How Your New Business Can Build Legitimacy

Tom Dempster

Tom Dempster

When you start a new business, you’re at an immediate disadvantage to your competition – they have more name recognition and are likely to be more trusted than your brand new venture.

In this article, we’ll outline a few ways your business can build that much-needed legitimacy.

In recent months, we’ve been working with a number of startups and small businesses taking their first steps in the digital world. The founders behind these businesses all have two things in common – a passion for their product or service, and a desire to bring about change and transformation in their respective niches. 

Starting a business is a daunting prospect. It takes a lot to turn your vision into something tangible. With so many things to think about, it can be tempting to overlook some of the finer details of your branding and marketing. For example, we have had several conversations with innovators who think they can build their business entirely on social media, or think that their website is an afterthought which can be left to die, neglected in the wilderness.

Whilst every business is different, we believe that every new business should follow a few important steps to set themselves up for success. There are exceptions to these rules, naturally – there’s no doubt that a select few can simply harness a TikTok following and build a successful business on the back of it. However, there is a lot to be said for playing the probabilities – particularly when almost half of new small businesses don’t survive for longer than five years. We believe following the guidelines in this article will give you a better chance of achieving long-term, sustainable success.

Step 1: Register your domain name and build a website

“Do I even need a website?”

You would be surprised how frequently that question arises in conversations when we speak to new business owners about digital marketing. There is a school of thought that social media can do all the heavy lifting for you. Why would you go to the trouble of paying for a website when you can register on social media channels for free? Why put all the effort into designing (or paying for) a website when you can spend a few minutes posting on Facebook or Instagram?

Well, think of it this way for a moment.

Relying exclusively on social media channels like Instagram or Facebook to get your business off the ground is like renting a tiny booth at a congested shopping mall. You’re limited by the constraints of the platform (or the owners of the mall). You’re fighting for attention with your competition. It’s a crowded space, with little opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

A professionally designed website which appears at the top of search engine results is different. Compared to the cramped booth at the mall, it’s like owning a sizeable store in an attractive, vibrant location. There is plenty of space. There is room to expand. Most importantly, you own it. Your potential customers can distinguish you from your competition. You stand on your own two feet – you are not at the behest of anyone else’s rules. You can do what you want with your space.

So, back to the original question – do you need a website? If you want to be in control of your own destiny and stand out from the crowd, then yes, you do. Putting the time, effort or dollars into a strong website for your brand has proven – time and time again – to generate trust and brand authority in an online environment (especially if you follow best SEO practices for small businesses). In addition, you’ll give yourself a hub with which to arrange and showcase your product/service for your potential customers, laid out exactly as you want it. 

busy shopping mall with lots of people

Step 2: Use your domain name for your contact email address

This is a very small addendum to the first point. It may seem trivial, but it stands out like a sore thumb every time we see it – and it eradicates trust in your brand. As a startup, you have to give yourself every advantage in the book.

Even with the advent of instant messaging and social media, traditional channels like email are still a preferred method of contact for many people. If you have an @gmail.com or an @outlook.com email address listed on your website, it could lead people to draw a few conclusions. For example, using a free email address could make you appear untrustworthy, cheap, unprofessional, and it also means you lose out on valuable brand authority from using your brand name in customer communication. 

If you have a domain name, and have a live website, then please make sure you use your domain name in the email address you list on your site. Linking your brand’s domain to an email provider is a relatively straightforward process. It will be worth ten minutes of your time to take care of it.

Step 3: Create a Google My Business profile

For small businesses focused on local search, Google My Business (GMB) is a valuable resource to appear in front of local customers.

Creating a GMB profile takes a matter of minutes, and keeping it updated isn’t particularly time-consuming either. Through your GMB profile, you can provide additional information on your services, post photos of your business, and receive messages from potential customers. 

Perhaps most importantly, it offers your customers the opportunity to leave a review of their experience with you – and a healthy number of positive reviews can have reputational and local search benefits for your business. Even negative reviews can be turned into positives if handled correctly, as they will demonstrate professionalism and honesty.

example of google my business search
Above: An example of businesses appearing in a Google search in the Local Pack. The respective results link to their GMB profiles.

Step 4: Find time to write compelling blog content

These days, many users on the Internet are familiar with direct advertising, and have been conditioned to scroll straight past it. This is where the beauty of content marketing lies – and it can help position your brand as a thought leader in your space.

As a new business, you have to find a way to establish yourself. Your brand has to find its voice. What better way to do this than through a well-written series of blog posts? By taking the time to craft informative blog content, you can provide your visitors with useful information. It also gives you the opportunity to inject some personality into your business, enabling you to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Also: Don’t forget offline ways to build your brand

The offline and online worlds do not exist in isolation. Of course, there are some things which are easier to do online than offline, and vice versa – but the two are inextricably linked. 

When you’re just starting out, think about how you can increase your visibility and direct people towards your website. That’s where they will be able to get a true feel, not only for your product/service, but for your business and what it represents. This isn’t just online – there are several offline ways to build legitimacy, too. Consider the following:

In conclusion

Building a successful business from scratch takes commitment, hard work and – to some extent – luck.

But to give yourself the best chance of success, following the steps in this article can give your business a solid foundation on which to build in the months and years to come.

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We strive to help small and medium-size businesses achieve their goals through a combination of digital strategy, brand optimization and high-quality content.

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