To remain competitive, many home-based businesses work hard to hide their "home-based" characteristics.
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Although presenting a professional image from home can be tricky, it can be done by utilizing your existing resources - including your phone - in a creative manner.
In a home-based business, your phone is your lifeline. It is your primary connection to the outside world. That also means your phone is the first (and possibly only) contact many clients will have with your company.
Maintain a professional phone demeanor and your clients will assume you are on par with the big boys even if you are really working in your pajamas.
Establish a Business Line
One of the most important things you can do to protect the image of your business is to establish a separate phone line for the business. In addition to its practical limitations, trying to run a home and a business on the same line can seriously undermine the effectiveness of your company.
Imagine what you might think if you called a business and the owner's 4-year old answered phone. That's exactly how your clients will feel unless you spring for a second, dedicated business line.
Answer professionally when clients call - even if you just rolled out of bed. Remember: Although you may be in your house, when the phone rings you leave home and enter the workplace.
Be friendly, but try to avoid chatty interchanges that can be construed as unprofessional. If the timing is bad, either politely ask the client if you can call them back or don't answer the call and let it go to the machine. The worst thing you can do is to answer a client call when dinner is burning and the kids are fighting in the background.
Keep the Answering Machine Message Current
You can use answering machines and answering services to project a professional image when you are away from the house or when you are unavailable for business. Instead of relying on a single, bland message, think about changing the message frequently, maybe even every day to communicate to potential clients that you are on top of the business and are interested in hearing from them.
If you will be out of the office for all or part of the day, include that information in the message so the client will know when they can expect a return call.
It's not uncommon for home-based business owners to leave the house throughout the day to take care of personal errands or to attend to business matters away from the home.
Setting your own hours is part of the convenience of working from home. The downside is that when you are gone, there is no one at home to take important business-related calls. Fortunately modern technology offers a solution in the form of call forwarding.
With the right call forwarding service, it's possible to forward your business line to a cell phone or any other number you choose, giving you the peace of mind you need when you are away from the home office.