Many new entrepreneurs may think that getting business cards printed is a relatively easy thing to do. But, it is important to remember that your business card provides not only your contact information but a snapshot of your brand. Here are our top 5 key things to consider before going to print so that you portray your company in the best light.
Selecting your Company Name, Logo & Brand
Be sure to choose the right name for your business, and also make sure that the company name is cleared for use. Using the name of your corporation, LLC or DBA is a common choice. Additionally, you may also want to brand your company name with either a logo, graphic text or both.
Logo & Branding
Many entrepreneurs will try to cut corners by designing their own logo or using stock images from the local printer. This is cost effective and very inexpensive. However, the final design could look "homemade" and "unprofessional". Remember your business card represents you and your company. A professionally designed logo is worth the investment.
LogoWorks' Startup Package is perfect for the serious business owner, which and includes a logo design, stationery design, 3 page website and 500 free business cards. All for under $1500. They also offer stand-alone logo design services, where a team of professional designers will create your company logo from $300 to $600. Click here for more information, plus get $30 off any service.
If you have the resources (i.e. money), hiring a graphic designer or a branding consultant to create your logo is a great option. The only drawback is cost which can range from hundreds to several thousands of dollars. During the startup phase, spending tons of money for a logo may not be the right choice, especially when cutting costs is crucial. One alternative that many entrepreneurs have relied upon is outsourcing to online logo companies to get their creative projects designed without the high ad agency fees.
Now once your logo is complete, the final task is to trademark your company name and logo to protect your logo from infringement and imitators.
Company Website and Email
If you haven't done so already, you will want to secure the website domain name(s) and showcase the website address on your business card. Regardless if you're an internet business or not, you should invest in a company website. You don't have to have full website up and running before you start handing out business cards. Just be sure to buy the domain name(s) and put up a "coming soon" page with your company contact information.
Once you have the domain name, you can also set up email accounts so you can send and receive company email. You can start thinking about how to design and build your website later when you have time to plan and develop your website strategy.
WebsitePros has a great, no-strings-attached, free website trial offer where they build a completely functional website. You can decide in 30 days whether or not to purchase. If you are only looking to secure your domain name and set up your company email, NetworkSolutions.com offers low cost domain names services with strengths in website security and is one of the most established domain name providers in the industry.
Some business owners may use free email (and website) services to cut costs such as Hotmail, Yahoo Mail (and MySpace). The drawback is that you may compromise the professionalism that is conveyed with an address from email@example.com.
Phone and Fax Numbers
You should also put some thought into what phone and fax numbers to print on your business card. Depending on the type of business, you will want make sure you secure proper communication services for your operations. Many startup entrepreneurs will consider using their cell or home phone as their main phone line. This is another way to cut costs, especially during the start up phase. However, you'll want to make sure to maintain the professionalism of you and your business.
Ring Central offers a free 30-day trial for a fully functional virtual phone system. Click here to learn more. GotVmail also inexpensive virtual phone systems designed for entrepreneurs. Make your company sound " big" with GotVmail, starting only at $9.95/month (with a 30-day money back guarantee). Click here to learn more.
Fonality is another option for those of you that need a little more sophistication and functionality with your phone system. Click here to learn more about their cost-effective, enterprise-class business phone systems. Be sure to ask for a free consultation.
Business & Mailing Addresses
For startups and home-based businesses, using your home address or a P.O. Box as your business address initially is probably fine. Let's face it until your business is successful and stable, committing to a multi-year, commercial lease can be risky (which is probably why you're running the business from your home).
Another alternative is to consider using a virtual office service which allows you to use a real business address in most metropolitan cities across the U.S without the risk of committing to a multi-year commercial lease. You can also take advantage of mail forwarding, answering services (live or automated), meeting/conference rooms, internet access, work stations, and more. Ranging from high-end "Park Avenue" locations to standard commercial spaces in your local area, a virtual office can help your company look more established and stable as a company. If you need to set up a virtual office, Regus.com is a the industry leader with over 350 locations in the U.S. Click here to learn more. LegalZoom members also get one month's rent free!
There are a variety of options for getting your business cards printed. But before you do, go through your Rolodex of business cards and rate them in terms of design, layout and overall branding. You'll notice some businesses have invested time and money on the layout and design of the card, whereas other companies have used standard templates and stock images. The differences should be night and day.
If you're serious about your brand and image, have your business card designed by a professional. If you're using designer to create your logo, you may want to also request company letterhead and business card designs to complete your corporate identity package.
Once you're ready to go to print, you'll have a few options. Your local printer is one option, especially if you need that face-to-face service and local access. Printing online has also become very popular and inexpensive, as well. Be sure to get a few quotes and comparison shop. Another good resource would be your graphic designer, as she/he will usually have a few good printing contacts in your area. VistaPrint offers a variety of free (and low cost) printing services. To learn more about free and premium business cards, click here. LegalZoom members also get 25% off any service.
Are you ready to get started?
As you can see there are a variety of things to consider before printing and handing out your business cards. Regardless if you like it or not, your business card makes a statement about your company. Good luck with your new business. Feel free to email any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.