2014 was a good year for your business, but not a great one. It is not that you did anything particularly wrong. You considered the size of your business, and made decisions based on that. If things keep progressing in this manner, you are going to have a perfectly acceptable small business one day.
There is a good chance that if you stay the course, 2015 will also be just fine. But if you are wondering when you are going to have that breakout year, the answer is, never. At least, it is never as long as you keep thinking like a small fish in a big pond. Breakout years are not about survival, but rapid growth.
But if you want to get bigger, you have to think bigger. You already know that the bigger companies get more respect than yours. Therefore, you have to find creative ways of making your company look bigger than it really is. Fortunately, there are some really inexpensive, easy, and practical ways to make that happen. Here are three:
During the sales process, meetings are of the utmost importance. How your potential clients perceive you is often the difference between making the sale and missing an opportunity. Whether or not you meet with your client face-to-face or over the phone, the important part is that you appear big enough, and professional enough for them to want to deal with you.
For the best impression, you should not meet in a coffee shop, but a conference room. If you do not have one, there are many professional office and conference spaces that you can rent. If meeting clients is a big part of your business, such spaces should be a part of your budget.
Audio conferencing is even simpler. You can choose a free audio conferencing service that gives your audio meetings all the benefits enjoyed by the big companies, but for zero dollars. It will give your clients a lot more confidence than a call from your personal cell phone.
Meetings are a great way to leave a big impression on potential clients, but not the only way. The ground you gained by your professional meeting could be lost by your unprofessional mailer. Stuffing your most important sales material into a plain white envelope is a rookie mistake that can lose you points in a hurry.
Creating custom envelopes and stationary for your business is fast, easy, inexpensive, and very important. You can get it done at your local Office Depot. Custom boxes are also very accessible to small business. There is no reason your important package should arrive at your potential client’s office looking like every other envelope and box ready for the garbage bin. Presenting poor packaging can definitely loose you points. Presenting professional packaging like the big boys, can win the contract.
There is a good chance your potential clients have heard of your bigger, better known competition. If you are flying under the radar like most small businesses, they probably have not heard of you. That has to change. There are many ways you can gain local visibility. You can hand out all kinds of branded merchandise like ink pens and USB thumb drives.
One of the best things you can do to increase visibility is to sponsor your local kids sports team, or school yearbook. Your business name and logo can be on every uniform, stadium, and much more. These are small expenses compared to the bigger marketing budget. You gain a lot of local good will. And the more people hear of you, the more they trust you. More importantly, it makes you look a lot bigger than what you really are.
If you want to be bigger, you are going to have to start by looking bigger. It is a great way to ensure that 2015 will be bigger.