The New Entrepreneur and Credibility
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So you have taken the plunge. You are now in business for yourself. One of the main challenges that the new entrepreneur has is establishing credibility with customers and clients. Credibility means that people believe that you are in business to stay and that you have the ability to deliver the product or service that you say you can offer. This is imperative, especially if you are in a business that requires that people trust you. How do you establish credibility? Here are a few suggestions:
First, as a professional New Jersey business broker, I highly recommend that you get an office. I know, working from home does not have the stigma associated with it that it did years ago, but having an office will help to send the message that you are in business to stay. It does not have to be expensive or elaborately furnished, just neat and in a safe area.
Second, don’t dress like you are on the way to the beach every day. Dress as you would if you were working in your field for an employer. This may mean a suit and tie, or “business casual”. Business casual does not mean shorts, a tee shirt, and flip flops.
Third, answer the phone professionally. “Good morning, XYZ Company. How may I help you”? Alternatively, “how may I direct your call”? Not HELLO. And not YEAH, or some other low rent response.
Fourth, have stationery professionally printed; don’t just run if off the word processor. Running it off a word processor makes you look small time and cheap.
Fifth, the same as is the case with stationery, have your website professionally designed and written. I wrote my website because I have professional-level writing skills, but most people do not have this ability. I did hire a professional for the design and optimization work.
Sixth, establish regular hours and stick with them. If your hours are 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, then the phone is answered at 9:00 AM, not 9:15. Office staff should be instructed that if they are in the office, and the phone rings before or after hours, it is to be answered, regardless of the time. Not doing so should be a firing offense.
Last, never look cheap to the customer. Always create the impression of generosity. This means that if you own a restaurant and a customer complains about the food, he or she is always right: “I am sorry sir, may I get you something else on the house, and how about a free cocktail”? Not, why don’t you like it? Alternatively, if you are in the limousine business, and the customer is 10 minutes late, you do not bill him for an extra 10 minutes as you are a school teacher upbraiding a tardy 12-year-old: “you were 10 minutes late, I have to charge you”. You get the idea.