Recently, I came across an interesting article on Jim’s Marketing Blog, “Should small businesses pretend to be bigger than they really are?” The premise of the article is that a lot of small business owners bend over backwards trying to present themselves as bigger, more professional companies. He suggests that this is a deceptive approach. I’m not so sure, and I’m not the only one.
Nick Stamoulis of Brick Marketing writes in his SEO blog:
“There is a reason why businesses out there have gotten as big as they are, they think like a big business. When you think like a big business you start to think outside the box a bit and things start to unravel.”
The challenge that small businesses face especially if they are home-based, is to project a winning image both on and off-line – and yes Jim, that might mean using the term “we” instead of “I” – because even sole proprietors often outsource parts of their projects to other experts.
Sometimes prospects will disrespect a small business based on exterior judgments. It’s not fair, but it happens. Quick story. About a month ago, I had a client stop by my home-office to discuss a writing project. We had spoken numerous times before and he was well aware of my work environment (i.e. home office).
And yet when I quoted my price, he was indignant! He suggested that my price was unjustified considering that I work from home and have no overhead expenses! Needless to say, I cut him loose.
Another troubling idea from Jim’s blog is that:
“There’s zero point in pretending you are big enough to handle a project or client, that is clearly way beyond your means.”
Pretend! That’s harsh.
And what does ‘way beyond your means’ mean anyway? Unless you really don’t have the technical skills to get the job done. Otherwise, there are ways to handle a big project and still keep the client happy:
- Ask for more time on a project if you don’t think you can complete it sooner (you can offer a discount as an incentive);
- Subcontract to another expert when you’re overwhelmed, rather than turn away a big project;
- Or just bite the bullet, sacrifice some sleep and get the job done!
- Figure out what works for you and make it work to keep the client happy – But never, ever turn away a client because you don’t feel adequate enough to handle it!
Consider Howard County Maryland, one of the top three most affluent counties in the United States. 70% of businesses in Howard County employ less than ten people! You wouldn’t know it, looking at their marketing material! Like Nick Stamoulis says, ‘they think like big businesses and they have become big businesses!”
I’m interested to hear what other small businesses and sole proprietors think about this. It is an interesting conversation! Thanks Jim.