When it comes to growing an at-home business, one of the biggest concerns that you want to deal with is your appearance and professionalism. While a lot of people do value the customer-business interactions of a small company and also the down-to-earth nature of its employees, there’s something important about creating a sense of professionalism that helps to improve someone’s first impression of your business, your products and the services you provide.
So in this article, we’re going to talk about how to prevent your at-home business from becoming an unorganized and unprofessional mess.
Define your sales process
Defining your sales process sounds like a string of technical terms, but it’s simple to understand.
Defining your sales process essentially means “write down how your customers find you and eventually buy from you”. It’s a method of identifying how customers engage and interact with your business and ultimately turn into paying customers. It’s a rather difficult concept to grasp if you’re not familiar with the idea of a sales process, so let’s break it down here.
- Leads – The first thing to think about is how you generate leads. This means how you plan to attract customers and where you’ll get the most exposure.
- Connections – Next, you’ll want to identify how you connect with your customers. Growing leads is generally done by promoting your business, but you also need a way to bridge the gap with your audience. This could mean following up with emails, it could mean calling them directly or even sending out discount codes.
- Qualifications – Of course, not every customer you contact is going to turn into a buyer, so you need to qualify your leads and follow-up with the people that are most likely to purchase from you. This could mean connecting with the art community if you’re selling art-related products, or getting in touch with the video game community if you have products related to gaming.
- Closing – Next, we need to think about how to simplify the sales process so that it makes selling a product or service easier.
This is an incredibly simplified version of a sales process. In reality, there are many more steps, but as the main thing to take away from this is that you have to understand where your customers come from and how they eventually make a purchase. Each customer has their own story and their reasons for coming to purchase from you. If you can understand their journey and improve it, then you’ll appear like a far more professional company.
A fully-defined sales process isn’t necessary, but having some kind of rough plan will help you develop better processes and target your advertising to meet specific needs.
Getting rid of your “at-home business” vibe
There are actually plenty of ways to remove the whole “at-home business” vibe so that you appear more professional in the eyes of your audience. Even if you’re just working off a laptop at home or in a coffee shop, there are a couple of traits that often point to a company being more professional. For example:
- Set up social media pages that are relevant to your business. The type of social media you use will be heavily dependent on the type of business you are. For example, creative businesses will typically use Instagram to show off their creations, whereas Facebook is an all-purpose social media platform that can be used for anything.
- Get your own phone dedicated phone number if you plan to take many calls and disassociate it with your personal or home phone.
- If you’re going to be receiving packages, make sure you have a P.O. box address for mailing purposes.
- Get your own email and website domain name instead of using something like a @gmail account.
- If possible, try to establish a virtual address which can provide you with a more legitimate and credible address. This is also to protect your home address.
- Have corporate-related pages such as an “about us” or “contact us” section on your website.
- Hire a web designer or a professional to help you establish a better website. If you’re using templates or poorly-designed layouts, then you’re going to look very amateurish.
- Work on your language and grammar. The less spelling mistakes and obvious grammatical mistakes, the more professional you will seem. You don’t necessarily need to use very strict and formal language, but do make sure you proofread everything before adding it to your website.
These are some of the most straightforward ways to get rid of your “at-home business” vibe. It will help you stand out from the competition and give you a better chance of attracting more customers.
Protecting your customers
Whether it’s safeguarding their data on the internet or providing direct debit indemnity, there are plenty of ways to protect your customers to ensure you have their best interests in mind. Since protecting customers can help to reassure them of your genuine concern for their safety, it helps to build your brand and get more people to trust you. Protecting your customers can be difficult without the right tools, so we’re going to talk about a couple of points that you should absolutely keep in mind.
- Make sure you secure your own computer. If you’re using your own computer for business purposes and also personal use, make sure you’re incredibly thorough with things like viruses and suspicious links so that you don’t accidentally reveal passwords that could be used to access things like customer information, private emails with clients and so on.
- Use physical documents when possible. This might sound counter intuitive, but paper documents often have more security than digital ones especially if you’re keeping them in a safe place in your home. It may be more difficult to scale your business if you have a lot of paper records, but it’s far less likely for someone to steal those documents as long as you keep your home safe. Once you’re confident in your ability to protect your information digitally, you’ll have a much easier time transferring over to digital data instead.
- Ensure your website is secure. There is a protocol known as HTTPS that helps to keep your website secure with encryption and data integrity. This is a rather technical aspect of web design, but the thing that you need to be concerned about is how robust your website is from cybercriminals. Most of this will be handled by your web host, meaning that you need to have a trustworthy host with a good track record of web security. Without this, it can be difficult to safeguard your customer data.
In short, you need to be very careful about how you manage your data. However, do keep in mind that protecting your customers extends beyond just their data and privacy. You should also keep in mind things such as returns policies in the event that your products arrive faulty or damaged, and you also need to protect customers from poor purchase decisions especially if you are enabling the use of finance on your website.
Taking advantage of your status as a small business
Small companies often have a lot of good things going for them. Due to the lower volume of orders and direct contact they have with their respective communities, a small business can often grow to become a well-respected and loved entity. This is thanks to their interactions with their audience and the removal of barriers such as slow customer service.
This means that you can leverage your position in the community to create a much more professional business, even if you’re just an at-home entrepreneur. Interacting with the community will teach you all about how to manage your community and will encourage you to put yourself out there in public in order to garner more respect and love from your audience. The more down-to-earth your business is, the more professional you will seem and the faster your audience will grow.
One of the biggest advantages of connecting with your audience is being able to receive feedback and suggestions from people that are directly involved with your products and services. These are people that purchase your goods and make use of your services, so they’re the best people to offer feedback on your company and how it’s progressing. Just make sure that you stay in touch with your audience and give them an easy way to get in touch such as using social media.
To conclude, starting up a business at home can make your entire company seem amateurish and poorly run. However, with enough care and hard work, you can drastically improve the appearance of your business and give it a much better reputation that will help to draw in more customers and promote your brand. Just remember that appearances aren’t everything and that you can still leverage your position as a small business that values customer interactions instead of appearing like a professional company that rarely interacts with its audience.
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