So you’re a small business…so am I, but that does not mean we have to think small. As a branding expert and coach for small businesses, I hear a lot of excuses. “I can’t do that. Don’t you know we’re a small business?” Or, “I wish we had the resources for that, but we’re just a small business.” Or my favorite, “As a small business, all we can afford to do is maintain the status quo.”
OK, so I made that last one up. Small businesses don’t really say that they want to maintain the status quo, but you know the saying: actions speak louder than words. What I can’t wrap my head around is why small businesses insist on thinking small. It is like we believe we get a magic pass for being a small business and we don’t have to worry about the perception that we put out in the world. We all understand that if we showed up sweats and a holy T-shirt to a business meeting, no one would take us seriously. Yet, we do show up to that meeting with a flyer printed on colored paper, and a coffee stain, with a clip art logo, and an email address that says firstname.lastname@example.org (or worse, at ymail.com). That flyer is no different from showing up in sweats. They both say, “I’m unimaginative, borderline lazy, and cheap – would you like to do business with me?”
Small business, it’s time to think big!
Enough with the excuses already! We don’t get a magic pass. The bottom line is that people judge us by our appearance. But more importantly, we judge ourselves by our appearance. It’s called confidence, and we need a little more of it. If we can’t invest a little bit of money in ourselves to spruce up our image and brand, then how can we expect anyone to take us seriously?
If we continue to think small, we will stay small. So go ahead and tell yourself that BIG corporations have all the advantages, and they’re putting the little guy out of business. That may or may not be true, but I choose to believe that even though I am small today, I can grow bigger tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. I understand that in order to do that I have to think and act big.
Ever seen the small dog complex? They are often the ones in charge of the pack. Why? Because they don’t know they’re small; all they know is that they want to be top dog, and no other dog is going to get in their way. They put on a big dog image and charge full speed ahead. I think that we all can learn a lot from the small dog.
In all seriousness, being a small business is not a disadvantage. As a whole, we are still the heart that pumps the blood through the economy. However, on the individual level, many of us need to take a little more time in the morning combing our hair and picking our outfit. If we want to be noticed, we have to look beautiful. This is important more than ever. Social Media and the Internet helps put everyone on an even playing field, but if you want to be picked to play, you have to show up with the same equipment as the big kids.
Image matters, not only does it get you noticed but it also gives you credibility. It says, “Yes, I am here to stay – you can count on me to get the job done.”