For many of us working in traditional office roles, venturing out as an entrepreneur and becoming our own boss sounds like a dream come true. But, as sole traders know, it isn’t easy. The failure rate for small businesses is high; in Singapore, it’s 70%, while in the US, it’s over 80%. Individuals starting out all over the world face the challenge of an often saturated market – research shows that one of the top four reasons a business fails is being out-competed by peers.
So how can small companies stand out from the crowd? One of the key elements to consider is a strong brand – and this starts with a professional image.
For individuals competing with mature businesses, it comes down to one thing: looking as established and market-leading as any of them. In other words, looking like a big company even when you’re your only employee.
This may seem like a difficult task to accomplish without losing the agility of being a small company, but it’s by no means impossible if you can make use of new, flexible ways of working and ideas about workspaces. Let’s see how that works from a client perspective, with the three key stages where they’ll come into contact with your business – and how you can present a polished brand right from the start.
From first impressions to those important pitch meetings and post-conversion collaborations, you need to make sure your one-man-band is as slick and polished as it can be.
- First impressions. When you first reach out to a potential lead – or they start contacting you – giving off the image of an established company is crucial. Even if you work from home most of the week, using a service like a virtual office means you have a mailing address in a prestigious location and a local phone number with a professional answering service. A Regus survey found that over 78% of entrepreneurs in the UK, and 83% in South Africa believe that it’s imperative to have a professional location that makes them appear like a more established firm.
- Pitches and meetings. Regus studies show that globally around 1/3 of businesspeople believe that too small meeting rooms are a major inconvenience. Where a largely unused meeting space of your own can be a drain on overheads, sole traders can make use of flexible options instead. You can rent these only when you need them, giving you a professional space to meet clients that’s as good as any used by your competitors.
- Collaboration and catch-ups. These don’t stop after you’ve won that contract. Once you’re working on a project, you can still continue to convey that ‘larger business’ image without losing your flexibility. Accessing a service such as a videoconferencing suite gives you a professional way to hold your status catch-ups or regular meetings without compromising the benefits of remote working.