If you’re really ready to start your business consider these four branding tips:
1. Consider a name other than your own.
Many people starting their own businesses are setting up one-person consulting companies. In this context they will be getting most of their work based on their own reputations. In fact, they may even get work from their previous employers. However, it’s best to start thinking of your business as something more than just yourself.
When I started my design firm I didn’t just say Emily Brackett, Graphic Designer. I even went beyond Brackett Design. I came up with a name of an entity—Visible Logic—that is more than me (even though it started as a sole propietorship). Your business name allows you to built a brand that is bigger than just you, and gives you more room to grow.
This can be especially helpful when you make sales calls. Rather than saying “This is Amy Smith” you can say “This is Amy Smith of ACME Computer Consulting.”
2. Make an investment in business cards and a web site that are professional.
These days you don’t need a lot of costly, printed materials, but you do need business cards and you need a web presence. With these two elements you are already beginning to build the look of your “brand” so put real thought into it, invest in it (either with your own time, or in hiring a professional), and most importantly make things consistent.
3. Once you make the commitment to a name and the seeds of a brand, don’t change them.
Knowing this, don’t start passing out business cards until you have decided on your business name and how you want them to look.
4. Are you in this for real?
Many people dabble with starting a business, but really they are hoping to land a full-time job. Therefore, if you truly want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you don’t want to look like one of those folks. A prospective client deciding to partner with another “company” doesn’t want that other “company” to suddenly become unavailable between 9-5 Monday-Friday. I think this is another good reason to find a name other than your own (see #1), it shows that you are really in the game.