Running a small business is as exciting as it can be challenging. In the beginning, it can be hard to get your name out there and compete with bigger and more established businesses. One of the biggest obstacles many new entrepreneurs face is building their business’ credibility – not only does it take time but it can also be expensive. And with so many entrepreneurs bootstrapping their business, the amount of disposable income on-hand is often limited.
Fortunately, there are a few quick and easy things that every entrepreneur can do to legitimize their business and boost its credibility. Best of all, most of them cost next to nothing!
Curious to know more? Read on, my friend!
Buy your domain
Once you’ve chosen your business name (and hopefully, done all the necessary prep work), your next step should be to buy your domain. Your domain is the URL where your website can be found online and it can also be used for your business’ custom email address.
Regardless of whether or not you’re ready to invest in a website, buying your domain as soon as possible can save you a lot of headaches down the road. Owning your domain prevents other people from potentially buying it and creating unwanted confusion between your two businesses. As an extra precaution, it’s a good idea to buy multiple variations of your domain. For example, if your business were called Allison’s Apples, you would want to buy allisonsapples.com, allisonsapples.org and allisonsapples.co. You could then set up each variation to forward to your website’s actual address, increasing your business’ online visibility.
If you’re still undecided on your business name, now’s a great time to search a domain registrar to see what’s available. If the name you’re thinking of already exists as a domain, it’s probably worth considering something else. GoDaddy is one of many registrars out there that you can use in your search. Just type in your potential business name, hit “search” and voilà!
Set up your branded email address
A branded email address is one of the quickest – and best – ways to boost your small business’ credibility and build customers’ trust. Not only does it help create consistency across your brand but it also shows potential clients that you’re serious. Businesses that use generic email addresses like Gmail or Outlook – or worse, Hotmail! – run the risk of coming across amateurish and unprofessional.
Setting up a custom email address sounds more complicated than it actually is – all you need is your domain and an email service. While the list of email services is virtually endless, my personal favourite is Gmail; it’s friendly, familiar and gives the best bang for your buck.
(P.S. – Are you new to Google Workspace? Sign up using this link and get 10% off your first year!)
Secure your social media handles
Your business doesn’t need to be active on every social media platform. In fact, I often caution clients against having too many accounts for the simple reason that not every business will translate well on every platform. For example, if you were in the interior design business, Instagram and TikTok, which are based on visuals, would better showcase your work than a text-based platform like Twitter.
That said, just because you don’t use every platform to promote your business, doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to register your handles. Just like domains, owning your branded channels is a great way to manage your brand and eliminate the risk of someone else snagging your handle.
Pro tip: Regardless of whether you’re active on the platform, you can still use it to drive traffic to your business. Once you’ve created your branded account, simply upload a profile picture (preferably your logo), update your bio with your business’ mission or vision statement, and include a link to your website or preferred platform. This way, if someone does stumble on your inactive channel, they can be easily redirected to your business.
Incorporate your business
Although not all Canadian small businesses have to be registered or incorporated, for those that are, it’s a big step towards building credibility. Of the many benefits that come with registration, one of the greatest is the instant legitimacy that it gives your business. When you incorporate your business, it sends a message to potential clients and partners that you’re in this for the long term.
While business incorporation is a goal that many entrepreneurs are after, unfortunately, it does require a somewhat steep upfront investment. For business owners that aren’t in a financial position to take this plunge, business registration is a solid and cheaper alternative. Although it doesn’t provide the same benefits and protection as incorporation, it’s nevertheless a great way to boost a business’ credibility.
There you have it: four quick and easy ways that you can start building your small business’ legitimacy, right now, without breaking the bank. Follow these steps and you’re on your way — you’ve got this, girl!