Small Business Tips

September 2018 Archive
Networking with Business Cards

Are you getting maximum benefit from networking events you attend? If not, try taking a look at how you are promoting yourself. Is your business card specific or interesting enough to help make a good first impression?

Here are some tips from Vannie Ryanes of BellaOnline.com, an editorial site with a focus on women’s issues.

Make sure you have a proper business cards. You card should be:

Clean and unmarked with neat edges.
• In a business card case or clean briefcase pocket.
• Up-to-date information; no hand-written changes.
• Suitable for your line of business; simple/extravagant.
• If you have several businesses have an appropriate card.
• A double-sided card is perfect for multiple businesses.
• Readily available. You should not have to search for your card.

Recommended Reading:

Five Ideas for Keeping Business Cards Handy
Ivan Misner: Networking
Networking for Shy People


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Networking Cards: The Business Card Alternative
The Networking Boogie Man
Buddy Networking: A Clever Way to Expand Your Network
Name Memorization
Remembering Your Customers

By Chris Brunner
Sunday, September 30th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Networking |

Polish Your Company Image

In business, the image your company emanates directly influences a client’s first impression. After time, a corporate identity can become worn or dated. First, research your target market and build off what you learn. Understand what your clients want so that you can deliver it via your marketing mediums.

Freshening up your business cards, brochures, postcards, stationery and web pages will help shine a different light on your company.

Supplemental Links:
M&O Marketing Consultants – How to Improve Your Corporate Image
Stelzner Consulting – Identity Makeover Examples


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Marketing with Postcards
The Importance of a Logo
Starting Your Own Business, Part 3 of 4
Remembering Your Customers
How Likeable Are You?

By Chris Brunner
Saturday, September 29th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

Investigate the Competition

Trade shows offer a perfect opportunity for a business owner to scope out their competition.

Think about it… all of them gathered in one place at one time displaying their latest and greatest products or services. Even if you don’t speak with a booth representative, you can still walk away with a gold mine of information just by inspecting the booth and taking a presentation packet.

Just by virtue of being at the show, your competitors are sharing the following information:

1) Who they are.
2) What their reputation and image is in the marketplace.
3) Part of their sales and marketing strategy.

For more tips on investigating your competition (including how to get juicy information) please visit the link below.

Source:
TheTradeShowCoach.com


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More Tips for Expo Success
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By Chris Brunner
Friday, September 28th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Ownership |

What’s Your Business Model?

Quite simply, the business model is an explanation of how a company will generate revenue to meet your expenses and earn a profit. It also explains the sources of the company’s revenues, how much these sources pay and how often.

Is your sales product or service based? Based on this question, here are several types of business models that you could implement or enhance to further your income.

Fee for Service Models:
1) Day Rate
2) Project Fee
3) Monthly Retainer

Product-Based Models:
1) Flat Fee
2) Subscription
3) Bait and Hook

If you aren’t earning as much as you would like through your business, the marketing plan may not be at fault. Take a look at your business model and determine if changes are needed.

Source:
GetClientsNow.com


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By Chris Brunner
Thursday, September 27th, 2018 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Operations |

How NOT to Fund a Business

How many of you have used a credit card for a business expense? With credit card companies aggressively offering easy approval with sizable credit limits it’s understandable why many people do this.

Banks put small business owners through the wringer before lending money. … if the banks want to lend responsibly, look at it from your own point of view: why would you want to borrow irresponsibly? Because that’s exactly what using your personal credit card can be.

Bottom line: be responsible and use the credit card(s) sparingly. Your business will be much stronger, and you will be much happier.

Source:
ShropshireStar.com (U.K.)


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Name Memorization
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Networking Cards: The Business Card Alternative

By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, September 26th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Money |

Preparing for Disaster

With the recent hurricane barrage on US coasts, we are reminded that natural disasters can cause more than just property damage.

The winds also can blow in armies of fly-by-night contractors and door-to-door scam artists eager to capitalize on the misfortunes of innocent people.

The California Department of Insurance has put together this preparation guide for yourself and your business in the event of a natural disaster. It focuses on hiring an honest contractor to rebuild your home/business.

Source:
California Department of Insurance


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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, September 25th, 2018 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Ownership |

How to Profit From Networking

When it comes to business, who you know is almost everything. Networking yourself is an essential business practice that everyone should take part in. Why? Because quality business relationships can turn into profitable opportunities.

Here are five strategies to make networking profitable:

1) Choose the right networking group or event.
2) Focus on quality contacts versus quantity.
3) Make a positive first impression.
4) Be able to clearly state what you do.
5) Follow up after the event.

Networking produces results. The more people that know about you and your business — and trust you — the better chance you have of gaining a new client or free referral.

Source
About.com


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By Chris Brunner
Monday, September 24th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Networking |

What Do Your Clients Need?

When starting a new business, preparation is half the battle. Arm yourself with the knowledge of what your target clients want and you will be able to deliver it to them much faster and more effectively.

Lack of research in your target market is like playing darts in the dark. You might hit the target occasionally, but more than likely, you’ll fall short and end up with a bunch of holes to fix.

When you have a clear picture of what your target market is truly looking for, you’ll be able to package your services as a solution. Design all your marketing tools – web site, brochure, telemarketing script, sales presentation – to show how your service addresses the hot buttons you identified.

Source:
HealthyWealthynWise.com


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By Chris Brunner
Sunday, September 23rd, 2018 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Marketing |

Stop Sitting on the Sidelines

If you are shy around new people, networking events can be an intimidating experience. How should you introduce yourself? What should you talk about?

Striking conversation with a random person isn’t easy for some, but with a little practice, you can become a master networker.

First, set a personal goal to not only talk to, say, 25 new people, but also to ask each one a few key questions. Set another goal to bring back 10 business cards. Call (your new contacts) that same day (or the next morning if it’s an evening event).

Great salespeople learn to become lead magnets, and they learn how by getting out there on the dance floor.

Source
BizJournals.com


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By Chris Brunner
Saturday, September 22nd, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Networking |

Get People Talking About You

“DARE to be bold if you want your business to stand out from the crowd.” That was the message marketing expert Carolyn Stafford delivered at a Women in Business workshop last week.

By putting your best foot forward, your company can thrive and grow. With more and more competition joining the game, now is the time to establish your company as something different from the rest.

“People buy your personality, they buy you,”

With the dawn of the Information Age it’s important, now more than ever, to put a name and face with your company. Doing this is the first step to “humanizing” a company so that people will feel more comfortable doing business with you.

Source:
The Daily Telegraph – Australia


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By Chris Brunner
Friday, September 21st, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

Name Memorization

This article is written from an employee point of view, however, I feel that these tips could apply to any business owner who is out networking themselves.

Of course not remembering the name of someone you meet is a social faux pas. Especially if you’re attempting to gain their business. This shows lack of respect and lack of professionalism. Here are some tips to help you remember names:

Concentrate. Be sure you hear it when they say it. Say it right back to them when they tell you. Then use it again quickly.

“If people give you their business cards, read the card back to them. Ask for the correct pronunciations of their names and voice it back to them. Then at some point, turn the card over and jot down information about them, such as their hair color and what they were wearing.”

Source:
California Job Journal


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By Chris Brunner
Thursday, September 20th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Networking |

5 Affordable Marketing Tips

Think you can’t afford to implement any effective marketing tactics? Here are five ways to make a splash on a shoestring budget.

1. Talk to your clients.
2. Creatively package your marketing campaigns.
3. Get the word out with publicity.
4. Leverage existing relationships.
5. Commit to e-mail marketing.

While these methods make take some time and work, the potential returns far outweigh the costs.

Source:
Entrepreneur.com


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Direct Mail Marketing Tips (2 of 2)
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By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, September 19th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

The Importance of Branding

Branding is an integral part of the business building process. Large corporations spend hundreds of millions of dollars building their brands, and there’s a reason:

  • Brands enable customers to remember your product-service.
  • Brands build customer loyalty and lead to repeat purchases.
  • Brands make it easier for current clients or customers to refer you to others.
  • Brands send a message as to what your customers can expect.
  • Brands convey an emotion.
  • Brands add value.

We use brands as shorthand to make our trips to the grocery store easier; we use brands to reassure us about our purchasing decisions; we even use brands to define ourselves in society.

Remember: a brand is a promise. With a brand, you set customer expectations. When someone buys your product or service, they count on those expectations to be fulfilled.

Source:
The News-Press


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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, September 18th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

Persuade Your Customers

Persuasion is often used to describe a derogatory action. Persuasion is not pushing someone to do something. Pushing creates resistance and resentment. Persuasion feels more like pulling them to a positive point.

Follow these steps to further entice your customers:

1) Understand your product by understanding what it can do for others.
2) Ask well-thought-out questions.
3) Persuade others to act by appealing to emotions.

Source:
BizJournals.com


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By Chris Brunner
Monday, September 17th, 2018 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Marketing |

Barriers to Marketing Success

As a continuation from last Tuesday’s post, Benefits of Market Research, here are three common barriers to small business marketing success.

1) No clear definition of success
At what point can you call your marketing campaign a success? Will your success be based on profits, sales, or customer satisfaction?

2) Not clarifying who your ideal clients are
Before you even start your campaign, find out who your clients are and what they want. What are the demographics and characteristics of your ideal clients?

3) Not spelling out your unique value
Can you offer your clients something that the competition cannot? What makes your product or service better than the others available? Why should people choose you to do business with?

Answering these questions will give you a strong foundation of knowledge for a successful marketing campaign. Your campaign will be leaner, meaner and more efficient. Not only will you save money but will likely increase profits.

Source:
WebProNews.com


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By Chris Brunner
Sunday, September 16th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

Testing New Marketing Ideas

1) If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
2) Measure your results in order to determine what works best.
3) Marketing isn’t just about the numbers.
4) If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
5) It’s always OK to try something new; just make sure not to discontinue the marketing you’ve been doing that gets results.
6) Wait 3 days to decide.

Including new ideas in your marketing plan is a healthy practice, just make sure you fully understand the implications and the chance for success in each plan. In other words, have a plan for the plan.

Source:
WebProNews.com


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By Chris Brunner
Saturday, September 15th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

Benefits of Market Research

Researching your market prior to entering is a sound decision for any business owner. Unfortunately, it’s often overlooked and ignored. The results can be loss of revenue and a slow start.

What are the benefits of market research?

1) Will help you better communicate.
Learn about your potential clients — who they are and what they want the most. Nothing improves communication skills better than a little person to person contact.

2) Will help identify opportunities.
Check the competition. Are they missing something you can capitalize on? What can you do better than they can? Are you clients in need of something nobody else is offering?

3) Will minimize risk.
Just like any situation, if you come prepared you will be less likely to loose and more likely to win.

4) Will create benchmarks to help you measure progress.
How well are you doing? By setting the standard high from the start, you will be in a better position for sustained growth.

Source:
WebProNews.com


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Friday, September 14th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

How Likeable Are You?

Face it — in today’s vicious corporate jungle, making a good first impression is crucial. There are no second chances. Instant assumptions are made and you’ve sealed the deal one way or another.

The reception of business cards are just one of the many areas where many people take the inconsiderate route:

Act as though you have received a gift. Upon accepting a card, you have the opportunity to repeat the name and be corrected on pronunciation. You should also ask any questions that the card itself may bring to mind and comment on the design if practical.

The idea is to show interest in any contact’s card, which will make them more likely to be interested in yours. Then respectively tuck it away in a safe place like a $100 bill. Your actions won’t be forgotten.

Source:
Toronto Sun


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By Chris Brunner
Thursday, September 13th, 2018 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Networking |

Find a Financial Planner

“There is a belief in this country that ‘I don’t need to deal with money management because I hardly have any money’. Many young people engage in “short-term thinking,” like expecting to save money only after they graduate from college or professional school.”

Unfortunately the topic of saving and investing money is not taught in our schools unless you specialize in the subject. It doesn’t matter how much money you make. Take the time to find a good financial planner Springfield Mo that will guide you in the right direction.

I recently took the step and I can personally tell you it was an extremely good feeling.

Source:
The New York Times


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By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, September 12th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Money |

How to Survive an Earnout

Earnout – An arrangement in which sellers of a business receive additional future payment, usually based on future earnings.

“As many as half of all small business acquisitions involve earnouts, which generally last from two to four years and range from 15% to 30% of the purchase price (though 50% is not unheard of). Earnouts are particularly common in acquisitions of high-growth companies and those with unproven products. Takeovers of service businesses, in which the entrepreneur’s relationships with clients are crucial, are also likely candidates for earnouts.”

Earnouts can be a very risky transaction. It takes all of the power (and accomplishments) you hold in your company and hands it over to the corporation who purchases the rights. Don’t get starry-eyed by the initial payoff. Negotiate for all you and your company are worth.

Here’s how to protect yourself:

1) Get a lawyer.
2) Get the largest up-front payment you can.
3) Negotiate the targets for the earnout.
4) Fight for sliding-scale rather than all-or-nothing payments.

Source:
BusinessWeek.com


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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, September 11th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ownership |

Avoid Legal Trouble

Being a new small business owner, I was recently forced to re-evaluate my company’s legal position. As a sole-proprietor, I learned that ALL of my personal assets were at risk of being taken if there were ever a legal dispute against my company.

Immediately, I visited a lawyer and formed a Limited Liability Company. Taxes are figured exactly the same, but now the assets I’ve worked so hard for are better protected.

“Operating a business as the sole proprietorship puts the owner in a vulnerable position. A better choice would be to start your company as a limited liability corporation. This means your company is a separate entity that must deal with its own legal issues and you are not personally held liable.”

Source:
WebProNews.com


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By Chris Brunner
Monday, September 10th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Operations |

Small Business Scams

Finding the contact information for a small business owner is amazingly easy, no matter if your business is online or not. Here are two of the latest and most dangerous scams that are affecting business owners across the country:

The “We Just Need Your Checking Account Number To Confirm Your Creditworthiness” Scam

This scam allows the culprit to record your checking account number in order to write demand drafts payable from your account. Not only do they not require a signature, but they require no action by the checking account holder.

The “Please Cash Our Check For $4.23” Scam

This scam is much more brilliant and extremely sneaky. The scammer sends a legitimate check made out to your company. If you cash or deposit that check, your account information is printed on it. The check is returned to the scammer with your account info present allowing him to begin writing demand drafts against your account.

What to do:

Keep an eye on your account. I check mine daily. If any withdraws (large or small) show up that you aren’t familiar with, contact your bank immediately. If your bank doesn’t offer online account access, find one that does.

Source:
Entrepreneur.com


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By Chris Brunner
Sunday, September 9th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Money |

Taking Time Off

Go ahead… relax on the beach without a care in the world. Not so fast! What’s happening back home? Is your business being run correctly? Are you still making money even though you aren’t there?

These are questions an entrepreneur must face when deciding to take that much needed vacation.

Veterans of vacation angst say they’ve found ways to make it easier to take time off. They’ve set up their companies so the business can run without the boss there. They’ve armed themselves with plenty of technology to stay in touch — although that can lead to a tug-of-war between enjoying a trip and taking care of business.

Taking a vacation can actually benefit your company by helping you evaluate the method by which you run the business. If something goes terribly wrong while you are gone, you know have a weak link in the system.

A well-run company will easily survive its owner’s absence.

Source:
MSNBC.com


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By Chris Brunner
Saturday, September 8th, 2018 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Ownership |

Starting a New Business

Starting a new business isn’t just about marketing and advertising your new product or service. Creating a solid foundation for the business to function on should be priority #1.

Here are some tips from Mary Ellen Martelli, a professional business consultant:

1. Have a Written Business Plan.
2. Begin Your Business Branding Immediately.
3. Get a Business Website.
4. Advertise with Consistency.
5. Get Your Business Publicized
6. Network – Network – Network
7. Assess and Redirect Along the Way


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By Chris Brunner
Friday, September 7th, 2018 @ 12:07 AM CDT

Startup |

More Tips for Expo Success

Exposition organizers often start planning their shows months in advance, and smart exhibitors begin their planning shortly thereafter. By not waiting to the last minute to reserve your spot, you can put yourself in a prime location.

Once you’ve reserved the best possible location at an expo, these 9 easy steps can help make your next trade show experience a success:

1. Read your pre-show materials
2. Meet your deadlines
3. Set up early
4. Plan your booth
5. Utilize the right people to work your booth
6. Make people remember you
7. Capture qualified prospects
8. Reconnect with existing clients
9. Follow up

Source:
New Hampshire Business Review


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By Chris Brunner
Thursday, September 6th, 2018 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Marketing |

Tips for Trade Show Success

Trade shows can be a great way to showcase your products or services to a large number of people at one location. These gatherings also allow for excellent networking opportunities.

Forward planning is the key to trade show success.

1. Market prior to the show
2. Create an eye-catching booth
3. Provide promotional materials
4. Train your staff to market for you.
5. Create an appealing giveaway
6. Follow up on leads

Source:
MoreBusiness.com


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Wednesday, September 5th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

Protect Your Wireless Networks

“Wireless networks transmit data over radio waves, which can potentially be intercepted. As a result, an unprotected wireless network is like an unlocked door–and too many small businesses are leaving their doors wide open.

By year’s end, about 75 percent of businesses with 1,000 employees or less will have wireless networks, according to research firm Gartner. Only half of all wireless networks are protected.”

You don’t have to be a “techie” to be concerned about security. The hacking of wireless networks is real. As wireless technology becomes more popular, the potential for abuse and crime will rise with it.

Here are steps you can take to secure your wireless network:

  • Change your device’s default password.
  • Change the default SSID.
  • Don’t broadcast the SSID.
  • Use encryption.
  • Give off-site users a virtual private network (VPN) connection.
  • Keep your wireless hardware’s firmware updated.
  • Enable MAC address filtering.
  • Set a wireless policy.
  • Get help if you need it.
  • Stay up to date.


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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, September 4th, 2018 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Technology |

You Cant Replace Face Time

When it comes to business, a little face-to-face contact goes a long way. For those of you running a home based business, it’s especially easy to rely on technology to make contact with people.

“Not only are you missing out on potential revenue by staying at home, you’re also robbing yourself of continuing education, moral support, industry intelligence, personal fulfillment, and the serendipitous business opportunities that only arise when you take a few moments to meet someone new.”

Before you set out to meet with potential clients, equip yourself with the tools and knowledge you need to succeed. Take a pocketful of business cards with you and follow up strategically with the prospects you meet.

“When you invite someone to a structured meeting or lunch, spend time beforehand outlining what it is you want to accomplish, how you will present your business succinctly, and what the benefits are of doing business with you.”

Source:
BusinessWeek.com


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Monday, September 3rd, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Networking |

Telephone Etiquette Tips – Handling Client Calls

I carry many hats working for a law firm. I am a legal assistant, billing clerk and also the receptionist. A couple of weeks ago I attended a seminar called “How to Be an Outstanding Receptionist.” Not that I wasn’t any good at my job, but in recognition of the fact that no one is perfect and we all need improvement.

Most of the seminar was a refresher course, if you will, but there were some interesting topics and point that I thought useful for any business owner, not just the girl up front. One topic in particular was dealing with clientele over the phone.

Regardless of your position in a business, there are some things everyone should know:

Screening Calls
One key element for screening incoming calls is to avoid asking questions that can have a simple yes or no answer. For example, instead of asking, “May I tell him your name please?” which can result in “no” as response from the hostile client who feels her calls aren’t getting returned, simply say “What is your name?” or “Your name please.” You still may have hostile clients, but their options are much more limited. As long as you remain assertive and in control, you shouldn’t have many problems.

Fast Talkers
They’re out there… those people who can’t seem to talk slowly enough for you to understand them, let alone take down and name and number. One way to try and get them to slow down is to subtly slow your own speech. Many people will subconsciously catch on. Another option is to simply state that what they have to say is important to you and you want to be sure and catch everything so you would appreciate if they could talk a bit more slowly.

Chatters
Every grandma wants to talk about her beautiful grandchildren, it’s just that some of them want to tell you when three other phone lines are ringing. Try talking fast so that they get the impression that you’re in a hurry. Don’t asked open ended questions such as “What happened next?” Instead ask “What can I help you with today?” or “What is the issue at hand?

An interesting statistic that the seminar leader threw at us is that 93% of communication is tone and body language and only 7% is that actual words. So always remain positive and talk with a smile (clients can tell) and the majority of your calls will have a positive outcome.


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, September 2nd, 2018 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Operations |

Choosing a Business Name

Choosing a business name is arguably the most important part of starting a business. Botch this one and it will haunt you for a long time.

A winning business name is more than just a catchy phrase, it should draw business in itself.

Susan Ward of About.com Canada offers these six tips for creating a winning business name:

1) Memorable — but easy to spell.
2) A strong visual element.
3) Positive connotation.
4) Must include information about what your business does.
5) Must be fairly short.
6) Choose your company/logo colors carefully.

[Read more…]

On the About Us page, I tell the story of this company name that originally started as BCT then GFX. Both of these were already taken so I went with GreatFX.

The “FX” sounds like “Effects” giving you “Great Effects”… what you can get by marketing with professional business cards.

Not everyone immediately understands this but many people have. It may be one of the more obscure names I’ve come up with, but it works for me :-)

Recommended Reading:

How To Create a Great Business Name
8 Mistakes To Avoid When Naming Your Business
How to Name Your Business


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Elements of a Winning Brand
Elements of a Successful Business
The Importance of a Logo
Enhance Your Image Through Your Words
What Goes Around Comes Back Around

By Chris Brunner
Saturday, September 1st, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

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