Should You Make Your Business Appear Bigger Than it Really Is?

by Christine Kane

As a solo-business owner, you've got it made.

There's no boss to answer to.

Cubicles are a thing of the past.

HR doesn't hound you for a lost security code.

And you're probably reading this in a t-shirt and jeans. (Okay, you're in your pajamas. I was going to ignore that part.) Either way - it's just you. It's just your home office. And your cat who occasionally plants his butt on your keyboard while you're typing.

In other words - to the outside viewer - it's not a particularly impressive or slick operation. So it's natural to wonder if you should make your business appear larger (more slick, more impressive, more corporate) than it really is.

Well, it depends.

It depends on your client - who they are and what they want. It depends on what you offer and what your clients love most about you. It depends on what you want for yourself and the growth of your business.

With that said, let's address the common questions people ask when it comes to making their business look bigger than it really is...

Question #1 -Should I answer my own phone?

If you ask me, this is NOT an issue of "bigger" or "slicker."

This is an issue of professionalism and boundaries.

I encourage my clients (yes, even in start-up!) not to answer their own phones. Instead, set up a voicemail system so that you return calls at a set time each day. When you answer your own phone, you consistently get interrupted all day long. Not good.

If you have a Virtual Assistant, you can direct incoming calls to her number. However, I believe it's good to have a number that will be yours for years to come. Your VA might not be around next month - but your business will. Get a number that can stay with you as you grow. Your VA can call in and retrieve messages for you.

Lastly, when you have a scheduled client appointment, then yes, answer your own phone.

Question #2 -Should I get an 800# for my business line?

Completely up to you.

When I was in the music business, getting an 800 number was a game-changer.  It Upleveled the professional image of my offices. It made music promoters more willing to call me back. It positioned me as a serious entertainer in the biz.  So, I’ve always had one.  They’re easy to get. And fairly inexpensive these days.

The advantage of a toll-free number is that it’ll go with you no matter where you go.  (Of course, the internet is making this true of local numbers as well.)

Now that everyone has free-minutes on cell phones, I don’t think it’s as big of a deal.  But there’s still that subconscious public perception that toll-free numbers imply a bigger business.

Question #3 – Should I refer to myself as “We” instead of “I” ?
This is where many solo-business owners miss the boat.

As mentioned above, a lot depends on what your client loves most about you.   If your client hires you because of the connection they have with you, or if you are the brand behind your company, then use “I.”  Don’t be afraid to be transparent here. That’s probably what they love about you!

More than ever, people are seeking relationship and connection.  Trying to adopt corporate-speak by referring to your business as “we” can sometimes have a negative effect. It will feel incongruent to your prospects and clients.

Again, you have to be the one to assess this.  But remember that people buy from people, not from companies. So, use “we” with caution if your company is still just you.

Question #4 – Should I get a real office?

My company – Uplevel YOU – has grown so fast in three years that I purchased a 3000 square foot downtown office space.  I did this because I work better with my team in person, rather than virtually.  Plus, I have several high-level clients who come for full-day private sessions.  It made sense to move my business into a centralized location.

However, this is not the best choice for everyone!  Consider these questions.  Do you like working from your home?  Do you work well with a virtual team?  Do you do most of your client work on the phone?  If you answered yes, then celebrate! Working from a home office eliminates overhead costs and long commutes.  Lucky you!

These days it’s common for successful entrepreneurs not to have an office, to work from cafes, and to gather in random meeting rooms.   The pressure to have an office is often just outdated thinking.


You might want to consider whether you are trying to appear bigger – or if you just need to be more strategic about your positioning and credibility, which is really more about your marketing and content.  Don’t waste your time on appearing bigger. Instead, just keep delivering high value and content to your clients – and believe me, they won’t care if you sometimes have to pull cat hair off your laptop keyboard!

If you look below, you’ll see a place to leave a comment or question…

Fire away if you have a question on this topic.  OR share a secret you’ve used to make your business appear bigger.  Or let me know if you think this is a total non-issue for you!

Christine Kane is the Mentor to People Who are Changing the World. She helps women and men Uplevel their lives, their businesses and their success. Her weekly Uplevel You eZine goes out to over 20,000 subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can sign up for a F.R.E.E. subscription at


Matt said...

I remember having multiple I vs WE discussions with some business owner friends of mine. We came up with pros and cons for both approaches.

Ultimately, it came down to the same kind of conclusion you made - how personal do you want to approach your users? In a new era of businesses achieving personal interaction, is that something your business needs and could benefit from?

Deb Bailey said...

Hi Matt,
I agree. There are different reasons for wanting to appear larger, or for being more personal (and less removed). Often small business owners think they have to appear to have larger businesses so that they can be taken seriously. But perhaps we're getting to a point where that won't be necessary. Thanks for your comments!

head_exposed said...

I completely agree with you, Deb. making your business look big depends on you but you should be ready when the being bigger than you really are would have to present itself to the client. Perhaps when the time comes that a formal meeting would be required, those pajamas would have to be put aside first. Great article!

Deb Bailey said...

Good point! But I guess it's not too bad if you have to put on the corporate attire once in a while. :) Thanks for your comments!

Anonymous said...

Wow Deb, excellent tips!

Deb Bailey said...

Glad you liked them! Thanks for your comments!

Amy said...

Excellent tips and I learned so much of this the hard way. I set up voice mail to avoid interruptions and realized it did make my business look bigger. I also felt a designated office was essential to get real work done.

Deb Bailey said...

Hi Amy, That's a great idea about having a designated office. I agree that it helps to have a place dedicated to working. Especially if you work at home, it is much too easy to be distracted. Thanks for your comments!

Joan said...

There are alternatives to actually getting an office that can still give the impression of an expanding business. Virtual offices are a pretty cost effective way to do this and the more prestigious address can be used on business cards/docs etc. Like you said, I think the issue of being a large business is second to appearing professional.

Deb Bailey said...

Hi Joan,

That's very true. Having a professional appearance is really the most important point for the business owner. Thanks for your comments!

Back to Top