Professionalism is a great characteristic for any business to exude, especially for relatively unknown startups. Without recognition or evident success in early stages, prospective clients don’t have much to go on beyond personal evaluation, where professionalism is among the most coveted characteristics.
Professionalism has a wide range of benefits for businesses. It improves overall success and morale, as well as helps establish great reputations for startups. There are a number of effective methods for startup owners to make their young company more professional, in the process earning respect and growing their business.
Invest in Top-Tier Design
While it’s true that customers care deeply about the final product, they also place high emphasis on a company’s look. For instance, if a startup has a sloppily designed logo that was bought for cheap, it exudes a sense of shortcut-first, quality-later mentality that doesn’t sit right with paying customers.
While there have been plenty of successful businesses that began as startups with an ugly logo or design, there’s no excuse in 2016 to not have a sleek logo, especially with ample ways to contact freelance graphic designers.
Provide a Welcoming Interior
Similarly, the interior of any office should show professionalism during all hours. This means cleanliness, courteous and responsive service, a comfortable waiting area if necessary and refreshments for guests, like water or coffee.
Businesses that show they care are much more likely to convert leads into clients. Aim for a balance between comfort and business professional so that your potential clients and customers are happy to come visit.
Show Enthusiasm on Social Media
Some businesses that start out tweeting and Facebook-ing on a daily basis eventually fade as the pressing issues of the business world become to much later on. This suggests to customers that the business is fading as well. As a way to combat this, make sure to always post daily on social media, particularly with enthusiasm that showcases niche-specific knowledge.
Even if it requires hiring a social media manager, do it. Social media is immensely important, and any business without a presence looks unprofessional and out of touch.
Use a Full Email Signature
It may seem like a small touch, but having an email signature that’s professional in nature makes it more likley that people will reply, as well as generally exuding professionalism. A professional signature typically includes your business's logo, as well as your personal business title, address, phone, email, website and Twitter/Facebook links.
Adding a default custom signature in Gmail is easy too, so there is no excuse for not having this professional tactic as part of your company.
Outsource When Necessary
A small team of workers may get the job done internally, but there are certain aspects like 24-hour support or full-time monitoring that may require more than your employees can handle. Your team will endure sick days and personal emergencies from time to time, so to ensure customers are satisfied, there’s nothing wrong with outsourcing via sites like Upwork or Freelancer.
Clients are paying for a service, so if one team member isn’t available they rightfully expect someone else to take their place. Doing otherwise is not professional, as reliability is a trademark aspect of professionalism.
Value the Small Things
In addition to the tips above, there are seemingly small day-to-day things in business that, to both co-workers and those looking in, show professionalism. This includes professional attire, a demeanor that's confident without being cocky, affirmation of personal ethical code, proper phone etiquette and personal accountability.
Generally, most people will be rightfully irritated if a business’s representative is unresponsive or overly nonchalant. Showing enthusiasm and confidence in both your niche and the client’s requests is a professional way of declaring you can get the job done.