When launching a small business, it’s important to look professional.
Looking like a professional ensures you are attracting the right clients. No matter what business you’re in, there are a few things you want from your clients. For example, clients that respect your boundaries, view you as the expert and are willing to pay you for your time.
If your business looks unprofessional, people tend to consider your work a hobby. When this happens, clients may feel they can control the relationship or tell you how to do your job. If you want to set your business up for long-term success, starting with a professional foundation is a must!
1 | Website
Your website is your businesses home-base. If your business is primarily online, that makes your website even more vital to your business.
[quote about first impressions]
With people making snap decisions, it is important to make the best first impressions possible. Below, I’m going to share some common website mistakes that make your business look unprofessional. Plus, easy ways to fix it!
In a world as digital as ours, slow site speed can kill your incoming traffic. If you’re experiencing high bounce rates or low web traffic, I suggest testing your site speed. It’s a simple and free test that let’s you know how your website ranks and any issues that may be causing your site to load slowly.
I recommend using Google’s PageSpeed Insights. It grades your website for web and mobile, shares improvements you can make and links to helpful articles to help you make those improvements. As a note, if you are a Squarespace user, I’d read Squarespace’s article Page Speed Test Issues. It provides a little more information in layman’s terms.
A playful script or handwritten font can really help your brand pop. But, these fonts should be used sparingly, if at all, on your website.
If your fonts are decorative, hard to read, too small or have poor kerning people won’t be able to read your blog posts, sales pages or about me pages.
Typically, sans serif fonts are recommended for websites and serif fonts are recommend for print. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but if you are stuck, using a sans serif font is a safe bet.
Pixelated Images and Graphics
Another quick giveaway of an unprofessional brand is poor-quality photos and graphics.
It’s important to find photos that are on-brand, representative of your message and highlighting the professionalism that your business exhibits. Whether you choose to take brand photos or use stock photos, they need to be high-quality and optimized for your website.
2 | Customer Service
Promoting your business, is only the first step. Once your audience knows about your business, you need to have good customer service and audience interactions to grow a profitable business.
There are a few things I’ve ran into that make help you ensure you don’t make these mistakes
Professional Email Account
When running a business, once of the first things you should secure is a professional email account. I use Gmail and it is only $5 a month and provides an instant level of professionalism that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Depending on your brand, you need to bring a certain level of professionalism to each audience interaction.
Whether you have a corporate aesthetic or personal aesthetic, it’s still important to be taken seriously while interacting with your audience. Keep in mind that these audience members may become paying customers and you want them to see you as an expert and professional in your field.
A common mistake that happens with small business owners, is a brand voice disconnect with their audience interactions.
We can perfect it for our websites, but often we forget to roll it over to all aspects of our business. Your brand voice should be present on each Instagram caption, email and phone call. If your website is hyper-professional but your phone calls are too personal, your audience will be confused and feel like there was a false representation.
3 | Branding
In order to have a polished and professional business, you need a strong foundation. That foundation is your brand. Without a professional brand your audience won’t understand your mission, market or products. It makes it hard for them to engage with your content and turn into loyal fans.
Create a clear mission
Before you do anything in your business, you need to have a clear mission. A mission statement is a few sentences that express the purpose, identify the goal, describe products and/or services and highlights the target audience of a business.
In other terms, it’s a sentence or two that describes the why, the how and the who. If you get stuck a common framework is:
My business does __________ to help ___________ do ____________.
This mission will change with time, but when you have that strong foundation defined, you can measure every business decision against it.
Hone in on the 3 pillars of branding
Your brand is made up of three parts: look, sound and feel.
The look of your brand pertains to your design elements. Which includes your logo, website, print and digital collateral. Most people believe that is all that makes up a brand and I don’t blame people for this misconception. The visual design elements are tangible, the verbal and experiential elements aren’t.
The sound, or verbal, elements of your brand represents your brand voice, tone and terminology. How you communicate with your audience, the words you use and form of communication all tell your audience what type of business you run and who your target audience is. Whether you’re corporate or friendly, aimed at Baby Boomers or Millennials.
Finally, the feeling of your brand is the experience you create for your audience. Think of your favorite brand, you are loyal to them for more than their products. You’re loyal to them because you enjoy how purchasing their products, reading their blog or interacting with their business makes you feel. For example, I only go to Target, because I enjoy the experience of shopping at Target over Walmart.
Were you surprised by any of these common mistakes? Or do you have a tip to share? Let me know in the comments!