4 Budget-Friendly Ways to Take Your Business from Hobby to Legit

When it comes to taxes, there are some pretty strict rules on what determines if your business is a hobby or not. The benefits of being a legitimate start-up go far beyond tax perks, however.  A well-run small business can offer a stable income, fulfillment, and the opportunity to change the world! 

One of the most effective ways to legitimize your work-from-home idea is to take it to the public with the most polished brand and messaging.  Here are four ways I recommend you take your business pro -- and all are possible on a budget!

1. Create an eye-catching website. Websites don't have to cost you thousands of dollars. In fact, sometimes a few well-placed design elements and a professionally-written description of what you offer can be enough to tell customers that you're ready to take on whatever they throw at you! If your business is in its infancy, a one-page offerings list and a simple contact form is enough to establish your professionalism and ensure you're classified as legitimate. A professionally-designed website from Deluxe can be as affordable as $99 per month; that's an investment that can help you to start making money!

2. Seriously consider your logo.  Speaking of design elements, a logo can really help communicate your talents and values. And before you think that a professionally-designed logo has to cost thousands of dollars, Deluxe can get their team of highly qualified designers creating the perfect logo for you -- starting at under $250! While you can create your own logo, a professionally-designed one really proves that you're taking your business pro. (Isn't that what we're going for?)

3. Dump the Free Email Servers. If you're still doing business from an email address that starts with "hotmomof4" and ends with a free server domain (like Yahoo or Gmail), consider upgrading to an email address with your name at the same domain as your website. Clients like Gmail actually make this pretty easy, and the cost is usually minimal. Not only will you look more polished when reaching out to clients, but your emails will be less likely to end up in spam folders. (Prefer a hands off approach? You can also let the professionals at Deluxe handle email set up when you have your website designed. It's less than $3 a month!)

4. Set up and Monitor Your Social Media Pages. You should immediately secure your brand's name on Twitter, G+, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest -- even if you don't plan on using all of them to market your business. Why? You don't want someone else snatching them up, do you? Since social media accounts and pages are free, creating a placeholder with simple branding (like that new logo you had designed), some basic info, and contact methods can help make your business seem legit, and it also helps with web searches, too! (Need help setting it up? Deluxe can do that, too!)

Just be sure to check your social accounts often, even if you don't use them, and monitor for any suspicious activity or customers who may be using them to reach out. Who knows? Next year may be the year you are big enough to hire a social media manager for all those platforms!

Do you think you're ready to take on the challenge of presenting a polished image to your customers?  What's the first step you'll take in this exciting journey?

*Thanks to Deluxe for partnering with us on these bright ideas for businesses. Be sure to check out all of their custom marketing products designed with the budget-friendly small business in mind!

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