The absolute foundation of your small business is your image. The way potential clients and/or customers perceive your business sets the stage for the way your product or service is recognized and ultimately judged. Image is everything and it will affect your business either positively or negatively.

What do you want people to think about when they see your image? When they see your logo, business card, brochure or website, what will they think? Cheap? Expensive? Professional? Successful? Expert? Amateur? Failure?

It doesn’t matter if you have been in business six years or six days, the failure to recognize just how important your image is and just how much people will judge you based on that image, is a huge mistake. It is a mistake that will have a lasting impact on the long-term success of your small business.

People’s perception tends to become their reality. How much do you charge? Is your product or service the best? Would people be crazy not to do business with you? Are you the most experienced and most qualified professional in your industry?

Does your image convey this? Does it say, “we are the best and we pay attention to detail…” or does it say “we are the cheapest in town and just throw things together at the last minute”? Does your image convey your professionalism and expertise? Or, does it say, “we don’t stand out, we are like everyone else, we are a commodity to be passed over”?

I run across small businesses on a daily basis, that give absolutely no regard or consideration to what their image is saying. You’ve seen them too…they threw together a font with some clip art ripped from the Internet and call it a logo. Their brochure is printed with an ink jet printer on cheap paper templates bought at Office Depot®. Their website has been thrown together in a night and has six different fonts and twelve different colors.

Essentially, what these businesses are saying with their image is, “We don’t care, we are cheap, we are amateurs, we are not as professional as we claim.” Is this truly what they want to convey? Probably not, but disregarding the importance of image is a recipe for misinterpretation of your small business.

Image can make you look like the best.

Think for a moment about Starbucks®. Its image is one of excellence and top quality in the world of coffee. Because of the image it has, we willingly pay $2, $3 and even $4 dollars for coffee when we could go down the street, somewhere else and pay much less for the same thing. But, Starbucks® image says, “we are worth the price, we are the best”. Starbucks® has added to the success of its business by developing a professional, successful and quality image.

Image can make you look cheap, even if you don’t want to look that way.

I recently spoke to an owner of a small venture capitalist firm. His business is small, but he works with very large companies to get them millions of dollars in financing. Yet when I reviewed his logo, I found it to be absolutely atrocious. He did it himself by throwing together a font and some clip art that came with Microsoft® Word. A three-year-old may as well have designed it, because it looked that elementary.

Why in the world would potential clients trust his firm to handle millions of dollars in venture funding for them when his image screamed, “we are cheap”?

Successful businesses know and understand the importance of image. If you spend the time, effort and money to develop a professional and successful image, your business will be seen as a professional and successful business. If you don’t take the time and just throw together your image, your business will be seen as thrown together and cheap.

A successful image will help you attract the types of clients you want to work with. You will convey that you are worth your price. You will convey you are the best in your industry. Additionally, you will give your prospects a sense that they would be crazy not to do business with you.

Your image is what everyone sees. It is what people think of your small business and is one of the most essential elements in a successful business.

Recognize its vital impact on your bottom line.

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