Is it best to portray yourself as a long-established company, or an honest, straight-forward one man band?


Basically I'm in the situation where my freelance web design/development/marketing work is almost at the stage where I could consider devoting myself to it full-time and one thing I've always wondered is how to portray myself.

Would I do better to try and portray myself as a long-established business with at least a few employees to potential customers to try and enstow trust? Or is it better to be upfront/honest in being only one-man to begin with (without premises, even - not that that should matter).

I guess larger businesses would want to deal with a larger company for a number of reasons, but individuals or small businesses would be happier to deal with smaller companies [possibly so they're not paying for lush company cars and so on].

Hopefully my question makes sense. I'm leaning towards just portraying myself as a 'small agency' and perhaps highlighting the benefits of choosing someone with a setup such as my own could work better for them than some larger company that charges accordingly.

Best Practices

asked Jan 6 '12 at 06:26
557 points
  • you're asking if it's a good idea to lie to your customers or tell them the truth? That *should* be an easy answer: tell the truth. – Warren 11 years ago

2 Answers


There is an old saying

If you can't fix it, feature it

which is excellent advice. Nobody wants to be lied to, if they do find out there is an excellent chance that you'll lose their trust and business. Furthermore, they may tell others to not do business with you.

While it may seem like being a big, established company is a plus it is not always so. Sometimes being a small, responsive local person is exactly what is called for. Suppose you had an old HP laptop computer (not worth much) that needed a new hard drive that you wanted to give to a friend. Would you automatically send it back to HP to have the work done or would you perhaps let your neighbor's son do it in his basement if he would do it cheap?

Remember that there are pluses and minuses to everything. Being a client of a big company means:

  • Lots of people who could work on your project. Being just one of hundreds of customers, so easy to get lost in the mix.
Being a client of a small company means:

  • Just one person, but totally focused on your project (and could get hit by a bus). Highly committed to making the project successful because can't afford to fail.
answered Jan 6 '12 at 06:59
Jonny Boats
4,848 points


First, don't pretend bigger than you are. Customers will demand more and they will find out you're small. When they do find out you aren't as big as you claim to be, it will destroy your relationship with them (lying's never good).

Second, go for the customers who have no problem working with the small guy. It's good to be ambitious trying to bite off more than you can chew but the sharks who can actually chew all that will devour you, too, along the way. However, if you already have a decent collection of testimonies from the part-time days, feature them prominently as it will work to your benefit.

Third, acting like a small guy doesn't mean that you should be sloppy & unprofessional. Your credibility should still be your top priority.

answered Jan 6 '12 at 07:06
1,963 points

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Best Practices