I'm having a dispute with someone who has a commerce website, they want to maintain a professional image and prefer not to reveal to [potential] customers that they are in fact an entrepreneur working from home.
Do you think it would potentially harm customers trust if they thought you were going it alone, would they prefer to be dealing with what they may perceive to be a business with more than one employer?
My thoughts were that it probably wouldn't make any difference? Or would it?
The company I work for just split because of this question.
The main question was that: Do we present ourself as a huge, corporate entity, or a small little quaint shoppe that loves what we do? I ended up sticking with the part of the company that is more "quaint."
We've only got a few people on our team, but we believe that our service is valuable for anyone -- small, large, or individual. Multi-billion dollar companies or non-profits. Even though we're small, all these ranges of organizations use our service.
I can tell you right now that I am happier at work since we don't pretend to be something we aren't. That can, I think, violate their trust. We feel more honest with our customers now. It's easier to develop a personal relationship with them. You'll find that even the big companies don't mind working with the little ones when you have what they need, and the little guys or individuals feel comfortable with the idea. (Of course, it's easier to interface with a small team than it is with a corporate entity.)
If you truly provide value and support to your customers, and you let them know that on your website (or whatever it is), you'll do well. For example, Balsamiq is a small team, but they made millions their first few years. There are thousands of freelancer websites where they put themselves out there as one-man-bands but do quite well (bonus example here )
Present yourself well, and you will do well. And I think you'll be happier not pretending to be something you aren't.
Anyone who requires vendors that have a large/professional company will have demands that you won't be able to handle. If you're so big, why don't you have support during off-hours? I emailed/spoke to you on the phone during the sales process and now you handle billing and support? Where is everyone else.
That's just the beginning. Once they find out you lied, you'll be lucky if they just don't dump you. Members of a niche market can bombard the blogosphere with so enough negative press to drive you out of business.