By Brooke Chaplan

Starting your own business is an exciting time, full of new challenges and possibilities. However, you can hurt your venture by making a poor first impression with potential clients, vendors, and the general public. It doesn’t matter if you’re launching a tiny one-person business from home, or an international startup, opinions and impressions matter. If you want to make a great first impression, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Know Your Competition
Before ever opening your doors, you need to know all about the market climate and your competition. See what you can do differently or better than them. If you are launching yourself as a freelance writer, your education or background could give you a unique voice. If you’re opening a bakery, your knowledge about gluten-free baking or vegan needs could set you apart. Know your strengths and don’t be afraid to enumerate them to potential clients.

Have a Pricing Structure
For quote-based businesses, it pays to have a general pricing structure in place. If work will be billed per hour, have a fair rate in mind. If you’ll need supplies, know where to get them, the timeframe, and how much your labor is worth. You don’t want to undercut your goods or services or present inflated prices, so plan your pricing carefully.

Communicate Professionally
While you don’t need to sound stuffy or self-important, it is essential to communicate in a professional manner and tone. This includes emails, social media, and telephone communications. Try not to have children squealing in the background during phone calls, don’t use foul language, and avoid unpleasant interactions when at all possible. In today’s world, a single misstep can go viral. Be vigilant and true to your professionalism. Make sure your contact information is presented clearly and easily as well. A confusing webpage or generic business cards and leave the feeling of distaste with your consumers. Have professionals like 4 Color Print create personalized cards or get an outside company to design your website. Sometimes doing everything yourself can set the business back.

Put Your Best Work Out
If you run a printing business, having typos and poor quality photography on your brochures is suicidal to your venture. If you are marketing your translation skills, poor grammar and incorrect verb conjugation in your samples undermines your credibility. Always display your very best work. Double, and triple check the final products before sending them out.

Know Your Limitations
Some entrepreneurs take on far more than they can chew when their business is young, leading to huge problems and a poor first impression with the public. For example, if you’re launching a one-person flower shop, you may not be ready to provide flowers for an enormous wedding with a 25-person bridal party and 20 ushers. If you make bespoke wood furniture and have only one other employee, you may not be ready to handle an order for 30 new pews at the local church. Know your capabilities and don’t dig yourself in too deep.

Making a good first impression is integral to the ongoing success of your business. By keeping these tips in mind, you can leave everyone with a great opinion of you and your venture.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.