One of the greatest things for me about running a small business is that I do it from my home. Now, don’t tell my clients: some of them don’t know that, and if they picture me working in a giant office in downtown San Diego, California, I’m okay with that. I’ve had people call asking for the HR or marketing department, which makes me giggle, since all of those departments are…well…me.
It’s an optical illusion, this making your business seem bigger than it is, but it’s absolutely one that makes you look more professional, which, in turn, makes people more inclined to hire your company or buy from you. Here are my tips to make it look like you don’t work out of your closet or home.
1. Act Like It.
Much of running a small business is mindset. If you think you’re not a “real company” because you work from home, it will show. But if you think your business is just as important as those that pay way too much to rent office space (and yours is just as important), people will take you more seriously.
2. Have a Professional Website.
Working surrounded by your husband’s gym clothes in the closet doesn’t cut you any slack when it comes to having a professional-looking website. In fact, since you’re saving so much in overhead not having office space, you should be able to afford to get a site designed. A website is a great misleader, because if it looks well-designed and professional, people automatically assume you have a legion of web designers at your beck and call. Not always the case, but hey, who minds giving that impression?
3. Outsource Smartly.
Though I work from home, I’ve hired interns and freelance writers. No, they do not work on my couch. They work from their homes. Or coffee shops. We’re a virtual team, which makes my business stronger, and keeps me from having to pay for office space and a computer for each of them. You can do more if you delegate.
4. Meet at Their Office.
If you take client meetings, don’t invite them to your home office. Offer to come to their office, or find neutral territory, such as a coffee shop. Virtual office space is sprouting up all over the world, so if you really need a meeting room, you can see if there are offices that lease out space by the hour of a monthly fee. The benefit of these is that you typically get access to a receptionist, copy room and other technology.
5. Keep it Quiet.
If you have kids at home while you work, make sure they know that sometimes Mommy is on the phone and you absolutely cannot have them shrieking in the background. It’s bad for business. Alternately, if you can schedule your calls for certain times of day when you know the kids are out of the house or napping, you can keep your environment quiet for phone conversations.
With the technology we have available, there’s no reason you have to have an office in most situations. But don’t belittle the work you do simply because you choose to operate out of your home!