The small business economy in the United States is extraordinarily competitive these days. Even if the coronavirus pandemic has brought about a setback in small business activity, the fact remains that the country is full of innovative, entrepreneurial spirit. In Tennessee alone, where The Best Time operates from, there are over 500,000 small businesses, according a Business News Daily report from a few years ago.
This makes for a wonderful environment for anyone in the Tennessee area (or really the country as a whole) who may be starting a small business of his or her own. But it also poses significant challenges. With so many small businesses in so many industries now prevalent throughout the state, you have to figure out how to establish an air of legitimacy that will allow your business to stand out.
Here are just a few ways to go about doing so.
Hone Your Online Presence
This may be the single most important effort you can focus on when establishing legitimacy for a small business in 2020. In our article on how to “Market Your Business for Long-Term Success” we touched on this concept by looking into different ways to drive traffic on social media. We covered boosting Google searches, establishing a presence on YouTube, getting active on Facebook and Instagram, and even starting a podcast. All of these can help not just to get the word out about your business, but to turn you into an online fixture. Consciously or subconsciously, many consumers today learn to appreciate businesses they consistently see being active online as legitimate, trustworthy operations.
Make Your Company Legitimate
Another small but important way to boost the appearance of legitimacy is to literally make your company legitimate! This means registering with the state government and the IRS in such a way that the company becomes less of a private venture and more of a recognized entity. The Tennessee LLC formation steps outlined by ZenBusiness will give you a little bit more of an idea of what this entails, and it’s worthwhile to read the fine print. But the main takeaway is that this is an easier step to take than you might expect. Only a few tasks need to be fulfilled, and your business can become an official Limited Liability Company, or LLC.
Invite Reviews & Write-Ups
When you’re established, and your business is operational, it’s also a good idea to reach out to relevant online entities, local publications, and even independent influencers. Speak to them, invite reviews, and welcome write-ups of your products or service offerings. This can take some time, and it can even make you a little bit nervous given that you never truly know what to expect from an honest review. But ultimately, these reviews and write-ups serve as publicity, and further the sense that your business should be taken seriously.
Interact With Popular Local Businesses
Our last tip is to do your best to interact with popular local businesses whenever the opportunity arises. This will mean different things depending on the nature of your business. But as one example, consider what you could achieve by working with some of the Thrillist's most popular restaurants in Memphis. If you’re just opening your business, you can hold a grand opening celebration and advertise that one of these restaurants is catering the event, for instance. Again, it’s just one example, but it shows how working with local businesses can get you a boost. Partnering for even one event with a popular, well-known restaurant attaches you to that restaurant’s brand. It will get your business a more serious look from others who know and trust the restaurant.
Building legitimacy for your business is ultimately a process, and one that you’ll work on continually. But hopefully the ideas listed here have given you a few things to think about in the early going. Making your business as recognizable and trustworthy as you can when it’s still new is an excellent way to set the pace for long-term success.