by: Geoff Ficke

5 Tips for Small Businesses and Start-ups to Use
To Appear Bigger than They Really Are

For many years I have worked almost exclusively with entrepreneurs, inventors and small businesses seeking to start, or grow a business against daunting odds and competitive disadvantages. We specialize in Consumer Products, packaged goods that are marketed in every category and sales channel. Despite the deck seemingly being so stacked against these micro-enterprises it is amazing how many succeed.

One of the lessons we counsel and preach is the importance of acting and presenting the business to consumers and merchants as being more solid and substantial than it in reality is. No one wants to do business with a firm that appears to be struggling. People smell weakness. They are attracted to success.

One of our goals for clients is to be able to meet key decision makers in a specific category and open doors that seem closed to most fledgling start-ups. In order to achieve this we must have the client act like the puffer fish and blow themselves up to appear bigger and stronger than they are. How can this be accomplished?

The edifice that is presented as the core of the business can be inflated with creativity and a bit of illusion. It is essential that entrepreneur’s utilize every tool available to level the playing field as much as possible. Here are 5 ways to embellish the appearance of strength for of a start-up.

1. Have a professional, original, customized Branding Strategy. Colors, icons, lyrical Branding Statements and graphics that work as one are crucial in differentiating the Company and its products and services from competitors, large and small.
2. Your place of business and mailing address speak volumes about your firm and product. Most start-ups cannot afford an office in Beverly Hills, or London. They can rent a mail box service in a prestigious zip code. For meetings, there are impressive offices with secretarial services that can be secured by the hour or half-day.
3. Put some effort and diligence into building and editing your web-site. The only thing worse than not having a web-site is having a mass market template that screams “unprofessional”. Currently, there are an endless number of do-it-yourself templates available to guide construction of a web-site. The construction is not as important as the content. Do not take shortcuts on content.
4. Sales collateral stays with the prospective buyer, consumer or merchant long after you physically vacate the premises. Make your brochures, business cards and samples first class.
5. Use production quality prototypes to pre-sell your product at trade shows, fairs and to investors. We typically pre-sell every project we are engaged to manage for our clients. We do not want them investing in building inventory until we have secured orders, letters of intent and confirmation from key industry decision makers that the product on offer is desirable and commercial. Production quality prototypes are the key to gaining this crucial proof of product life.

We have utilized this simple menu to enhance any number of start-up businesses that we have introduced as Managing Consultants. It works for every category of Consumer Product including Toys, Gourmet Foods, Cosmetics, Fragrance, Aromatherapy, Hardware, Pet Products, DIY, Jewelry and many more. These are tools that are invaluable when bootstrapping an under-funded business, product or service.

Author's Bio: 

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, ( has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.