Question: I'm a solopreneur, but I want to make my company appear like a larger entity to the outside world. What can I do?
Question by: Harry
Build a Big, Big Brand
"The best way I've found to seem bigger and more influential than you actually are is by building and maintaining a powerful brand. If you, your work, and your opinions are everywhere, the question of how many people you have working for you will likely never come up. And if it does, those asking will be even more impressed that it's just you making such a large impact."
Team Up With a Buddy
"One of the best ways I've seen lately is to team up with a bigger player in your business niche and "lend" their credibility and brand to boost yours (and thus, make you seem like a bigger fish). A few ways to do this are to co-host a business challenge together online or in some business event or launch a new product/service together. End result: Stronger brand, bigger public image."
Where's My Intern?
"Many students are looking for unpaid internships. If you work with a volunteer intern, they can answer your phones for you, respond to emails and come to pitch meetings with you. You are going to seem like a larger company, and you are doing a good deed by giving a younger person work experience."
Don't Skip Design
"The biggest entities are known for their fantastic design and branding. Most companies that have well-designed collateral, websites, and products are perceived as more important and prestigious. Spend time thinking through your brand and choose colors and design templates that reflect how you want to be perceived."
Expand Your Email Directory
"Create email addresses for different "people" and "departments" in your company, even if they all forward to you -- no one has to know that! For example, create a separate email address for accounting, legal, HR, etc."
Virtual Assistant Duties
"Hire a virtual assistant to act as a gatekeeper between you and the outside world -- answering emails, scheduling appointments, etc. This is not only good for appearance, but it'll also help you only focus on the bigger picture items while leaving the minutia to a VA."
Invest in First Impressions
"Do everything to make the perfect first impression -- you only get one. Employee uniforms, toll-free phone number with extensions for different departments (even if they all route to you) and professional voicemail greetings. Harness a succinct pitch, firm handshake and more. Picture your company five years from now, then act the part and do everything possible to grow into that image."
With Perfection, Basically
"A while back, a major airline found that crumbs on the tray table made anxious flyers even more nervous. That is, people equated crumbs on the tray table with overall sub-par airplane maintenance. The same goes for your business. If you have grammatical errors, no calls to action, no social media presence, etc. then it looks representative of a young and inexperienced firm."
You're the Boss -- Title Yourself!
"By simply calling yourself the CEO, founder, or another executive title, you and your company will automatically sound bigger than if you refer to yourself by a technician's title. Besides, one of the joys of being an entrepreneur is that you can promote yourself anytime!"
A Web of Freelancers
"The first impression a potential client will likely get about your company will come from your website. Create a great network of freelancers, and ask them for permission to post their bios on your site. If they frequently work with you, also give them email addresses. What matters most is that you have a good team to support your client's needs. As your business builds, your team will grow."
Are You Social Media Savvy?
"Using social media to interact with your community is a cheap and effective way to appear like a larger company. With the ability to create multiple profiles, you can comment and engage with a community from different viewpoints using a similar brand alignment. If you use social media intelligently, you can easily stretch out the image of your solo project."
The Fresh Website
"Perception is reality, especially online. You wouldn't go to an industry event wearing a raggedy T-shirt and jeans. On the flip side, if you're wearing a fresh suit or a crisp shirt and loafers, you look like money. The same goes for the web -- create a website that makes you look super fresh, and you will be."
Where's Your Office?
"There are few things more valuable than a Pennsylvania Avenue or Madison Avenue address for $80 per month. With virtual offices, such as Regus, you can use a prestigious address, have phones answered by a receptionist, and hold client meetings in beautiful board rooms at a low hourly rate. I highly recommend it."
Elevate Your Interns
"A strategic way to "fake it till you make it" as a solopreneur is to bring on interns and have them reach out to others as "associates." This will make your company appear like it has multiple employees -- even though it's just you."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC leads #FixYoungAmerica, a solutions-based movement that aims to end youth unemployment and put young Americans back to work.