You don't have to be a scientist to avoid these unprofessional mistakes.

You don’t have to be a scientist to avoid these unprofessional mistakes.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. It’s true in life, it’s (mostly) true in business and it’s true on the internet.

As a small business owner, you can’t afford to make the mistakes that might drive away potential customers. Even if you maintain your web presence and social media challenges yourself, you have to make the look as slick and professional as if you had farmed them out to an expensive firm. The best way to do that is to avoid these classic blunders:

Typos. We know, everyone is human and typos happen. Consistent typos and poor grammar will turn off even the most interested of customers, however. Albert Einstein once said: “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted in important affairs.” An independent newspaper publisher put it this way: “If they don’t trust you with the little things, they won’t trust you with the big things.” We’ll put it like this: if they don’t trust you with to spell things right, they won’t trust you with their money.

Using a personal email address. Nothing spells ‘unprofessional’ like using a gmail address or some other free email service. It also reduces your chance of having any emails read, since most people will not open anything that looks vaguely suspicious. And business email from a personal address is all that and more.

Silence. If you get any kind of review, you should respond to it. If it’s positive, thank the reviewer and tell them you hope they visit your shop again. If it’s negative, apologize for the situation, offer to contact them offline and resolve the issue. Leaving comments out there unanswered builds an impression that you’re not listening, you don’t care, you’re not paying attention and you are not a professional.

Inaccuracies. Errors in fact are not the same as typographical errors. When you list something inaccurately, you look lazy and unprofessional. Make sure the information you provide on your web site is accurate and, if you provide a place for local listings or events, make sure you get the right, as well. The last thing anyone needs in this day and age is someone accusing you of ‘fake news.’

Bad pictures. With the evolution of cell phone technology, it’s pretty difficult to take a bad picture. Difficult, but not impossible. People still do it, and there are plenty of examples. Think of it like you’re going through old family albums, wondering which pictures to save and which to pitch. Do the pictures add anything to content? Can people tell what’s going on? Are they in focus? Generally, you want to take pictures with the light source behind you to ensure your subject isn’t in shadow. If you’re taking pictures of staff, get close—head, shoulders, maybe part of the chest. If you want a picture of staff in front of your sign or shop, make sure to put enough distance between them that you can read the sign and see the faces.

Not being mobile. More than 75 percent of web surfers use their cell phones or tablets to access the Internet. Make sure your web site is optimized for mobile users. If not, you’ll frustrate them and lose their business.

Those are some of the most glaring mistakes we can think of. Can you add any more? Let us know in the comments!