Are you a small business owner? There’s a good chance you are when you consider the statistics. Small businesses make up about 99 per cent of the total amount of businesses in both the US and in the UK, which makes them the most substantial sector of the market. However, we rarely hear much about them, and usually nothing reaches us unless we’re in their local area. So it’s time to try and change that.

Making your small business a seem more legitimate can be a hard task to do, considering the amount of stereotypical viewpoints out there. But there are some practices you can put in place, both big and small, to change consumers’ opinion of you. Here are some of the best to try out to see how your demographic responds.

Be Professional in Your Appearance

And not just in the boardroom. When you’re trying to be more legitimate towards your customer base or your clientele, there are a lot of things we forget about that can strike someone on the other end as shady. Take emails for example: if there’s no clear name or domain in the address, but just a few random numbers, you’re going to be considered a scam.

People are very hesitant about handing their details out online, as they should be, and thus it’s your job to come across as extremely trustworthy on this kind of platform. A good place to start would be with your own website; if it has a retail option, make sure any customer goes through a secured gateway. Make sure they also have the ability to store their card details online, which also means they can choose not to. It’s little things like these that all add up into the big picture that makes a user feel more comfortable with you.

Separate Your Business From You

This isn’t something the customers are going to see, but when you take the time to make sure your business is a legal entity on its own and away from you, you’re going to be much less at risk if anything goes wrong. So register your business with this point in mind.

It also means other businesses will take you a lot more seriously. Working as a sole proprietor is perfectly fine of course, but these kinds of companies rarely make it out of the home. It also means you have to cope with any fees, fines, debts, and legal action that comes your way, and you’re entirely responsible for making sure they’re dealt with. If you have no experience working for yourself, this is going to be extremely hard to keep up with.

Register with All Online Listings

If your business can be found everywhere, people are going to remember you. You’re also going to come up in search rankings when someone searches for products or services associated with you, or even your business name in full. You’ll be listed as an official business in the sidebar, with your location and website address right there for a potential customer to click through to.

As long as you have a website, and at this point you absolutely should, this is an excellent way to make sure customers do come directly to your URL. You can start your conquering of search rankings by maximising on the amount of providers out there. Google, Bing, and Yahoo all have their own business listings, and these are the top three search engines in the world.

Make Staff Approachable

So we’ve talked about the digital world, and now it’s time to focus on the physical side of business. And one great place to start with making sure your business is seen as being legitimate is your workforce. If your staff look friendly, you’re going to have a lot more positive feedback from your customers whenever they walk through your doors.

More importantly, if your staff are openly available on the shop floor, you’re going to look a lot more trustworthy to the naked customer eye. It’s clear to them in that moment that help is ready if they need it!

Treat you staff with respect. Get some Name Badges printed and have everyone who is working that day moving around the store. You see it all the times in bigger companies; staff members rearranging shelves and the like instead of just standing behind the counter. It promotes a much more active atmosphere, and gives your staff a much better presence in a customer’s mind.

Offer Customer Service

If a customer has a problem with anything you offer, do they have the ability to complain about it? Is this option clearly signposted both in your store and online? If not, it’s time to get a dedicated team for making sure anyone who comes in with a stony face goes back out again with a smile. If you don’t have any customer service, or there’s little access to it either by phone or the internet, people are going to think twice before buying from you.

You’re also going to need to train anyone who works behind this desk, as they need to be the most approachable person in all of the shop, as well as have all the information a customer could possibly need. It shouldn’t be a huge charge to manage, either you or someone already working under you could fill these shoes, and with this move you can even cut out the question, ‘Can I speak to the manager?’

Overall …

These were just a few ways you could make your small business more legitimate, and start playing on the same field as any of the bigger corporations out there. Of course, making your small business more legitimate is going to take time and money, and you’re going to naturally build a reputation the more and more you deal with people who come through your doors. Make sure they can leave a review once they’ve left, as customer to customer communication is the best way to try and increase your profits.