If you think your small business can’t land those large corporate or government contracts, think again. Small business owners across the country routinely service large contractors, but to do it, they have to present themselves as running a well-established, professional business capable of servicing the complex needs of a larger company or institution.
If you want to secure these large, more lucrative contracts, take steps to look more like the businesses you want to attract. Here’s how:
1. Use larger numbers. When you send a quote or invoice, make its tracking number larger. Trying to secure a big contract or customer with quote #11 looks as if you opened your business last week or as if you don’t usually deal with clients in an official capacity. Change quote #11 to quote #11065 — and go up from there. Do the same with your invoices.
2. Give your website “plurality.” First, if you’re using a template that looks like a template, hire somebody to give your website a customized look. Next, speak in plural terms: Use “we” instead of “I.” Set up separate e-mail addresses for departments like billing, sales, and service — even if they all forward to the same person. Finally, if you have a partner who works in a different location, list it on your site, if appropriate. Multiple locations give the impression of a thriving business.
3. Drop your title. If you’re the only employee of your business, leave your title off your business cards and e-mail signatures. Yes, technically, you’re the CEO. But it’s not very CEOish to answer the phone, take all of the orders, ship products or perform services, and field tech support inquiries. Until your company grows, don’t use a formal title.
4. Keep your small-business attitude. If you hope to sign a contract with a big customer, everything you say and do has to be polished and professional. However, the advantage you have over larger businesses lies in another p-word: personal. Delivering quality work is important, but even the largest companies are full of people who want to enjoy their workday. Dealing with a pleasant person who makes their life easy and enjoyable will always set you apart from your larger competitors.
5. Don’t lie. You can take steps to make yourself look bigger without pretending to be something you’re not. Including false information in your marketing materials will eventually come back to hurt you and your business. It’s better to be small and credible than large and unethical.
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