There will be a host of products, services, and other resources that you will need as you start, manage and grow your business. But, what are the most essential tools you need as you begin down the road? Here are our top five start up secrets to get you off the ground and running.
Don't just pick a Good Name, Pick a Great Name
Your brand is everything. So, by the same token your name should definitely be easy to spell and remember. A play on words can be amusing but remember you are naming a business not creating a personalized license plate.
When considering a name, you will want to do a Trademark Check and a Domain Name Check. Now here is why. You are building a brand, so you will want to make sure that you pick something that isn't already out in the marketplace or even similar to something in the market place. LegalZoom can even provide you with a Comprehensive Trademark Search to make sure you are clear of any conflicts.
Once you have crossed the Trademark hurdle, you will want to make sure that you can buy a domain name that will match. Basically, you should check to make sure that the .com and .net domain names are available. To secure a website domain, click here.
Now that you have handled the basics you can get to the more important stuff like creating the logo. Collaborate with colleagues and friends to make sure that the company name you like resonates with people. Remember to be open to constructive criticism. Our partner Logoworks.com can help you get started on the way to creating a stand-out logo.
Before you move any further, you will now need to make sure you protect your brand by getting a Trademark for your logo.
Focus on your Customer
We suggest that you concentrate on improving the customer experience, especially during the startup phase. As an entrepreneur with a new business, there are many distractions you'll have to deal with, so prioritizing your goals is critical. Sometimes spending 2 hours online to save $30 on a printer may feel like you've accomplished something, but you could be wasting precious time. Would you rather save $30 on a printer or cut your cost of goods by 10% by spending your time looking for a better vendor? Remember stay focused.
Hire Hard Workers and Take Care of Them
For most of you startups out there, you're probably the only employee working for the company. But when you do start building and expanding your team, be sure to hire hard-working people. In the startup environment, there should only be one "idea" person. And that's you, the business owner. Everyone else should be doers! Every startup is filled with great ideas, just be sure that there are people to actually execute. The idea is only 10% and execution is 90%. Also, take care of your employees. Little things go a long way. Be sure to invest in good chairs for your work-aholic employees and maybe spend a little less on desks. You never hear employees complaining about desks. One other thing to do is invest in a good coffee machine, good coffee, and sodas for your employees (free of course). Going to Starbucks every day will eat into your company's productivity and your employees' wallets.
Use Your Business Credit Card.
There are a variety of ways you can save money and get free or discounted services using the right business card, instead of cash. At LegalZoom, we used two credit cards that we still use today. The American Express¨ Business Gold Rewards Card is one of our favorite cards.
LegalZoom has earned many rewards points and bonus points, just by using our cards for various recurring business expenses, such as internet marketing. We earn points for nearly every dollar we spend. Not to mention, you can also get a 5% discount on Yahoo Search Marketing using the American Express¨ Business Gold Rewards Card. There are a variety of rewards cards out there; we recommend American Express and the Open Network.
Consider a Virtual Office
Why sign a 12 month lease right off the bat. Keeping your fixed costs down is crucial. LegalZoom.com was started out of the Founder's condominium. If you have some spare room, use it until you actually build the business and really need the space. If you do need an office for face-to-face meetings, try setting up meetings at a local hotel (mid to high-end). Many hotels have meeting rooms you can rent, or meet at a restaurant in the lobby.
You can also look into virtual office services, where you can pay to use a prestigious business address (e.g. Park Avenue in NYC, Michigan Avenue in Chicago or Wilshire Boulevard in LA). Many virtual office services also offer mail forwarding, secretarial/administrative, and also have meeting rooms for rent. If you do end up leasing office space, whatever you do, hold off on buying a several thousand dollar phone system. There a variety of virtual phone systems that can allow you to sound like a big company with out spending thousands of dollars on the PBX or ACD phone system. Here are some resources for saving money on office space and related costs:
1. Virtual Office Services: Regus is by far the leader in Virtual Office services, worldwide. LegalZoom customers are also entitled to one month's rent free. Click here for more details.
2. Virtual Phone Systems: Ring Central offers a 30 day free trial for LegalZoom customers. They also offer local, toll-free and vanity numbers as well. Click here for more details.
Hopefully these startup tips will help you build your new and growing business. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck with your business.