Creating a recognizable brand should be a top priority of any business, no matter your size or budget. The branding of your business will either attract customers or it will drive them away. It's that simple. Branding should be one of the very first considerations of a new (or existing) enterprise - yet it is shocking how little many entrepreneurs focus on the branding of their company and their products or services.
Nothing screams "small time"to me more than a business owner who hands me their business card which has neither a website to reference nor, more frequently, an email address tied to their domain name.
A serious entrepreneur should never have an email address that is tied to Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or any one of the litany of free email accounts. I personally do not like to send or answer emails to these free email sites due to the obvious ease into which they can get hacked! (See the John Podesta hacked emails...)
Bootstrapping a business startup is an art. It can be a lot of fun if approached the right way.
No matter how well-funded your business startup may be, the fundamentals of bootstrapping should never be forgotten - and should always be applied.
Bootstrapping is not the same thing as being "cheap". Cheap is penny-wise but dollar foolish. In my second venture in the air freight forwarding business I needed a cargo van to pickup client shipments, but to also use it as a rolling billboard for my business. I couldn't afford to go out and spend over $30,000 at the time for a new van. I searched and searched until I found a used cargo van for $1,200. It had a lot of miles on it but I had a mechanic check out and, with no immediate mechanical issues that he could find, I bought it.
Next I took it to body and paint shops for estimates where I found one willing to paint the exterior and put my logo on the van for $600. For less than $2,000, I got a cargo van, that...
Aspiring entrepreneurs often ask me for my opinion on their creative ideas, and there have been a few instances where I have been very impressed with the ingenuity and originality behind them. Too often is the case, however, when asked the following five questions, aspiring entrepreneurs are not prepared to answer the real rubber-meets-the-road questions about their business model, strategies and their target audience: the customer.
1. Who will be the customers that will use and buy this service or product? It is imperative to know who your target market is, or that a market even exists for your proposed idea. This can be tested through talking initially with trusted friends, family and professional peers, and further tested through market research and focus groups.
2. Who are the competitors of similar services or products? You need to know your competition; otherwise, you will be blindly entering into a business with insufficient knowledge of competitive threats. Your competition will...