I am a 24-year-old entrepreneur currently running a startup that helps small businesses and nonprofits to market their brands using social media. I am focusing on working with as many clients as possible to help build my reputation in the social media world. In social media, reputation is everything, so I am trying to think of other ways (besides my strong experience and client list) to present my "scope of work" to clients in a more professional way: business cards, logo, marketing material, client lists, website and so on. My question is: Is all this really necessary? Are prospective small-business clients going to expect these things when I pitch my services, or are they going to be content with seeing me selling my services to them without all of the material?
I worked at a small company for three years but it went out of business in May. A lot of former customers have a negative image of the former business. As an independent contractor, I am hesitant to mention my association with the company in fear of being judged for what I had no authority over. How do I avoid the negative image and the aftermath from interfering with my future?