Starting a business is a slow process that takes significant and often precious resources – time, money, and energy. Often times a new business focuses on gaining new clients but it can be easy to forget the essentials in doing so.
How better to make a first impression than with a professional, quality business card? While a home-printed card is relatively inexpensive and seems to look good enough, you can get cards created by an online company for close to the cost of printing yourself. A friend once told me when she was getting invitations for her wedding that it was more expensive to get the materials from the store to print than it was from the company Vistaprint. This online company also sells business cards, brochures, postcards, and a variety of other printed and electronic products that small business owners need.
So what should your business card include? The basics, of course: company name, your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, website, along with a logo and company tagline if you have one. It doesn’t need to be fancy or extravagant, just something that communicates your information in an attractive way.
Many consumers rely on review sites like Yelp to find out more about local businesses. It’s extremely helpful to have customer reviews, but when you’re a new business, you likely don’t have these yet. Let your website speak for your company in a professional and authentic way. It’s said that people spend just seconds making a decision about a website, so if your pages don’t load or load too slow, there’s poor content, it’s irrelevant or never updated, it will be difficult to gain a new prospective customer. You don’t need to build your website from scratch when you’re just starting out (unless your small business offers web design!), but utilize it to create a face for your business.
Domain E-mail Address
Many small business owners resort to a public e-mail address from a top provider – think Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail. While this is certainly better than nothing, it’s always better to have an e-mail address with a domain; example: firstname.lastname@example.org. By featuring the name of your business as the e-mail provider, it helps to create a more professional look to your business, even if it’s an at-home business with you as the only employee!
Every small business needs to start with a strategy, or a vision of where you see the business headed. While it can be fun to be spontaneous in a lot of situations, a business takes planning for it to be successful. We all know the statistics on the lack of success (some call it failure) of some small businesses. Don’t let yours be one of them by following these easy steps before going after your potential clients.
If you’ve started a business, no matter the size or time passed, what did you find was essential in starting your business and laying the foundation to success?
As written for YoungEntrepreneur, August 5, 2011