Most businesses originate at home.
Often when the business founder is still working a 9 to 5, and often when the founder knows very little about how to set up an actual business.
This is why so many early-stage businesses look flaky to an outside observer. By flaky I mean they have a home address, their Google Street View shows their front drive with a view through their living room window, and their email address is email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. When you google them, all you find is a personal Facebook page or a LinkedIn profile that links to a previous job. When you phone them, you get a personal answer machine message, or worse, nothing at all.
None of this is a good look for a serious business.
Any business that requires people to part with money must become a serious business. And that means every business, and it includes yours.
There is NO excuse for any of the above to be true of your business, however small.
The good news is that you can transform your small business from flaky looking to solid and trustworthy looking in a single afternoon, for next to no cash.
1 - Get a business mailbox.
This gives you a professional address, a good looking and business like presence on Google My Business, and a place to put a Google pin on a map. If you do this with SiGNAL (great idea!) we have meeting rooms on site so you can arrange meetings at your virtual address too. It also means that someone else will collect and sign for your parcels and store them until you need them. No more leaving important and often confidential business parcels on your doorstep or with a neighbour. COST around £25.00 per month. Business Mailbox at SiGNAL.
2 - Buy a proper domain and create a proper email address.
This can be as simple as www.yourname.com. If you want to know what is available for purchase take a look at www.knowem.co.uk. COST about £12.00 a year
3 - While you are on www.knowem.com
Research available social media sites with your chosen name. Select at least three platforms that are key to your chosen marketplace. COST nothing.
4 - Sign up for a local directory.
SiGNAL’s My Town Online and link back to your website and social media platforms. This will vastly increase your chances of being found in local Google searches COST £9.99 a month. Find out more HERE
5 - Phone number.
Using your existing phone provider, arrange a second number with a local landline code. Pay an answer service to answer your calls with your company name. They can then text or email you a message. COST - adhoc from £1.00 per call answered, cheaper if you buy a monthly contract.
6 - If you are B2B, get VAT registered.
It makes you instantly more credible, it is a great incentive to keep your accounts properly organized, and you can claim back a lot of VAT on startup costs (including the Mailbox and Directory we mentioned above).
If you are B2C, consider going VAT registered straight away if you are able to do this and remain competitive. Remember that at some stage you will have to register unless you plan to cap turnover below £85,000 forever. It may be easier to tackle the transition early in your journey. COST nothing.
Those are my 6 recommendations - they can be tackled in a single day and will make your business instantly more trustworthy and credible.
These things really matter if you are going to attract the level of customer investment you need.
Taking yourself and your business seriously is a big and important step towards success. Good luck with your journey, I hope it is an exciting and rewarding one!