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4 Tactics For Making Your New Business Seem More Established

If your business is just getting off the ground, it doesn’t have to appear that way.

Lauren Hooker

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First impressions are crucial. And in an age that’s more technically savvy and visually-minded than ever before, first impressions can make or break a budding new business.

People begin to form opinions about your business within the first few seconds of interaction, whether they’re looking at your business card, visiting your website or passing by your storefront.

It’s the reason we can differentiate between a mom-and-pop shop and a restaurant chain – one has a pieced-together visual identity and the other has a professional, streamlined brand.

Related: Are You the Next Vanilla Ice (aka a One-Hit-Wonder)?

The good news? Those first impressions, whether they’re accurate or off-base, are entirely up to you. The even better news? These four tactics will make your new business appear much more legitimate and won’t crush your startup budget in the process.

1. Create a streamlined visual brand

First impressions are 94percent design-related, so it should come as no surprise that your visual brand plays a large role in how others perceive the quality of your business.

The key to a streamlined visual brand is consistency. You may not have the funds to work with a professional graphic designer when you’re just starting out, but by maintaining consistency with your logo, fonts and colours, you’ll appear a thousand times more professional at first glance.

For your logo, keep it simple, scalable and legible. Develop one logo option for horizontal formats and one square variation (like an icon) to give yourself versatility, and use them over and over again.

For your fonts, take the less-is-more approach. The best way to make your brand appear unprofessional and scattered at first glance is to use a hodge-podge of mismatched fonts. So instead, choose one font for headers and one for body text across all of your business’s print and web-based material.

The same goes for your brand’s colour palette. Choose two to three primary brand colours, and stick to them time and time again. Not only will a streamlined brand increase your business’s professionalism, but it will increase memorability and recognisability among your new audience.

2. Use high-quality images

professional-photoshoot

Scroll through LinkedIn for all of one minute, and tell me you don’t take the people with professionally-taken headshots a little more seriously than those who cropped their head out of an old casual photo.

High-quality images go a long way, especially for new businesses. Invest in professional headshots as well as branded photos that can be used on your website.

Consider having them taken in your workspace or another appropriate environment, make sure the colour scheme is consistent with your visual brand and stock up on them so you can use them consistently in social media posts, newsletters, etc.

Related: 4 Steps to Better Protect Your Ideas

It may require a little cost upfront, but the results of not having high-quality photos could be much more costly in the long term.

3. Develop an attractive, user-friendly website

According to Stanford research, 75 percent of users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on the design of their website. Thankfully, with the help of website builders like Squarespace, entrepreneurs can easily create a professional-looking website for their new business in no time.

And if you’ve already developed a consistent, streamlined brand and have high-quality images at your disposal, creating an attractive website will be that much easier.

But regardless of whether you work with a designer or take the task of web design upon yourself, keep it simple and user-friendly. Include clear call-to-actions on each page.

Simplify the items in your main navigation, and organise them in a logical order. Maintain consistent fonts and colours. Steer clear of large groups of text, and provide some negative space for visitors’ eyes to rest.

In a world that’s increasingly web-based, it’s more important for new businesses to put their best foot forward through an attractive, user-friendly website.

4. Maintain a consistent, authoritative voice

If you want your business to be taken seriously in its early stages, exercise authority. Take the phrases “I think…” or, “in my opinion…” out of your vocabulary –  and go for it with gusto. Own it! Act like you’ve been there before, and demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about.

Consider this: Would you choose to undergo surgery with a doctor who spoke timidly and seemed uneasy with the procedure or one who spoke confidently and seemed familiar with the procedure? It’s a no-brainer.

Related: What I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My Business

So take note of your business’s tone of voice, whether on social media, webinars, emails or your website – and maintain confidence and consistency.

If your business is just getting off the ground, it doesn’t have to appear that way. Implement these tactics to put your best foot forward, and make a positive, professional first impression.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Lauren Hooker is the founder of Elle and Company, a blogging, business and design resource for creative entrepreneurs. She helps others turn their creative passion into a profitable business.

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How The Sanlam Enterprise And Supplier Development Programme Is Helping Start-up Businesses

The balance between funding, business development and mentorship can make or break an enterprise development programme

Francois Adriaan

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Sanlam Enterprise and Supplier Development

165 new employment opportunities, 172 SMEs developed and 1046 jobs sustained. These are some of the numbers recorded by Sanlam as the company prepares to wrap up the fourth year of its Sanlam Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) programme.

The flagship incubation scheme has turned around loss-making enterprises, helped some participants get critical accreditation and funding, but most importantly, R12.6 million was spent procuring goods and services from the participating businesses by the end of 2016.

Related: Enterprise Development Programmes For Black Entrepreneurs

Receiving funding isn’t the secret to start-up success

Francois Adriaan, head of Sanlam Foundation says the secret to a successful enterprise development programme is not the amount of funding big corporates can give SMEs: “It’s having the right mix of mentorship; business intervention and procurement spend flowing from your corporate to small businesses.

You have to show the entrepreneur you are mentoring that you trust them enough to do business and walk the journey with them instead of giving them a once-off grant and leaving them to their own devices,” says Adriaan.

Financial support that’s timed to business need

Like in many other ESD programmes, participants in the Sanlam ESD programme also have access to funding. But what sets the programme apart from others, says Adriaan is that the amount of funds disbursed to each participating businesses is directly linked to its need, its commitment and progress record.

“Financial support is timed according to the specific needs of each SME. Those who qualify for funding are then provided with a further seven years of SME growth support through the ASISA Enterprise Development Fund.”

The Sanlam ESD programme

The Sanlam ESD programme was launched in July 2013 in collaboration with the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA) to empower SMEs, create jobs and contribute to economic growth in South Africa. An independent evaluation shows that participating enterprises have grown their annual revenue by 19% on average.

D&P Auto participants

One of the programme participants is D&P Auto, a panel beating business based in Retreat. For two decades, the owners of the business (husband and wife) poured their life savings, bank loans and even pension policy pay-outs into the business to keep it afloat because it was not making profit. Three years of focused business incubation and mentoring under the Sanlam ESD programme resolved D&P Auto’s 20-year loss-making battle.

“Our business has grown from a non-profitable business to the extent that we now have to pay provisional taxes to SARS for the first time in 24 years,” said Pam Douglas on their business maiden profit.

Successes of the incubation programme

The incubation from the programme has helped other participants brush up their bookkeeping skills, file successfully for tenders and get accreditation that took their businesses to the next level.

G&T Auto, the only fully accredited Major Structural Repairer in the programme, bagged Mazda accreditation last year, a rare accolade that will see the enterprise repair Mazdas that are still under warranty. The owner, Thembi Sithole says the programme has given her confidence to approach bigger clients as she now understands the requirements to get big contracts. She has also become more knowledgeable about financial statements and their impact on obtaining funding.

Related: Why Employee Engagement Programmes Backfire And What You Can Do About It

Adriaan says enterprise development initiatives of this nature give big corporates an opportunity not only achieve their business objectives, but also impact broader South African society.

“This commitment is around impacting issues of inter-generational poverty, unemployment and inequality. It is also about aligning around public-private-civil society partnerships in sustainable ways,” concludes Adriaans.

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Are You Ready For A Side Hustle? Here’s How To Know

We talk to side hustle pro Susie Moore about who should jump into entrepreneurship and when is a good time to take the leap.

Andrea Huspeni

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side-hustle

It seems like everyone has a side hustle. Indeed, 1 in 4 millennials have a side hustle, part of the  54 million Americans making money outside of their pay cheque.

But are you ready to get your hustle on?

According to Susie Moore, a life coach and the founder of Side Hustle Made Simple, you are always ready to begin a side hustle. You just need to know where to begin.

Related: 3 Ways To Set Your Side Hustle Up For Success

Moore has helped thousands of people take the leap from concept to creation in making their entrepreneurial dreams a living, breathing reality by launching a risk-free side hustle. She left her $500,000 job after her own side hustle took off within just 18 months.

She’s also the author of What if it DOES Work Out? How a Side Hustle Can Change Your Life released this fall, speaker and adviser to startups. Her work has been featured on the Today Show, Marie Claire and more.

To help aspiring entrepreneurs understand what it takes to be a side hustler, Moore is joining us for this week’s episode of Tough Love Tuesday, our Facebook Live series that connects experts with side hustlers for real-time advice and support.

Related: 50 Jobs, Gigs And Side Hustles You Can Do From Home

Specifically, she’ll share:

  1. The qualities all side hustlers need
  2. Advice that turns great ideas into action
  3. Strategies for making money right away
  4. Ideas for perfect side hustles
  5. Productivity hacks that prevent burnout.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Launch

(Video) Why Your ‘Great Idea’ Actually Sucks

Don’t get caught up in coming up with the next big idea.

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Everyone wants to come up with the next Uber, Facebook or Tesla. But, if Entrepreneur Network partner Patrick Bet-David has to choose between someone with a great idea and someone with great sales skills, he’s taking the salesperson every time. Why?

Related: The 3-Step Approach For Testing Out Your Business Idea

Well, look at the history of great businesses. Ray Kroc didn’t start McDonald’s, but he learned how to sell the fast food restaurant and made far more in his life than the actual McDonalds brothers. Steve Jobs couldn’t code like Steve Wozniack, but he knew how to sell Apple, and his estate is worth far more now than Wozniack’s.

Facebook, Tesla and more. Each time, it seems like the great salesperson ends up earning more than the person who created the great idea to start with.

Watch the video to learn more about the relationship between great ideas and great sales techniques.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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