Here are some practical tips and recommendations for when you’re setting up a business, or when you’re up and running as a small business.
A lot of people use Vistaprint for their first business cards, but personally I prefer the quality provided by BrunelOne. Everything is done online and they can help you with your design as well. You can get 100 cards from £20 and they look fantastic! Go for smaller quantities at first so that you can make changes when needed. Nothing is more unprofessional than a business card with a handwritten telephone number or email address. Get a small quantity and throw away any ones that are no longer relevant.
Tip: always use both sides of the business card and leave some space for people to make notes. Make sure you add your Twitter name, Facebook Page, Skype name and blog (as well as your name, address, phone, email and website of course). Or, if you don’t want that much information on the card, just add your website and make sure all this information is easy to find on the website.
I know you can get 0845 numbers very easily, but a lot of people (including myself) don’t like them as they are not free or cheap when calling them from a mobile. So, get yourself a “normal” landline number, but use Voice over Internet instead. Vonage provide a great service from £7 per month, with a £15 set up cost, and that includes free calls to UK landlines, as well as all sorts of features (such as voice mail, 3-way calling, call diversion, caller display etc) that normally cost extra.
Whether you’re a small or a big business; people want to talk to you when they ring you. Nobody likes talking to an answerphone, and a lot of business is lost because of it. Nowadays, you can get a call answering service from as little as £20 for a pay-as-you-go service. You only pay for the calls that they answer, so this can last anything up to 3 months. Your phone will be answered with your name by an actual person, and you get a message with the details by email or text. Check out Answer.co.uk from JAM. They also provide additional services if needed, such as appointment booking etc.
If you’re in business, you should be involved in social media in one way or another. There is a lot to it, but just to get started, here is the minimum you should do:
Get on Twitter. Use your own name if you can, or something with your company name. Add a photo (people buy from people) and make sure you put a combination of business and peronsal information in the short biography, as this is what people will look at first. Find people to follow by searching for keywords that interest you. Once you find a few people, look at who they are following and follow some of their followers. Or look at lists they feature in and follow people from that list. Don’t know what to tweet? Just re-tweet someone else’s interesting stuff. It will get you more followers and make you interesting.
Get a Facebook page. Nowadays you don’t need to link it to your personal page, and there are lots of applications that let you personalise them. One of them is pagemodo. Also think about Facebook advertising: it is super targetted and now more effective than Google Adwords.
Get on LinkedIn and join some groups of people who are relevant for your business. Again, use a photo on your profile and get some recommendations from people. Ask to be introduced to people you’d like to connect with and build your network.
Install Hootsuite and integrate all of the above applications. For Twitter, set up some “streams” for keywords that you are interested in.
That’s it for now as I don’t want to overload you. Let me know if there is anything in specific that you would like help with and I’ll talk about it next time.