In amongst the chaos of getting a startup off the ground, most of your focus will undoubtedly go into writing a business plan. However, a common mistake of novice entrepreneurs is to think that's it - and fail to develop a company profile alongside it.
A company profile is an explanation of what your business does, how it is structured, and what you have achieved, and should be given prominence on your company website. It can also be used as a reference tool that you can link to in official documents, such as press releases. This way, anyone unfamiliar with your company can gain a quick understanding of what you do.
However, a company profile is not just a calling card for the products or services that you provide. It is also a reflection of your corporate culture, and everything from the language you use to the formatting you select can help shape the way that customers, competitors and investors see you.
For businesses that are just getting started, it is also a way to help you think about how you want to shape your business and what sort of mark you hope to make in your industry. Therefore, even new companies should prioritise their company profile; it helps you - and everybody else - understand what kind of company you are beginning to build.
So, how do you go about creating one?
How to Write a Company Profile
Before you start to craft the story of your company, you should take some time to gather your thoughts and decide on how you want to present it. Generate some ideas around what makes your business unique, and consider what sort of stylistic choices you can make that will reflect this.
Also, give some thought to how and where your customers will see it. If you are presenting it as a website, for instance, there are different layout possibilities than if you distribute it through email.
Here are some specific points that you should consider as you work through the process:
1. Settle on a Format
There isn't one "right" way to present a company profile. While most profiles tend to limit their length to a few pages, some can run to over 30 pages. You can also choose to include images, graphs or links, particularly if you are composing your profile in the form of a website.
Think about whom you are trying to reach, too, and how they will best be persuaded to engage with your company. If your organisation is an accounting firm, for example, a straightforward, text-heavy account of what your company does and why it should be trusted could be the best option. However, if you are running a web design company, something with a bit more interactivity and flair might be a better way to demonstrate the work that your company does.
2. Choose a Style
No matter what type of profile format you decide to utilise, there are several general style rules you should observe within your profile.
Always ensure that the content is written in a clear and consistent style and choose a font that is readable and appropriate. Also, even if you are emphasising the text component of your profile, don't let the copy turn into a large block of words. Break things up with headers and lists that will keep people who read your profile engaged.
Consider the use of industry jargon in your business profile, too. Sometimes, industry-specific terms and acronyms are necessary to demonstrate your knowledge of a topic, but they may be misleading to individuals from outside of the industry trying to achieve an understanding of what your business does.
3. Discuss Your Products and Services
Make it clear what your company does, even if you think your product or services are self-evident. Describe what your core business accomplishes, the services you specialise in and how your company benefits its customers and clients. Even Starbucks mentions that it sells coffee – put your core competencies front and centre.
4. Clarify Your Corporate Structure
This doesn't need to be a particularly long section – a simple sentence about how your business is structured will usually suffice. Specify the key information, such as whether your business is led by executive staff or a board of directors. Also, mention if you are a private or publicly held company.
5. Detail Your Company History
A large company with a long history may not need to tell their entire, decades-long journey. It may be more helpful to describe the company’s most recent pivots, and how the events of the last few years have changed the course of the business.
However, for a new company, there may not be much history to share. In this case, it can be more useful to talk about what brought your principal staff members to the business, and how their past experiences have prepared them to lead the company.
6. Highlight Your Achievements
Take some time to speak about your company's accomplishments. Any meaningful awards or milestones are fair game to include. Use this section to establish your competence and communicate that your company is an industry leader.
7. Emphasise Your Corporate Culture
Describing your business' atmosphere doesn't need its own section; it can be more of a tonal inclusion. If you are in an industry that puts a high value on professionalism, then you can communicate this throughout your word choice and structure. The profile's format should always be reflective of how your company operates.
Conversely, if your business depends on attracting innovative and unique talent, you need to demonstrate what makes your company an attractive place to work. Whatever end of the spectrum you represent, make sure it comes through clearly in your profile.
8. Review What You've Written
Once you have written and styled your company profile, you should leave it for a short period (perhaps a couple of days), and then return to look at it. This will allow you to see it from a slightly different perspective, enabling you to change things that you may not have previously noticed.
Don't forget about grammar and spelling, either. Editing may ultimately take the least amount of time, but it requires the most focus. Don't send out a company profile to the public until you know your copy is flawless.
9. Make Sure It is Brand Aligned
Your copy and formatting should be aligned to communicate what your company represents. Try and get a second set of eyes on the paper and encourage them to give you a genuine assessment, too; if they read it but don't quite understand what you're trying to convey, then it may be time to go back to the drawing board.
10. Update as Necessary
In general, your company profile should be a document that will represent your company for some time – but that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep it current. After all, figures change, new milestones are met, and startups shift course to find the best way forward. Make sure that this is reflected in your company profile.
By including all of these components, you should be able to put together a document that you can share and be proud of. When closing out your profile, include a call to action as well, if not to try your services or enjoy your products, then at least to learn more about your business at your website.
In the meantime, if you're still not sure of how to craft the perfect piece, then why not take a look at our list of the best company profiles for inspiration?
What other tips would you give for writing a company profile? Let us know in the comment section below.