Terri Zwierzynski, our official Solo Entrepreneur Expert
When I first started my career as a solo entrepreneur, I hired a web designer to create my website for me. He was awesome, and I loved his work. When I received my first bill, it included a contact email address for his "support department" and "billing department." I was a little curious about who those other people were! Later I found out it was just him...he was ALL of those departments -- design, support, billing, the works! A true case of putting lipstick on the pig. Even though he attempted to "paint" his business with these additional departments, underneath it all, he was still simply a solo entrepreneur.
You Can't Contrive Credibility It was amusing to me at the time...but now I see it for what it was: someone trying to be or look like something they aren't in a misguided attempt to add credibility. This web designer was worried that clients wouldn't take him seriously as a professional if they knew it was just him. So he created the illusion of these additional departments, presumably staffed by other employees. It wasn't what I would call dishonest, more of a stretching of the truth. He delivered on his promises and had the needed expertise; none of his clients received anything less than was promised (and he was actually quite good at over-delivering).
The Risk of Dressing Up as Something You're Not I knew this designer well enough and trusted him so it didn't really bother me much, although it was somewhat of a revelation when I discovered he was a solo entrepreneur just like me! His other clients, however, expecting a bigger enterprise, might not have been as forgiving of the pretense. They may have felt deceived, suddenly unsure if they made the right choice. Future work and referrals were put in jeopardy simply because the vendor set an expectation that wasn't exactly true.
Read Terri's entire article Marketing Mythology: Putting Lipstick on a Pig