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5 tips to keep your startup looking professional on a budget

Startup office

A business’s professional appearance is directly related to the degree of competence, trustworthiness and available resources they exude to clients and potential leads alike.

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If someone were to consider using a business’s services, only to walk into their office and find its clutter reminiscent of a pigsty, they are very unlikely to trust that business with anything at all, much less their financial interests.

As a result, the professional appearance of any business is extremely important, whether it’s a startup or multi-million dollar company. Unfortunately, maintaining a professional-looking office is often perceived as costly, which is something that cash-strapped startups often can’t deal with.

Nevertheless, here are several tips that can keep your startup’s office and web presence looking professional, even while on a budget:

Use colorful murals from local artists

Dull office space walls can give off some uninspiring vibes. Instead, a cost-effective and colorful solution is murals painted by a local artist.

For a relatively small amount of money, a business can employ a local artist to inject personality into a room via a colorful and niche-relevant mural. Abstract art also makes for an inspiring design, since it typically has a lot of color.

If you’re really strapped for cash, you could even consider bringing in a high school or college student with artistic talent to create a mural for you. These artists will often work for free, and you’re allowing them to put their work on your walls will make a great resume booster for them.

Feature your company’s logo throughout the office

There are several ways to reinforce your business’ credibility by featuring its logo around the office. Some ideas for this include a wooden desk sign, window logo and branded pencils — all of which can be purchased inexpensively on Etsy or similar DIY sites. Reinforcing your business logo in colorful and creative ways throughout your office will have a memorable effect on visitors.

Opt for a WordPress site

WordPress can be used as a platform for any type of site, from a music fan page to a professional corporate site. What’s more, you can choose if you want to have a free WordPress site, or pay to buy your own domain.

Free sites are ideal for startups because they obviously cost nothing. However, your ability to make a free WordPress site look professional can be somewhat limited, since you need to pay for your own domain in order to access full customisation of your site.

While it’s obviously more costly than a free site, paying for your own WordPress site is still relatively inexpensive. Depending on the kind of space and support you want for your site, you’re only paying between US$99 and US$299 per year. It’s really a quite manageable expense when you consider the additional Google analytics data and customisation options you get with a paid site.

Furthermore, WordPress theme sites like ThemeForest have a wide assortment of professional-looking business themes that can be purchased for $50 or less. All WordPress domain owners have to do is upload the theme’s .zip file via WordPress’s admin panel, and the theme is theirs to play around with. This method saves hundreds or even thousands of dollars when compared to hiring a web development team, with results that have the potential to be just as successful.

Consider Rentable/Mobile Furniture & DIY Pieces

Mobile furniture is easy to move, which makes it a common sight in stores that rent out furniture. With that in mind, startups should not be reluctant to rent furniture if it makes for a temporary visual improvement. Even if a snazzy rented chair or desk does not become a permanent fixture, if you think it will appeal to the clients who will be coming into your office, it could very well be worth looking into.

Similarly, always keep an eye out at garage sales and reach out to any friends or co-workers who have expressed a previous interest in woodworking. They may be able to help you out, and with the popularity of DIY furniture and its eco-friendly, sustainable nature, many clients will respect your decision to upcycle various materials.

Design a Warm and Inviting Lobby

Your office space’s lobby or reception area is what gives the first impression to visitors. As a result, you should make the area as warm and inviting as possible.

Go for some soft-lit lamps, free-standing furniture with a comforting appearance, and inviting artwork on the walls. Don’t forget to include small, detailed accents like metallics or potted plants.

Even on a budget, startups are very capable of maintaining a professional-looking office space that appeals to anyone who walks in the door. The five tips above are good places to get started.

Image: Heisenberg Media

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