Back again after a short hiatus to deal with my own early stage startup challenges. Thankfully, we were able to navigate through the majority of them and the march to success continues. I want to pick up from where I left off addressing early stage startup issues and some potential solutions. The bottomline is to do your best to set yourself up for success without spending a ton of money early on. Stay lean because your business should and will evolve into areas that you couldn’t even imagine in the future.
Here are a few essentials that must be addressed in the beginning and some ideas on how to tackle them:
1) Name Your Business – Some entrepreneurs seem to agonize over this process while others don’t seem to care. I probably fall in the middle. I actually found my company’s name while conducting item #2 and highly suggest that you take that process into consideration before settling on a name. The business name is the first domino in a string of early tasks that are somewhat critical in order to “professionalize” yourself as an entrepreneur. Being “or appearing” professional is essential to legitimizing your business concept in the eyes of those around you. Therefore, I don’t suggest killing yourself over the perfect name in the beginning but take some time to think it through. Don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions from your personal network or potential customers.
2) Secure Your Domain Address – Whether you are web-based or not, you most likely will still need a website. The first step is purchasing a domain address from a vendor and thankfully domains are relatively cheap. I went with www.domain.com and have been fairly satisfied with my experience so far. They offer low cost email add-ons with purchase so you can immediately have a @whateveryounameyourcompany.com email to further professionalize yourself. The challenge is finding an address that suits your business name. It is very, very, very difficult to find a business name that will simply allow you to add a .com to the end and make the purchase. Most common addresses are already purchased and unavailable. However, the domain vendor will provide some suggestions for you that are available based off your original search. This is an excellent opportunity to settle on a compromise name that will prevent you from having an extremely complex web address. Therefore, I would not suggest pushing this task any further down the list.
3) Create a Logo – DO NOT SPEND A TON OF MONEY ON A LOGO IN THE BEGINNING! Graphic artists will commonly charge $1000 at a minimum to do a professional design. If you have not conducted extensive brand development discussions, just keep the logo simple for now. A cool way to develop a logo if you are not creative (like me) is to run an online design contest. I ran a contest through Hatchwise www.hatchwise.com. They advertise $29 contests but if you want a decent logo you need to put up around $100. The contest was fun and I received over 50 different designs and was allowed to provide feedback to the designers. I did not use the exact design of the winner but it was the foundation for me to build my actual logo. I encourage you not to spend a lot of money on this process right now because I am completely redesigning my company’s logo 10 months later after conducting a full brand development analysis.
4) Order Business cards – Now that you have a name and logo, time to order some professional business cards. My recommendation is to spend a little money here (not a lot). Don’t get the cookie cutter card that everyone else has but don’t go over-the-top either. I used Overnight Prints www.overnightprints.com but some of my peers recommended Vista www.vistaprint.com. Business cards are critical for an entrepreneur because you will be spending many days networking and discussing your business with people and you want to leave them with something. It also helps facilitate “the exchange” which will allow you to maintain contact with them going forward. I usually solidify the new professional contact by reaching out to them through LinkedIn the next day.
This all may seem fairly obvious but I have seen entrepreneurs mess with that order and it costs precious time and money early on. Alright, that is enough of me for now. Next time, I will write about some support mechanisms that are out there for veteran entrepreneurs and my recommendations.
Motivational Marine Quote of the Week:
“Three things to remember about leading Marines: 1) Always be yourself or your men will see right through you 2) Never ask your men to do anything that you would not do yourself 3) Develop unity through shared suffering” —-Marine Captain to Ground Intelligence Officer Course Students
Motivational Business Quote of the Week:
Greg Call is the Founder & CEO of PatriotMove and is a USMC Afghan War Veteran. You can reach out to Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his company’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/patriotmove.