Don’t Forget The Little Things
The grueling and exciting work of setting up your business is over: you have registered as a business owner, brought business cards and created a website. You may have even set up an office, either at home for just you, or elsewhere for your employees. It’s time to celebrate!
But there are things that you will have overlooked while in the flurry of setting up – things that might not make or break your business but will have an impact on its reputation, both within the office and without.
Here is a checklist of things to remember and why they are important.
1| Incoming Calls
If you’re using your personal phone, a designated business one, or a landline number, the way you answer it is important. If you have a phone solely for company use, then it’s easy to distinguish when to apply the business tone. It’s also useful to have a small opening line – ‘hello you have reached [business name here], how can I help’ would work just fine.
All phones come equipped with caller ID, so a good rule of thumb when using your personal phone for business is to answer any unknown callers with your practiced business hello.
You probably also forgot about the voice mail message and either has it stuck on the fake ‘hello… gotcha!’ cycle from your youth, or haven’t even thought to record anything at all. It’s time to change that – anyone trying to call you who reaches your voicemail needs the reassurance that they have called the right person.
Your office, whether it’s at home or elsewhere, has been set up to optimise your business. Your equipment is the best you can get, and the layout is primed for work. Yet there are a couple of things to keep in mind;
Software – shop around for the right software for your needs, from servers to security, ensure you choose the best ones for you.
Webcam – they come built into most computers and laptops but check the quality. You may need to buy a better one for video chatting with clients. A low-quality web-cam can hint at low-quality work.
Printer – you may have a brand new printer, with a scanner and photocopier and other advantages you don’t quite understand but are happy they are there. But it’s the ink and paper you should invest in next. Good quality toner and ink cartridges, and thick-quality paper create crisp documents without smudged words. Again, it’s all about how the company is perceived through quality.
Stationary – it may surprise you, in this technological age, how many people still use a pen and paper when working. Make sure that you provide good quality versions of both. You can even use it as an advertising opportunity and brand pens with the company logo.
3| Want a cuppa?
This applies more for offices with employees than for at home. Cheeping out on the tea and coffee available to employees and clients is never a good idea. You can ignore stereotypes as much as you want, but the fact of the matter is that people love a good cup of tea or coffee. Once again quality talks.
There’s no need to go and buy a state of the art coffee machine complete with a personal barista, but just pass over the own brand and get one of the brands well known like Nesquick and PG Tips.
As annoying as they are, presentations and pitches are a vital part of business life. So make sure they are up to scratch. Using the same old template on PowerPoint will get old quickly – so jazz it up. Not necessarily with funky slide transitions and your wordart skills left over from primary school, but start to introduce different mediums and learn how to make the most out of a presentation.
Use videos and sound to keep things interesting, and look into other presentation platforms like Prezi to make a difference and to shake things up. But keep things simple. Overloading a presentation with flames and electric guitar solos may look fantastic – but is it getting your point across? And, above all, is it presenting yourself as professional.
The same goes for delivering a presentation. Reading off the screen or from the queue-cards looks unprepared. Even if it is something as simple as the weekly office meeting, go into it knowing what you want to say and how you want to deliver it. Show confidence in what you’re saying and your audience will feel confident in you and, by extension, your business.
As vain as it seems, what you look like matters. In the business world, ‘office wear’ is the traditional go to. This doesn’t mean that you can’t add your own, personal flair, but to be taken seriously you have to look the part.
It’s easy to forget about this when you’re creating a business from home, but if you’re meeting a client, in person or video-chatting, then you need a few go-to outfits that look the part and show who you are. Even if you’re a landscaper who spends their days elbow deep in dirt, meeting new clients involves cleaning up a bit. This is the same for people whose businesses are purely online; a fashion blogger needs to look the part for their following to take them seriously and trust what they say.
In this day and age where man-buns, bright hair colours and tattoos are becoming more and more accepted as mainstream, businesses owners and employees can afford to be more themselves in the way they dress.
In a creative role you may be able to get away with a slightly more casual look, and in the office, you may employ a smart-casual policy. But for those, all important meetings and interviews, dressing smart is the best choice.