As the owner of an online business, you should be aware that appearances can be deceptive. While your website may look professional and legitimate, your potential customers are going to be skeptical. From a consumer’s point of view, the online world can be a minefield of spoofed websites, phishing schemes, and scams.
However, you can make your online business appear more legitimate.
Get an Address and Phone Number
Even though you do all your business online, you should have listed a physical address and phone number on your website. You should keep your business and personal lives separate. You can add a separate line to your phone plan or purchase a prepaid phone.
For privacy and safety, don’t use your home address as your business address. However, using a P.O. box number won’t make your customers feel better about your legitimacy. Instead, use one of many services that provide street mailing addresses.
Register Your Business
Most states require you to register your business, though the process can differ from place to place. Some cities also require registration or licensing for all or certain businesses. You should also get a federal taxpayer ID number and a state ID, if applicable.
At the same time, protect your brand by trademarking your name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. You may also wish to legally form an LLC. (limited liability company). An LLC can give you more credibility when partnering with suppliers and clients.
Set Up a BBB Profile
The Better Business Bureau, or BBB, has been rating businesses and handling consumer complaints for half a century. It’s often the first place that people check to see if a business is legitimate. The BBB website lists the name of the business, owners, date established, and other information.
The BBB does charge for an accreditation review, and there is a monthly cost, but the expense can be worth it. A BBB accreditation can build trust with your customers. The nonprofit organization’s name is widely known, and placing its logo on your website can raise your credibility.
With time, your business brand will speak for itself. As you grow your customer base and continue to provide quality products and services, your consumers will rely on your reputation. But until then, you may need to reassure your customers that your online business is safe, secure, and legitimate.
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