Polishing your small business's image

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Polishing your small business's image

While Invoice2go is no longer an SME, founder Chris Strode’s company is still on a mission to give small business owners a way to simplify their daily lives. Strode has three tips for small business owners that want to stand out from their larger competitors.

While bigger companies have more time, money and people dedicated to building their professional image, Strode suggests that if you know the tricks of the trade it is possible to compete against the Goliaths of your industry - just as Invoice2go has taken on the big names to become the world's number one invoicing app.

The increasing number of cost-effective digital tools at your disposal makes it easier than you might think to polish up your professional image, he says. Having the right tech at your fingertips

can make your operations appear smooth and seamless, and do the hard work for you.

1. Look into your logo

A great place to start is with your own logo, Strode says, as this is what will reflect your brand's identity and company values, allowing you to stand out.

A logo that represents the attributes of your company can have a significant effect on customer engagement, and in turn, on company performance.

99designs, an online marketplace that connects freelance designers with businesses looking for on-demand graphic design, has found that 42 percent of business owners see design as a necessity in defining their company's brand and informing its values. Other online venues for finding designers include DesignCrowdFiverr and Upwork.

2. Send professional estimates and invoices

Every piece of communication you send your customers should have a professional look and feel, especially two critical documents that sometimes get overlooked - your estimates and invoices. You'd be surprised how quickly a hacked together estimate can hurt your credibility and the likelihood of you getting the job, says Strode.

We'll excuse him blowing his own trumpet when he suggests Investing in a simple, cost-effective mobile invoicing solution like Invoice2go, which lets you create professional estimates and invoices on the spot.

Estimates are particularly important, he says, as they help you make a strong first impression that guarantees professionalism, transparency and commitment to the task at hand. Go one step further by offering your customer multiple ways to pay the bill, which is something that consumers have come to expect from any business they're dealing with.

That Lady Tradie founder and director Michelle Hargreaves says apps like Invoice2go allow her to be as time efficient as possible, while eliminating the risk of human error. "I'm able to spend the majority of my time on the tools without worrying about this jeopardising the professional image of my business, because I have time-efficient digital tools doing this for me in the background."

Other invoicing apps include Snap Invoicing and Rounded (which is aimed specifically at freelancers and sole traders).

And if you need a more comprehensive accounting system, there are the well-known products from companies such as Intuit, MYOB, ReckonSaasuSageXero.

3. Wield a wonderful website

Another element crucial to maintaining the professional image of your business is keeping consistent web and email addresses. Customers predominantly browse online, making enquiries and purchases via email, says Strode. Consequently, he recommends you ensure your website is professional and your email address matches your domain (nothing says 'digital amateur' more than a Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc email address). Things as simple as this remind customers your business is the real thing.

Fashion rental business Lease A Look owner Lisa Toohey quickly realised the value in aligning her domain with a business email address. "It's such a small cost for the impression that a professional email address makes on customers. If you're going to have a website, regardless of how small or big you are, it's the first thing people look at to legitimise the businesses. All these channels give off the 'real deal'," says Lisa.

Cloud providers like GoDaddy offer website domains, professional email services and even a DIY Website Builder that enable you to build your own professional-looking website in under an hour.

Other companies providing similar services include A Small OrangeBlueHostCrazyDomains, and Panthur.

While a hosting provider's website builder can make it quick and easy to get your site up and running, it can be difficult to take it with you if you decide to move to a different hosting company. Sites based on widely used platforms such as WordPress are much more portable.

It's important to remember that the small aspects of your business contribute to creating an overall seamless experience for your clients, says Strode. By leveraging the right digital tools your professional image will be shinier than ever, allowing you stay ahead in your industry and top of mind with your customers.

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