2. Focus on details. The hallmark of a successful, established business is fulfilling the commitments you’ve made to your company and clients. “Delivering on your promises, meeting deadlines and adding value are things that matter in business relationships,” Post says. “Focus your energy on those things.”
3. Create a strong Web presence. No matter how small your business is, you can always have a professional website — and with tools like WordPress, you can do so inexpensively. If you have a virtual assistant or other contractors working with you, Rhoades-Baum recommends giving everyone an email address linked to your company URL to make your company appear more established.
In addition to building a high-quality site, “utilize all social media options for people to easily find you and your company,” Sullivan says. “While it seems easy, it’s remarkable how many small companies still under-utilize social media.”
4. Dress for success. Don't underestimate how your appearance and “other choices in packaging and behavior,” such as your grammar, courtesy and professionalism, “can either make you appear like an established firm or scream that you just started your business yesterday,” Post says.
5. Don’t commit to more than you can manage. “The biggest risks associated with size is taking on more than you can handle,” Sullivan says. “While we all dream of getting that big order from a Fortune 100 company, be sure that you can deliver on the promises you are making to close the deal. Once you have disappointed a client, the chance of them trusting you again — or the next small company that comes calling — is greatly reduced.”
Before attempting to portray your business as larger than it is (yet), carefully consider how you want your company and your brand to be viewed. “Finding the right way to brand your particular business really depends on the target market and price point,” Pennington says. “Whatever you choose to define your brand and explain your service, make sure it honors your integrity as a company and as a leader. We all start somewhere. It’s not where you start [that matters]. It’s where and how you finish.”
[Editor’s note: A previous version of the story included an anecdote mistakenly attributed to Sarah Sullivan. It has been deleted from this version.]