Trust is the fundamental building block for present and future customer relations for any business, large or small. All your marketing materials should inspire trust in your business – especially if the service or goods you’re providing carry an element of risk.
One way of doing this is to make sure that every public aspect of your business shows total professionalism. Sure you can run your business from your living room – as long as you don’t advertise that fact by inviting any potential clients over for business meetings. But some things can’t, and shouldn’t be hidden – your phone number and email address (unless you don’t want to give your customers the option to contact you in this manner.)
Your phone number is a relatively simple thing to deal with. As long as you make sure that your phone is answered in a professional manner during business hours, nobody will know if you’re sitting in a prestigious corner office or at your kitchen table as you talk to them. Just keep any children or pets out of range.
Your email address, however, is a different matter. It’s astonishing to see how many small businesses try to save money by going with a free email account with aol, hotmail or similar. To me, nothing shouts ‘unprofessional’ more than such an email address, and considering how cheap it is to register a domain name with a registrar that also gives you an email account, going with a freebie is taking thrift too far. Even a single lost client will cost you far more that you need to pay for a domain name – and I promise you that an unprofessional email address will lose you far more than just one client.
So, if you’re taking the running of your own business seriously, and want others to see you as a professional, get yourself a professional email address. It’ll be a lot cheaper than a free one.