By G. Detweiler,
It’s never been easier to start a small business. There are valid arguments for just diving in, and not waiting until you have all the details ironed out. But as the adage goes: You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. An unprofessional launch could set you back, and you may find those things you planned to take care of later always get pushed to the back burner. In the meantime you could lose business.
1. Look the part
Here’s one for businesses that engage in face-to-face transactions: dress the part. Having a respectable outfit will add immediate credibility and professionalism to your interaction. For businesses that are not in the office-setting, a tasteful printed tee or an embroidered polo shirt will look put together while reinforcing your brand.
2. Set up a website
Your website doesn’t need to be fancy, but make sure it professionally reflects your business and contains the information customers generally need to know, such as how to contact you, business hours, menu of services (or menu for a restaurant), etc. There are a variety of services that will help you create a simple but professional looking site; if your needs are more extensive, you may need to hire someone to create it for you.
While you’re at it, don’t slap up pages that say “under construction” or “coming soon.” Even if your site is a single page, make it look professional. You can always add more pages later.
3. Create a professional email address
Get an email address that matches your domain name; it’s simple and not expensive. Your website host may provide that as service, or you can use G Suite email for as little as $5 a month. (Note that G Suite email can give you an email address at your domain name, which looks better than an @gmail.com address.)
4. Get a business phone number
Have you ever called a business and been taken aback when the phone is answered with a blunt “hello” rather than a professional greeting? It doesn’t inspire confidence. That’s why you need a business phone number: If a phone call, text, or email comes in for your business, you can respond appropriately.
5. Invoice professionally and promptly
You won’t stay in business long if you don’t get paid. Some 70% of freelancers report they’ve been stiffed by clients. Two things will help you avoid this scenario: a contract and prompt invoicing. There are a variety of programs that make it easy to create and send professional invoices inexpensively. Many accounting programs for example, make invoicing painless.
6. Order Business Cards
This one may sound like a no-brainer, but business cards are an excellent tool for word-of-mouth marketing.
These basic steps will help you put your best foot forward in your exciting business journey ahead.
This article was originally published in Forbes.