges, a terrible color palette & annoying pop-ups
Building a website from scratch can be daunting. But, getting one online doesn’t have to be! We offer you some pre-designed templates to give your site that professional and eye-catching look that’s both user-friendly and easy to build! Bigcommerce offers over 100 pre-built templates, including Style Editor-capable templates (meaning you can quickly and easily change the color scheme and fonts) and a selection of beautiful premium templates. I highly recommend using one of these templates or hiring a trusted web designer to build a custom theme instead of throwing your own together. This also makes it easier to change your theme if you ever want to give your website a new look or make it more attractive to potential buyers.
Bonus: If you do want to become a web designer, there are a ton of online resources out there to get you started. Check out the free courses at CodeAcademy or W3Schools to learn the basics. Or you can really step up your game with a subscription to Treehouse where you can learn web development, design basics and business basics.
8. Take better photos
Photos are the best way to introduce online visitors to your products. Big, clear, realistic photos will allow them to virtually handle the products, giving them a clear view of their quality and intricacies.
If you’re not on a budget, go all out and hire a local photographer or use a photography service like ProductPhoto.com. Both of these options will take professional-grade photos and handle the post-production touch ups. If you are on a budget, check out our awesome article on how to rock product photography for less than $50. While a DSLR camera will get you great results, most smartphones these days have cameras capable of taking some pretty solid shots.
And don’t forget to take some photos of your products in action. A plain white background will show off product details, but a photo of your item with a person or in use can provide a sense of scale and personality as well. Mix both styles of photography to create a complete experience for the customer.
9. Look the part
Here’s one for businesses that engage in face-to-face transactions: get a uniform. No, I don’t mean you have to sell out and squeeze into a corporate suit every day, but having a nice logoed shirt will add immediate credibility and professionalism to your interaction. A tasteful printed tee or an embroidered polo shirt will look put together while reinforcing your brand. Several online services help you create custom attire, but you can also look for someone local so you can pick out what you want in person.
10. Clean up accounting and invoicing
Nothing looks more official than a bill on a company template. Software such as QuickBooks Online makes it easy for small businesses to create professional-looking invoices which can be paid online by credit card or bank transfer.
11. Go to industry events.
Most business owners, and people in general, understand the importance of networking. Industry events, in particular, are an especially good way to network. By attending these events, your business will appear more professional. Not only will people at the events recognize that you took the time to attend them, but people will also take you more seriously when you post photos from the events on social media.
12. Use professional job titles.
A lot of businesses like to use jokey-sounding job titles. This isn’t a good idea. Stick to well-known and easy-to-understand job titles.