Starting up a new business, especially a home based one, comes with many challenges to be faced. One of the most difficult that you are likely to encounter is the perception from potential customers that you’re not a “real business”, and they’ll sometimes behave towards you according to that perception.
As a result, you can expect to see at least some of the following symptoms:
- Expectation that you will work for free
- Expectation of a substantially lower cost than “real business”
- Expectation that there will be no contracts or paperwork
- Customers may feel you are at their beck and call, 24 hours per day
- Paying you late because they owe money to “a real company” that needs to be paid first
- Disbelief that you can really do the work, or belief that it will be substandard
- Comments intended to discourage you from “dreaming”
This kind of thing happens because people have prejudicial ideas about what a business is, about freelancers, and working from home, and an over-inflated respect for corporations
Their thinking is entrenched in history, harking back to the industrial revolution, when business tycoons literally held the fate of the working class in their hands. Consequently, the heads of corporations were worshipped as gods, and to some extent they still are today.
You can’t fight back against over 200 years of social conditioning. So you have to find a way around it, if you want to overcome it.
Attacking a problem head-on is rarely the smartest way. In business, psychology is the best weapon available. Overcoming the problem of how people perceive your business is actually not too difficult. If people think you’re too small to be taken seriously, you just need to copy the puffer fish and make yourself seem a lot larger than you really are.
Finding A Solution With A Virtual Office
Registering properly as a corporation is one step toward this. Having a corporate identity can open a lot of doors for you. But if the address of your company seems to be just your residential home or a post office box, this can lead to credibility problems.
So your corporate identity needs to be backed up by a corporate location and address. You can also add other communications channels such as professionally managed phone answering services, a corporate fax number, and so on. Obviously the cost of renting actual office space and staffing it with employees would be an expensive and excessive way to achieve this outcome, but you don’t need to spend anywhere near that kind of money.
Nowadays it is possible to rent a virtual office for a fraction of what it would cost to rent a real office, but you still get the advantage of a proper corporate address. In summary, having a virtual office improves the standing and credibility of your business, potentially creates more opportunities for you, and stops people from feeling like they are just dealing with a solitary individual. This one simple move solves the many potential problems faced by start-up businesses in terms of how they are perceived by the public.