As much as people would like to believe that business is a complete meritocracy, the reality is often distinctly different. Big clients often choose large firms over small not because of their inherent experience or ability, but because of their appearance. At the same time, numerous ultra-skilled contractors are passed over in favor of the loud and flashy, not because of ability, but because of the way they project themselves.

Projecting Professionalism When Running Businesses From Home

In a lot of ways, business is all about showing off. Not bragging, but showing other companies, potential clients, and customers exactly what can be done for them. Some call it marketing, while others simply call it intelligent entrepreneurship. The names are not important — what is important is that people can apply the same presentation and professionalism to their home-based businesses. These four tips should help them in doing so:

1: Home Business Websites Should Command Authority

To put it bluntly, most small business websites are horrible. They are either devoid of content, or completely starved of any internet marketing sense. Their designs might be passable, but as an entire package, they are typically uninspired and dull.

Those running businesses from home should invest in a website that sets their company apart from their competitors. They should create a solid and powerful call to action, incorporate social media if it is right for their company, and do not settle for anything less than a website that grabs attention and holds on to it.

2: Clients Should Be Met in Person Whenever Possible

Obviously, this is not possible for home-based businesses that are 100% online. But those who run local businesses from home have really got to make sure that they build concrete connections with clients. As annoying as it is, there is a slight stigma that is occasionally attached to home-based businesses. By meeting potential clients in person, those running businesses from home can develop real relationships with their clients.

3: Professional Invoicing, Communications, and Billing Tools Should Be Used

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If there is one thing that separates the legit from the non-legit amongst home-based businesses, it is the tools that are used to invoice and bill clients and customers. A simple email with pricing lists does nothing to build authority and trust, while a pre-formatted PDF file with company information shows authority and professionalism right from the get go. Sometimes all it takes are a few changes — a new email signature for example — that put a home business firmly in the ‘professional’ space.

4: Home Business Marketing Efforts Should Focus on Developing a Brand

Branding is not just for companies like Nike and Coca-Cola. While small businesses, particularly home-based businesses, might not have the manpower or financial resources to buy billboards, that does not mean that they do not have the potential to brand themselves effectively. Using social media tools and online communities, it is possible to bring a home business to larger audiences and build a name that people trust.

From basic branding to specialized invoicing tools, these four tips will help any home business gain respect, attract clients, and build relationships with loyal customers.