In a one man startup, how do you communicate with clients and others? "We" or "Me"?


13

So currently, I am the founder of a startup company. It's only me unfortunately, and not sure if I should take on more partners or not at the moment.

My concern is that because I am the sole person at this company, clients might have some issues dealing with such a small company. If I was a client, I would not be pleased to learn a startup company product is a one man operation. I would expect at least 2 or 3.

I keep referring to "We" while talking about my company and products that I have developed. But is this correct when it's only "Me" in reality ?

Basically, I am pondering about how to present myself to clients in emails, phone, and mail etc. Do I tell them straight forward that I am the only person at this company? It'd be very awkward to first say this to a client.

Would incorporating my company first before beginning communication with clients and other entities help? I am considering getting a virtual office for incorporation.

Should I just list my family/friends as employee's of my company to give an image of size? Maybe now I am getting too crazy. There must be a solution or perhaps I am thinking this totally wrong approach.

Communication

asked Feb 2 '11 at 17:51
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Kim Jong Woo
644 points

7 Answers


11

I would be honest if people ask you directly (which in my experience, bigger clients WILL want to know how big you are, if you have funding, etc). That said, I wouldn't volunteer the information, either. Don't make an issue out of something if the other side doesn't seem to care about it.

In marketing material, on your website, etc though I would use "we" instead of "me" or "I". You're speaking as the company not as yourself personally even if you're the only one involved. I don't think that's deceptive - and it would be a pain to go back and edit all of that once you do have another person involved.

answered Feb 3 '11 at 01:58
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Ryan Elkins I Actionable
894 points
  • I like this answer the best. We makes sense. If they ask, well I will tell them I am just "Me". No need to make this a big issue to the client from the beginning. – Kim Jong Woo 8 years ago
  • Well honestly it's a "we" thing if you've used any contractors or have any support from your significant other IMO. I always said "we," but I had a support system of people I worked with if I needed help. That said, now that "we" really is "we" (5 of us), larger clients are asking "where's your office?" and other questions, basically feeling out if we're legit/fly by night or not. Perception, for larger clients, is everything. – Sean 8 years ago
  • btw how do you respond to questions like, "how many employees do you have in your office and where is your office, I wanna see it on google map." – Kim Jong Woo 8 years ago
  • I just tell them the truth if they ask directly. I actually do have an office, though. If not I'd probably just tell them we are still working out of my house or wherever I happen to be working from. The point isn't to deceive, it's to not volunteer information that isn't asked for. – Ryan Elkins I Actionable 8 years ago

9

Be honest about your company. I would rate honesty and transparency higher than size. Of course you don't need to mention size at all unless it comes up. If you are professional and offering a good service, customers will probably not have a problem.

Jason Cohen has written a great post on this here called "You're a little company, now act like one."

answered Feb 2 '11 at 19:42
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Susan Jones
4,128 points
  • I wish I had read that post. That post sums everything up nicely for me. – Kim Jong Woo 8 years ago
  • Great post isn't it! In fact pretty much all Jason's stuff is worth reading. – Susan Jones 8 years ago

2

I currently operate a company which I am the only person however I use "We" as I tend to use 3rd party vendors in a lot of my projects. I have never had anyone question it. When consulting clients I typically need to engage others in some of my projects (ie: contractors, wiring guys, lenders, movers, etc....) in which I am essentially managing the entire process. They are vendors however are an extension of me so I consider them my team.........thus....."We"

answered Feb 3 '11 at 02:27
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Nathan Smith
166 points

1

In the past I have used both. Never to try to deceive people - but because 'I' is so jarring and doesn't look good on website copy or in emails. I was honest about the size of the company and clear about who we/I was/were.

Use 'we' when it reads and flows better. Use I when appropriate.

answered Feb 3 '11 at 02:08
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Tim J
8,346 points

0

We can also mean you + client :)

That creates a better bond.

answered Feb 3 '11 at 02:46
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Yetanothercoder
101 points

0

I'd suggest you look at the products and market your selling to determine if size matters. If your doing B2B with large companies then size might matter because they want to have the impression that your going to be around.

However in most cases the story of a single person getting things done, working hard and having a valuable product is compelling. The average customer can relate to you as a steller individual that cares about them. They know you are behind your work and that when they communicate with you its not some entity its the guy that does it all.

So rarely does it make sense to try to fake out the customer with creative ways to inflate your size. Instead I suggest let them know where the "buck" stops and your the real person behind it all.

So I'd test some personal communications first with your customers and see how they react. I think you'll be hapily surprised that the more authentic you are with the customer the more the customer responds positively to the authentic business.

answered Feb 3 '11 at 03:49
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John Bogrand
2,210 points

0

This was something I thought of a lot. Well, not too much. I say "we" even though I'm a one-man startup.

However, in the about section, I actually acknowledge the "we/me" issue. I completely state that I sometimes use "we" when it's only "me".

I don't think my users mind because I'm open about it.

answered Feb 4 '11 at 02:11
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Cbmeeks
135 points

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