21/04/2015

By Richard Morris, UK CEO at global workspace provider Regus

As a small business, taking on larger competitors can be tough. Potential customers find security in what looks like the safest bet – the established business that’s been around long enough to expand into different locations and hire more employees.

So, if you’re a small business with big ambitions but limited resources, how do you boost your presence? Here are my seven tips to follow for those businesses wanting to punch above their weight.

1. Wow them with your website

A website is the modern equivalent of a shop-front. Investing in a competent designer who can do a professional job is money well spent. If your business presents a confident, slick and professional image that’s exactly the impression people will get.

2. Use a more impressive physical address

It’s time to stop asking your customers to write to you at “Flat 3″. A virtual office service provides you with a business address in the right place and a local contact number answered by a trained receptionist in your company name. All of your mail can be directed to this address, and managed accordingly. You’ll present a more professional image, as well as freeing up time to focus on core tasks.

3. Avoid coffee-shop meetings

Face-to-face meetings are essential for any business. Conducting these at home, or in a crowded and noisy coffee-shop can be counter-productive. Instead, hire meeting space for as little as an hour at a time, giving you a quiet, private room and access to any facilities you need. What’s more, this space can be booked at a location convenient to the person you’re meeting, preventing them from having to travel and immediately creating a favourable impression.

4. Multiply yourself!

You might be the only employee, but a collection of different addresses, such as ‘Enquiries@Company.com’ and‘Complaints@Company.com’, gives a feeling of multiple departments – or at least multiple staff members.

Remember that you’re a small business with limited employees, so you’re not being deceptive. You and your staff probably really do fill multiple roles at once.

5. Become an industry expert

Share your knowledge. Educate others. Write an e-book within your area of expertise and give it away on your website. Start a blog – and keep it up – offering useful advice to customers and industry partners. Attend conventions, forge a network and offer to be a speaker. Where you can, offer yourself to the press to be interviewed for stories and features related to your work. As people start to see you and your name everywhere, offering your wisdom and experience, they’ll automatically assume that your company is a successful and trustworthy organisation.

6. Get social

Mainstream social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, are all invaluable resources for any business trying to grow its public image. Talk to your customers and other local businesses, and get involved in discussions related to your industry. If your prospects see your company with 30,000 followers and one of your competitors with only 30, who do you think they’ll be more inclined to choose?

7. Align with bigger names

If you’ve worked with big-name brands, don’t keep it a secret. Get their logos onto your website. Mention your affiliations and networks – and if you don’t have any, get some. Join the UK Marketing Association, or become a certified energy-conscious enterprise. Sponsor a well-known charity that you feel strongly about, and display their badge on your websites and social media profiles with pride.

Growing your business is never an easy task – and there’s no single quick fix. But if you really want to make it big, it helps to look big first.