Small Business, Big Decisions

As an entrepreneur with various projects going on, I have found myself having to make a number of decisions that seem small and insignificant. Throughout the course of these decisions, I have realized that sometimes the slightest tweak in a name, a color, or a font, can have a remarkable effect on the perception of the business or project. Now, to a marketing professional, that might be old news. But, for the small-time businesspeople who are more focused on their craft, this could be valuable advice.

Here's some of what I have learned.

1. Be sure to pick the perfect domain name. At some point, any business, service, or project decides that a web presence is needed. This can be as simple as going to one of the main website building companies, signing up quickly, and throwing a website together. However, consider the importance of a domain name. According to NetRegistry, making a domain name too long is the number one mistake people make when choosing one. This can become a conundrum if you have a long business name, as I realized. Since my company encompasses the entirety of my name, I sat for a while before deciding on using my initials within the domain name (even still, it's a little long for my liking). Otherwise, my website address would have been upwards of five words!

2. Keep up with your website. This may sound like a no-brainer, but studies have shown that over half of small businesses don't have a website! While some more old-school small businesses pride themselves on new clients through word-of-mouth, there is still a benefit to an online presence. However, even if these types of business owners make a website begrudgingly, the tendency can be to treat it like a CrockPot: set it and forget. And this is not the right strategy. I have to stress: no matter how old-school your business is, you have to keep up with your website. In high school, I used to work at a small family breakfast restaurant. The kicker? The website is still the exact same today, complete with outdated prices. This looks unprofessional and gives a vibe about the business itself. A proper online presence is a must for businesses operating in 2016.

3. Think about the font you're using. Inevitably, businesses end up having to use writing, whether it be for invoices, marketing brochures, business cards, or flyers. Don't underestimate the importance of choosing a proper font. For example, for my students passing in important papers, I recommend Times New Roman, Iowan Old, or Garamond. The reality is, the words read differently--more academically--with a polished, literary font. If you have a child's craft making business, you will want a more whimsical font than if you have a pizza place. Think about it: what conveys the vibe that you want people to feel when they meet you or walk into your establishment? Font matters.

4. Decide what information you want for your Google listing. This one requires less explanation, but ensure that there are no address or phone number issues with your listing that pops up when a customer Googles you. Do you want to list your hours? Are your hours better suited to a website, if they are more sporadic? These are important decisions. If you don't have a listing or want to double check and amend yours, visit this help site provided by Google.

5. Pick some graphic standards. At this point, maybe you've hired a graphic designer for your logo, maybe not. When it comes to your business cards, receipts, invoices, and website, uniformity is king. It is worth it to hire someone to put together a logo for your business, and include precisely what colors were used. Then, you can match the colors for future marketing materials so that there is a clean image. We are all very visual and superficial when it comes to subtlety evaluating a business--think about how often we pick wine based on the label!