Getting ahead in the current economic climate is difficult for many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
But one thing that may be holding some back is a weak professional image. A survey by O2 Business suggests that SMEs are losing out on around £13 billion each year because they fail to make an impression with potential customers and clients.
Everything from a company’s business address, use of technology and presence on social media sites matters.
In terms of office location, for example, it is understandable that growing companies may not be able to afford to pay the high rates associated with rental of a dedicated workspace. But rather than using a home address on correspondence and business cards, a virtual work address provided by a serviced office company looks much better.
These firms can also provide SMEs with a work telephone number, with their own employees on hand to take calls and messages for you if you are unavailable – this helps to forge a more professional image.
Technology is the next thing for growing SMEs to tackle. Investing in the early stages has numerous benefits for the long term. Cloud computing, for instance, provides a great deal of flexibility, meaning managers are free to grow their company in the most suitable way without being tied down to IT providers or unnecessary equipment.
Storing data on the cloud means it can be accessed from anywhere, cutting down on maintenance costs at the same time. In addition, it lowers risk, promotes innovation and represents a hassle-free IT solution.
Once these basics are in place, it is time to grow your brand by strengthening your online presence.
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are an indispensable tool for SMEs. Not only are they free to use, but they provide a channel through which to communicate directly with consumers and clients, thereby promoting brand engagement.
Make sure updates are regular and relevant to your industry, without promoting your own business or service too much – as this will only put people off. Instead, provide interesting, engaging and informative content.