establishing-credibility

If you’re pretty new to your business, it can be a bit daunting dealing with the credibility issue. How can you gain traction when everyone can clearly see you’re just starting out?

So many people freeze when they encounter this situation – to the point where they can literally be in business for a year or two, but still feel like they have the credibility of someone who just launched their website yesterday.

No need to worry – we can fix that fast. There are a ton of options to build that credibility you’re looking for from the very beginning, without doing anything deceptive or dishonest.

Let’s talk about those options now.

1. Create a small, visible body of work.

Many ittybiz owners are afraid to put themselves out there, and they just dip a toe in the water of creating things like content and assets until they feel like they’re more established.

If you do this, you’ll just hinder your own progress. Instead, create a small but visible body of work. This can take many forms:

  • A collection of well-thought out content pieces that are designed to be a “series” of posts. (More than one collection is great, too.)
  • A small book or workbook, ideally on the topic of what you want to be known for the most
  • A good-sized audio or video that demonstrates your expertise

Each of these things can be put together relatively quickly, especially if you’re using The 1-Hour Content Plan or Product In A Weekend (both available in the Karma Store at pay-what-you-want pricing).

Your potential customers, clients and audience members need to form a strong impression of who you are and what your level of expertise is. Creating this body of work – even if it’s small – helps make that happen.

(This is why those in the public speaking circuit are so keen to get a book written – maybe nobody reads it, but everyone SEES that it exists, and that’s a huge credibility booster.)

2. Go minimalist with your design.

You don’t have to have the fanciest of websites or blog themes to establish credibility – and given the easy availability of complicated, impressive looking designs, they don’t truly mean anything on that front. Anyone with $50 or more in their pocket can buy a theme that looks like it cost a mint.

Here’s where less is more. Pare back design elements and choose a theme that is uncomplicated but clean, and you’ll enjoy the branding benefits of the minimalist approach. You know and I know that the more expensive a brand is, the less complicated their designs and layouts are.

The act of minimalist visual branding sends a statement of strength – that you don’t have to be showy to display what’s important and what’s of value. Typically, brands move this way only after they’ve been well established, so if you do this off the hop, you’ll give the impression of being a more mature business.

(And even if your business is new, YOU are not. So you’re really drawing attention to where you are as a person, not your business. Part of true credibility is not having to be showy in order to display high value.)

3. Speak in the third person.

This one’s easy – instead of using the word “I” everywhere on your website and outgoing communications, speak in the third person. Let your About Page, Home Page, and Services page copy talk about you with a wall of separation, rather than speaking personally.

If you’re a personal brand (aka, a human) rather than a separate company, this will probably feel awkward and weird. If that’s the case for you, go look at a few websites from established people you know – like authors, performers, or big-name bloggers. You’ll see how they do it, and you can use those as examples for your own copy.

This even applies to newsletters and emails – even if you open with a personal note, you can always put things farther down as section headers like “Work With Marissa” or “Get in touch with Derek”. Again, if that feels awkward, sign up for a few email lists from the types of people mentioned above. You’ll get the concept pretty fast.

(Oh, and you’ll want to do this in your navigation bar, too. “Work With Me” becomes “Work With Tamara”, and so on.)

4. Highlight what you HAVE done.

Even if you’re technically new to the business – or you’re not that new, but you haven’t secured many clients or customers yet – talk about what you HAVE done. Don’t wait until you have two dozen notches on your belt.

If you’ve only worked with 3 clients, create content that talks about how you solved problems for those clients. Then you have 3 case studies, and no one has to know those are the only clients you’ve had. Instead, you’re just demonstrating your expertise.

The same goes for products. If you only have a few customers, talk about what they’ve done with your products, and the experiences they’ve had, and you’ll get the same effect.

You can also do this on yourself. If you use your products (or the information contained within), you can talk about that. If you provide a service that you also do for yourself (like a personal trainer who follows his own workout plan), you can talk about that, too. You can establish a lot of credibility by demonstrating your products and services in action… with YOU.

5. Name things.

As a company grows – even if it’s an ittybiz of one – there’s a micro-culture that develops within it. Certain terms evolve, you coin phrases, you come up with things that need names.

Apple’s front-facing employees work at the Genius Bar. Starbucks doesn’t have coffee-making-people, they have baristas. Author Gretchen Rubin started her Happiness Project.

When you put names to things, they become more real, more tangible, more established. Just by virtue of having a name. And that name lends weight and credibility.

IttyBiz has the Karma Store, not “the store”. We have a collection of free resources called The IttyBiz Freebie Vault. When IttyBiz started in 2006, the customer service people were called the IttyBiz Ninjas.

You can do that, too. Name your stuff. Come up with your own words to describe concepts and philosophies and processes, too. The more you do this, the more you will demonstrate that there’s more “there” there.

6. Get an assistant to handle your email and scheduling.

I’m guessing your doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc. don’t answer their own phone or their own email. The same may apply to your hair stylist, too – we’re not talking “big” business here.

Once someone has grown to a certain point, they get an assistant or an employee to handle all the administrative aspects of their business.

That goes for you, too. You can’t get bigger all by yourself. If you were a lawyer answering your own phone, it would be weird for the client. Ditto your customers.

Get an assistant – or even a part-time VA. It makes a huge difference in how you’re perceived, and more importantly, it makes a big difference in how YOU approach your business. If you want to be honestly credible as a business, then you’ve got to step up and act like the owner, not the employee.

Two resources to get you started:

7. Build a tradition.

If you do something repeatedly, whatever it is takes on an air of establishment and solidity. The longer it exists, the more weight it develops. (That’s one reason so many companies have something like “Est. 1962” near their logo.)

If you want to establish credibility faster, pick something you can do repeatedly, and you will demonstrate how committed you are to continuing in the long term.

This could take any form you want. You could run a webinar every quarter. You could hold a weekly chat online. You could release a monthly audio or worksheet or something similar.

It doesn’t matter what you do – as long as you have some thread to tie it all together, and you give it a name, you’re all set. Do it regularly, and brand-new people will see how long you’ve been doing it. Your existing audience will get repeated exposure to the thing you do. You gain credibility on all sides.

Even if you’re new to your business, you don’t have to look like a rookie.

You have so many options to maximize credibility in the eyes of your customers, clients, and general audience.

If you’re struggling with establishing the credibility you want, these are 7 ways to get that growing in a hurry. Pick one to start with – or do them all – and your credibility will grow accordingly.

Thanks for reading! Here’s what you can do next: