Running a business from home often carries the risk of being labeled as not being professional enough for the liking of your customers and / or clients. Rather than getting bogged down by criticism, an objective approach will help in not only removing this label but also promote your business.
Here are some ways:
Using your residence address for business purpose will most likely give an impression to your clients that they are dealing with a novice. A simple way to correct this is to get a serviced address for your business. This will obviously serve the purpose of only a post office but you can put it on your business cards and letterhead for impression as some customers tend to believe that those who work from home are not good enough for them.
Separate Phone Line
The moment your child answers a business call, it sends a wrong signal to your prospective customer. Getting a second line or a cell phone which is dedicated to your business will not only help in maintaining privacy but also ensures that important business calls are not handled in unprofessional ways.
Nowadays most of the mail and communication is done on the Internet via emails. Instead of using free emails like Yahoo!/Hotmail use one in the name of your company like firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can use the same website address on all your office stationery and in email signatures. This will go a long way in projecting a better image of your business.
Stationeries and Office Equipments
If you are sending out hard copies of letters, presentations, and brochures on cheap quality paper, you are indirectly portraying yourself in bad light. Ensure that what ever goes out of your office is printed on good quality paper and by good quality printing equipment like a laser printer. If you look hard enough you can get some of high end equipment at bargain prices.
Multiple Payment Options
Another mode of showing a professional approach is that of giving multiple paying options. Integrate options apart from checks, like credit cards and online payments. Companies like PayPal offer these services which are not only convenient but also hassle free. Their charges for transactions are a small price that you should be able to bear for the sake of the image of your business.
Apart from the above methods, the most efficient method to project your professionalism, however, is the way you work. Businesses that deliver in time and meet their commitments sincerely are the ones that flourish. One satisfied customer brings in another by word of mouth publicity and will in almost all cases project your professionalism in a much better manner than any other method will ever accomplish.
Vishal P. Rao runs the Work at Home Forum, an online community of those who work from home.