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A professional front door: Make the first impressions count

When you run a business from home, you realise the importance of extending a professional welcome to existing clients and potential customers. Presenting to prospects a reception that says ‘we are in business, here to serve and quality is our aim.’ There are a number of ways to extend such a welcome.

By post
You might want to hide your address; maybe it sounds too domestic or you just don’t want people turning up on your doorstep! You can do this with a P.O. Box number that’s easily set up with Royal Mail. Or, rent a mailbox at Mail Boxes Etc., which gives a more tailored and personal service than a P.O. Box. You get a nice sounding address – and a place to meet other home business owners.

For a London address, have a look at http://www.hubworking.net and http://www.londonpresence.com/ for inexpensive mailing addresses and virtual offices.

By phone
It’s cheap and sometimes free to get an 0845 local rate number or an 0870 national rate number for your home business. It will hide where you’re based and divert calls to wherever you specify. Bear in mind, though, that having such a number – especially with national rates – might put customers off ringing you.

If you use a landline number it’s best to have a separate line for home and for business. It will stop your business calls from being answered by the kids and give you a chance to escape work calls when you want to. You don’t need to invest in an actual second line as VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is an option. This uses a broadband internet connection to make and receive calls. The VoIP service I use and recommend is Skype

Skype also offer a landline number facility starting from £1.95.  Click here to find out how to get your own SkypeIn phone number

To have someone take calls when you can’t, consider a call-handling service like Moneypenny. They answer calls with your company name, text on urgent messages and email the others, giving you a big business feel and giving customers a professional welcome that inspires confidence.

On the web
This could be the topic of a full feature in itself! Your website is sometimes the first thing potential customers see – and they’ll make a judgement in seconds! Create a well-designed site by hiring a professional designer or build your own and include the basic pages:

About us/ News/ Products or services/ FAQs/ Contact us

If you’re not ready to invest in a bells and whistles website, set up a blog to show off your products and services. This can be done for free via blogger.com or wordpress.org (this website has been built in WordPress)

Face-to-face
Meeting clients outside the home office offers another opportunity to show how professional you are. Find a venue that chimes with your brand and that will create the right impression. Anyone who visits my site will know I’m a member and huge fan of private member’s club, One Alfred Place. It provides me with a professional base in the city and a space in which clients feel comfortable about doing business.

Investing in these services will make you look professional and well and truly open for business.

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About the Author:

Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation and author of Spare Room Start Up: How to Start a Business from Home

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About Emma Jones

Emma Jones is Founder and Editor of Enterprise Nation, the home business website. She has successfully started two businesses from home offices in London, Manchester and rural Shropshire. Following a career with an international accountancy firm, Emma started her first home based business at the age of 27 and successfully sold it just 15 months after launch. Redbrick Enterprises Ltd was founded in 2002 to advise the public sector on effective homeworking. Spotting a gap in the market to provide information and inspiration to homeworkers, Emma launched Enterprise Nation [www.enterprisenation.com], the home business website, in January 2006. The website is a free resource for people starting and growing a business at home and has a readership of more than 390,000 people. As well as site content, there is also a free fortnightly e-newsletter and podcast. Emma’s first book on how to start a business from home Spare Room Start Up: How to Start a Business from Home will be published by Harriman House in May 2008.

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