Young Upstarts

All about entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, ideas, innovation, and small business.

Fostering An Illusion Of Big Business (On A Small Budget)

office skyline view

There’s a romance around the idea of a small startup forming in a garage, mom’s basement, or a dorm room. It’s quaint and flexible – it’s just you, maybe a few friends, and an idea. Pure bootstraps.

This is (and in some ways still) fine and all when you’re toying with the idea of going full-time but it eventually gets in your way. Working out of the garage (and the others) doesn’t give clients, investors, and other business-types a good impression.

The game has changed.

Appearance is everything in business. The product or service could be phenomenal but if the brand image is tarnished or feeling “cheap” then the rest goes down with it. We, consumers, want to be a part of a business that shows some chops.

There are quite a few ways to make the business appear bigger than it is – like:

  • Using virtual secretaries
  • Hosting at conference rooms
  • Professional designs
  • Adding contractors to the force
  • Showing off your associations

… among plenty of others, you’ll pick up along the way.

These items are inexpensive to implement and rather easy to do once you have the right resources. The business, with these in place, will appear larger and thus professional. This builds a respected perception of the business and brand which may unlock new opportunities in building revenue and growth.

Here is how your business could implement these:

Virtual secretaries can create a chain of command which makes the business appear to be broken into a professional hierarchy. These assistants can be found through platforms like Zirtual, VirtualEmployee, and UpWork. Give these individuals tasks such as answering the phone, responding to emails, and managing social media for a quick bump in a bigger perception.

Conference rooms are where deals are made and business relationships are formed. Access to these conference rooms can be found through services on a per-hour basis. These services provide a modern executive office for housing the one-on-one’s which sets a precedent in professionalism.

Professional designs for the website, business card, and marketing material goes a long way. A stunning, professional website grips the visitor and is used as a facet to highlight work and employees. Great business cards and materials show that the business goes the extra mile. It gives an immediate impression that the business isn’t just a pop-up shop in some basement.

Contractors, much like virtual assistants, can be used to make the team appear larger than it really is by listing them on the employee page. This is a nice nod to the contractors while showing off a “team” that’s larger than what’s really going on at the place.

Value by association is a powerful tool in creating a strong brand. Showing whom the business has worked with automatically creates an association that the company is a strong contender in the industry. It’s brand building by rubbing shoulders with the big players. List the brands you’ve worked within a dedicated section of the homepage or sidebar.

There are other ways (adding an online shop, 24/7 live chat, and logistics branding) that will do the trick.

The goal is to appear large enough to gather attention. This attention builds reputation and trust. These all lead to new opportunities for growth and profitability.

Look at how other young startups present themselves in interviews. There’s a tonal shift in how they talk about their business – some are naïve but they’re radiating professionalism. They have a small workforce but the way they’re presenting the business would make it seem like it’s a big-time operation.

Do that for yours.

It’s not lying – it’s bending the truth. If the product/service is good and is only being held back because it seems like the business is too volatile then play the game and make it appear larger than it really is.

How do you make your business (and its image) look professional when you’re only at the beginning?


Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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