We’ve discussed at length the impact color, smell, and general atmosphere can have on a small business’s workspace, but there are some other basics worth covering to be sure your office doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to professional image. The vast majority of these are items attainable for a variety of small businesses, so don’t fret if finances are tight or you’re just getting things started up! Or, if you’ve been business for a while, make sure you are able to check off many of the items listed below.
- Have a front desk, and person behind it. We understand that not every small business owner can immediately afford to have employees, but a large number of shared offices and coworking spaces offer this amenity, and with good reason. Having a smiling face available to greet any visitors gives your business a professional edge and certainly a more reputable image. It’s equally as helpful to have an individual present to sign for packages or relay messages. At Denver Virtual Offices, this is a service we strive to provide for all our members.
- Keep it clutter-free. At the end of the day, try to take a few minutes and organize your desk to make it look sleek and clear. Don’t make a habit of keeping anything out that pertains to your clients or associates. Visitors to your office may notice this and worry about the security of their own documents should they work with you. Also be sure that you have an organized filing system that gives them further confidence in the work you do. Having piles of paperwork haphazardly stacked in your office is a surefire way to create a *bad* impression.
- Display business cards. On your desk, have cards easily visible and accessible to any who may walk by or physically meet with you. Be sure your information is up-to-date and the card is easy to read and reflects the professional style you desire. No need to go all Patrick Bateman on them, but they should not only exist, but also look presentable.
- Have appropriately-sized furniture. If furniture is too large or too small for the space, it gives off an unprofessional impression. Ideally you want items that utilize the space without making it look overcrowded or inefficient (neither adjective you want associated with your company!). Fortunately, coworking or shared office space often provide furniture (we do at DVO!), but keep this in mind if you provide your own, or if you add guest chairs or lamps from elsewhere.
- Remember, your office is an ever-open window to your business. Even when you don’t have a meeting scheduled with a client, treat your office like you are always expecting an important CEO. In shared office spaces, you never know when a neighbor might stop by for a chat, or have a friend in tow that could easily be a potential client. If you have a home-office, keep your workspace similarly organized and professional to remind yourself why you’re there.
When you next enter your office, try to occasionally do so by pretending it isn’t yours for an objective view. Change the lighting, or imagine what it might look like from the nearby window as an outsider looking in. If you have friends or family you can trust to be honest, request their opinion of your office space and the impression it gives. It may not be exactly what you want to hear, but try to take their suggestions to heart, especially if you hear similar comments from multiple people. If you’ve made it so far as to have an office space (or even desk in a shared area), take the time to help it live up to the expectation you have for yourself as a small business owner and that it displays your professional drive accurately!