Evan Carmichael knows a thing or two about running a business. At the age of 19, he became the owner and chief operating officer of Redasoft, a biotechnology software company.
Today, Carmichael, a University of Toronto commerce and finance graduate and international small business motivational and strategist speaker, owns Evan Carmichael Communications Group, which helps entrepreneurs put their businesses centre stage.
According to Carmichael, small business owners who work from home have two choices; they can bring clients to their homes to have meetings alongside their pets and dirty laundry or they can take clients to a café or a rented office space. Carmichael lives by the latter because, in business, first impressions matter.
“As entrepreneurs, we need to do whatever it takes to be taken seriously,” says Carmichael.
According to Carmichael, regardless of your startup budget, there are certain elements like a company’s telecommunications system that simply can’t be sacrificed.
“You must always be reachable. You might not be able to afford a 24/7 receptionist, but a cellphone or a separate line that your family members aren’t picking up when clients call can act as a 24/7 fax machine or voice mail,” says Carmichael. “Outsourcing your calls to a toll-free number will be free to your customers and will also create a more global, competitive profile of your company.”
Max Kalles, chief executive officer of We Simply the Internet (WSI) in the Markham office, says for businesses — regardless of their size — online presence is also important. “We help businesses monitor the traffic to their sites and then we convert that traffic into potential leads and customers. If your site looks poor it limits the influence you’ll make on potential clients,” says Kalles.
Carmichael suggests that company websites should include key words that will be picked up by search engines like Google. He also suggests creating contact e-mail links to boost the online credibility.
“Even if you are the accountant, the receptionist and the owner, creating a separate e-mail using your domain as the e-mail address ... furthers your company status,” says Carmichael.
For more on small business operations, visit www.EvanCarmichael.com