A common theme I have noticed over the years of working with small businesses is they often want to appear like a large company. I generally frown on this for a multitude of reasons, though mostly because small businesses have a uniqueness that a large company cannot hope to match. Focus on your strengths. ¬¨‚Ä†Don’t try to be something you’re not.
When I first started out with Amprewave, I wanted it to seem like it was much bigger than it was. I thought this would provide me with prestige and get me more clients. I set up multiple email accounts for Sales, Billing and every other division I could think of. I used a phone service that let me set up multiple lines for when someone called‚Äö√Ñ√Æ”press one for‚Äö√Ñ¬∂”‚Äö√Ñ√Æeven though they all range through to me.
I thought this was really cool and made me look like hot shit until I had a prospective client call me. He was irritated that he had to listen for which number to call. He called only because he wasn’t sure which email to use. We did not even talk about business. Instead, he just said that he was looking for a smaller agency to work with and that we were not right for him. He thanked me for my time and hung up.
I don’t know about you, but if someone is going to that much effort (or any effort for that matter) to reach out to you, they are probably really interested in what you have to offer. That is almost unheard of in today’s world. I put this guy off because I thought it would get me more clients. I realized that I was probably losing more clients than I would ever gain by trying to act bigger than I really was.
As a small business, you only need one email address with at least one person paying attention to it. Same thing goes for the a phone number, and don’t do what I did and have menus. Someone should answer it during office hours (or even after office hours if you are crazy like I am).
Keep in mind that you are a small business and that many other small businesses, quite a few large companies, enjoy working with you. They like the attention, the easy access, and the lack of red tape. All of our clients know they can always reach me–the owner of the company–whenever they want (can you reach the CEO of AT&T?). They want a human experience, so give it to them. As a small business you excel at this.
Don’t try to be something you are not. This is true in business just as it is in life.