At Watt Media, we often consult small business owners on the best ways to convey a professional image. Many start-up business owners don’t realize the signals they give off that make it obvious that they are a small one-person business. Here are 5 things NOT to do that just scream, “I am a one-person business”:
1. Don’t have kids screaming in the background during a phone conversation. Have a home-based business? Many of the most successful businesses started that way, but nothing will make you look more “small time” than making it so obvious. (same goes for barking dogs!)
2. Don’t use a cell phone. Does your business phone number ring to a cell phone? Calls breaking up, echo – it’s obvious to people you’re on a cell phone. If being a one-person business is not something you want to promote, use a land line.
3. Don’t answer your phone, “Hello?” Nothing screams “small time” more than answering your phone with a mere, “Hello.” You’re running a business – answer with your business name!
4. Don’t have a personal voice-mail outgoing message. What do customers hear when you’re not there? If you use your home phone line for business, they will hear your home answering machine – talk about small time! Same with your cell phone – “Hi, this is John, leave me a message…” – small time!! Invest in a separate phone line and leave an outgoing message with your company name. Better yet, get someone else to record it for you!
5. Don’t have business cards with no address. You know what I think to myself when I go to a networking event and am handed a business card with no address listed? I think, “Small time!” Don’t want to use your home address? Get a P.O. Box – for a little extra, you can get one that looks like a real address, such as the ones at The UPS Store.