Do you think it’s unfair to be judged purely on how you look? While it may be harsh to criticize someone based on their image, in business, this is exactly what other clients and companies will do to you on a constant basis. If you don’t portray the image that you think your product deserves then it’s a very easy way to sell yourself short! While startups may constantly spout maxims along the lines of “well, I let the product speak for itself” or “we’re focused more on our relationships with the customer” this is very likely code for “we haven’t got any money and about 2 or 3 members of staff!” The image you present on all fronts is vital to the relationships you will develop with clients, the employees you hire, and the success of your company. Startups have a tough time getting the image right because it requires a lot of capital to invest in marketing companies and developing the website to such a standard. But there are options available which can give out the desired image but also don’t have to cost a lot of money.
The Business Image
Startups can have a tough time developing the image of the business when they have to juggle many different tasks, and the difficulty is further compounded when it is a one-person business, and you are the boss, secretary, and designer all at the same time! This is where a little word called outsourcing really needs to be embraced by you. There are many websites where you can locate the right freelancer for your task based on the amount of money you are able to afford. The very beginnings of a company require a lot of hands on deck, and if you can rope family and friends who have the technological know-how, then get what you can out of them! The business image is so important at the start in the way that it will dictate the types of clients you will liaise with. A business that nobody has heard of won’t make waves unless you’re in the right circles. So do your research and see who you would like to be mentioned in the same breath as. Then start to push your name out there on platforms like social media and find the right people to link yourself to. It’s surprising how many people you can easily make contact with via social media! There are also plenty of networking tools on sites like LinkedIn, so if you feel you need to do some learning in this respect, then the opportunity is there. It is hard to create an aura of professionalism when you are operating a business out of your home. So if you are starting to make the right contacts and need to set up meetings, make the most of what is termed a “virtual office” where you can hire a space for the purpose of meetings and have a place to work. Virtual offices also have the added benefit of a mail forwarding service, so the embarrassment of putting your home address on correspondence is bypassed, and it adds to the air of professionalism you need at this stage.
The Online Image
While the business image can be learned to a degree, the image you are presenting out to the public hinges on many different aspects. From your product to your whole ethos, each little bit contributes to your brand and identity, which is the main thing you have to push to get customers to buy your product. What does it take to get there? You have to have a sense of what your business really wants and what you want out of your business, and while each aspect, like the product, can dictate the image and vice versa, the whole thing relies on your business voice i.e. what you want to communicate. There was a reason you started the business, and now this is where you need to make sure that it really suits the whole company ideology. The branding of your company is something that, to an extent, you can take care of yourself. Luckily there are many affordable tools online, such as landing page tools to make sure the first page your customers see when they log onto your site is captivating. There are also free online logo makers where you can design the image to your specifications. The logo, website, and business imagery need to be deliberated over properly. The online image needs to be at the forefront of your mind when it comes to making your business appeal. As being online now means that you are able to cover a much wider catchment area, in other words, worldwide, you have to think a lot harder about the image you want to portray. This is a major pitfall in startup businesses, because of the priorities that are attached to other things, like the finances. While the finances are very important, if your image doesn’t look professional, the website doesn’t look sleek, and the whole package doesn’t scream “I’m a force to be reckoned with,” it won’t matter a jot whether you have a great product or not. It can take some time to get right, and even businesses that are very well established sometimes overhaul their brand to connect to a new audience. If you manage to get the branding and the image correct at the start, it will mean a very organic development of your whole business empire. It will also make the whole process much easier.
Every business needs an identity of sorts, and whether that is in the office under a professional guise or the image you are projecting to the public via your website and promotional material, the whole package needs to be realized early on in the process. The beginnings of a business are the perfect time to get this right because as soon as the orders come flooding in and contracts are signed with clients, you are under a partial obligation to keep to that image. So make sure it’s correct at the start.