The Business of Not Being Seen as a Small Business
Lately, I’ve heard this statement quite a bit from prospective clients, “I’m a small company.” I’ve heard it so often that I started to seriously think about what it could mean to so many entrepreneurs out there, and especially what it could mean to the clients and companies they interact with.
Originally, I used that exact same word on my new website when I first wrote the page about my studio. I was practically proud of it. Bill Westwood, a longtime member of the Association of Medical Illustrators, pointed this critical issue out to me at one of our annual conferences. I was thrilled that he took the time to read through several pages of my website, and he had some interesting feedback after his review. I’ll share some of his little gems with you, in hopes that many of you who also freelance realize the big impact that this little word can have.
“Do not ever, ever, ever call yourself small.”
If you envision yourself as small, you will be lost in a sea of competitors, just another tiny blip out there in cyberspace, faintly blinking in a vast ocean and lost from view. While for some things, being small is advantageous (can you imagine a hummingbird the size of an eagle?), for a business it can be costly.
Instead of proclaiming yourself as small, you should be focusing on the positive aspects of being who you are. Think of all the things that make you stand out from your competition – are you highly creative? Are your illustrations accurate? Are you able to meet your clients’ deadlines? Are you attentive to your clients’ needs? What do you bring to the table that no one else can? Those are the things that you need to capitalize on. The size of your company is irrelevant if you truly want to compete in this world and be successful.
“Don’t use the fact that you are a small business as a crutch, embrace it for what it is worth.”
In order for you to be noticed, you need to shed the mental image that your company is “just you”. While it may very well be just you, think of what that means to a client. You are that special touch that large corporations do not have. When a client comes to you with a problem or a project, they are dealing directly with you, the owner. You can’t get any more personal and professional service or attention than that. There is no middleman in a working relationship with your studio. While good things do come in small packages, it is important to embrace what is in that package, invest in it, focus on it, showcase it in everything you do.
It took me a few years for those words to ring true in my mind, and they have been getting louder and more insistent this year. As such, I take every opportunity to bolster other entrepreneurs out there to do what they love, let their passion show in what they do, and the work will follow. I use many other words to describe Inky Mouse Studios these days, from unique to independent, professional to personal and creative to imaginative. But I will avoid, at all costs, ever calling myself small again. I prefer to appear as professional as I possibly can make myself. This bolsters a sense of confidence in me, which in turn instills my clients with confidence in my ability to perform the projects they approach me with, no matter the size, the type, or the budget. I let all the positive aspects of my business speak for themselves.