Since major changes in the economy just under a decade ago, many professionals have struck out on their own to work from home. In spite of this growing trend, however, there are still those who view those who work from home as somehow less professional than those who take a commute to an office. Some managers and clients still have the idea that these freelancers are focused on everything else except for work.
If you want to overcome this stigma, it’s necessary to project an image of professionalism. You might be working from home in your bunny slippers, and that’s perfectly okay, but there are some things you can do to demonstrate to the outside world that you’re just as serious as those who slave away in their open cubicles.
Have a dedicated phone line for your business
Hearing a dog barking, screaming children, or a television blaring when they call is a turnoff for any potential client or business contact. Having a dedicated land-based business line helps solve this problem, even better if you can put it in an area of your home reserved as an office.
If having a dedicated land line for your business is impossible, consider getting a separate mobile phone for your business and keep it in your working area. Just don’t confuse it with your personal phone.
Believe it or not, business cards are still a thing. When you meet someone in person, these are extremely useful and quick for giving your new contact your personal information. Business cards can also be printed out at your desk for very little expense. The issue is that without graphic design experience, these can look very cheap.
Fortunately, there are print shops in every major metropolitan area which will be glad to print out your cards. If you’re more suited to going online, we love the playing card style of cards that we can get from Moo.com. You have a huge field of choices, and you don’t have to spend a lot for professionally printed cards.
If you’re not having clients enter your home, then you need to develop an online presence and a way to network. The internet is full of networking sites for professionals. LinkedIn, for example, is a great place to get your business seen and start building your client list.
“But there are other sites too” notes entrepreneur and business owner Alex Perdikis. “If you are just starting out, take a look at Crunchbase, which focuses on startup businesses.”
Maintaining a Professional Image at Meetings
If you want to maintain that professional image for your clients, you need to consider how you will handle the times when clients want to interact with you face to face, whether actually in-person or through video conferencing. This means boundaries must be set with family members about how things are handled during your office hours. You can always meet with clients and professional business associates at their offices or over lunch or some other neutral place. If, however, they do need to come to your home, make sure it’s clean and that the rules are set up in such a way that pets and children are less likely to interfere.
Just because you’re at home does not mean that you cannot simultaneously be a multi-million-dollar business owner. You’re competitive advantage is that you can offer the same types of services as any brick and mortar business, but you have to give the impression that you are just as professional. The key is to remember that projecting a professional image no matter where you are will go a long way to help in your business’ overall success.