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25 Tips To Design Your Business Card And Make It Work For You

25 Tips To Design Your Business Card And Make It Work For You

Business cards are they key to presenting yourself in a good light, impressing important people and getting in contact with those who will further your career. If you think of designing your first business cards soon, or changing the design of those you already have, here are 25 tips to keep in mind.

1. Understand the purpose of the card

Whatever you do, the business card serves as a connection between your company and your customers. Anything beside that is an extra and should be approached as such. Make sure the main information is correct and well designed before jumping to colors and materials.

2. Clearly distinguish your personal taste from your brand

I may love pink flowers, but they have nothing to do with my writing style or consulting strategy. It might seem easy when you think about it, but you’d be surprised to see how much we lean towards what we naturally like and not what represents our company.

3. Do your research to avoid being the same as everyone in your field

Don’t be afraid of doing a little research before deciding on the design. Don’t think it will influence you to copy someone’s idea. You will be able to spot any trends going on in your field and this will prevent you from doing what everyone else is doing with their cards. Also, it might help you decide on things you want to include or elements that don’t fit into your vision.

4. Adjust the tone of the business card to the tone of your company

If what you do is funny or entertaining, then no one is expecting a boring card from you, unless you write on the back “This is so boring! Come see how we do fun!”. If you create things, then a handmade card would describe your work more than any words can. If professionalism is the core of you business, then go professional all the way.

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5. Put emphasis on the aspect you need the most currently

What is the most important thing regarding your business right now? Did you do a rebrand lately? Did you get upgraded from a specialist to CEO? Is there a new service you started to provide lately? Are there new branches added to the company or new shops opened? Maybe you changed your phone number or email. Or you really need to associate your name to the company. Think about what’s more important and make sure it’s reflected on the card.

6. Consider designing a series of cards

Think about muliple designs or colors, maybe a series with a story developing so they are collectable and exciting to receive. Pieces of a puzzle would also be a nice idea. For a more classic approach, treat the cards as your portable mini portfolio.

7. Don’t get quality and luxury mistaken

Quality is always luxury but luxury is not always quality. Think carefully when you go for fancy embosses or gold foils. If the company you run is about raw materials or living a meaningful life, then lean towards quality with minimal and clean cards. Unless you are 100% aware that everything in your card is in tune with your company’s policies and mission, don’t risk it.

8. Pay special attention to your logo

You can emphasize the company’s logo by placing it on the whole side of the card. This will help it being recognized and will serve as a cohesive visual for the business cards of other people working in your company. The more people see a logo, the faster they will recognize it (being designed well helps too).

9. Make sure to use the logo as the company name

If the logo of the company is the name of the company or includes it, make sure to use that and not the name in a random font. That way the connection to the brand is stronger. Imagine a Google card, with the name Google written in another font and in black. It would be harder (or maybe impossible) to connect it to the giant.

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10. Match the card to the company brand

If you are using colors, make sure they are the exact code of what is used in the rest of the branding material. Also, the overall style should reflect the same one used in every online presence of your company or work.

11. Test the printing quality

Before you invest in the final result, do a test to check the quality of the printing. Sometimes there’s too much black or dullness. You want to make sure things look sharp and clean. It’s a good time to double-check the colors too. Finally, test the ink to understand if it smudges easily or fades in sunlight, disappears under water or from rubbing.

12. Don’t use the same business card for multiple companies

It is very difficult to digest the information when two or more companies are in the same card, unless you want to show your relation to the companies. In such case, use only your name and an email or phone number, along with the companies’ logos. Spare further details to prevent the card from looking like a yellow page.

13. Use the back of the card

Even if you want a single side business card, you can take advantage of the back to put your signature or a handwritten note. A helpful idea is to encourage people to write something about you or how you met by having a couple of lines ready for them to fill in or a specific phrase like “How we met”.

14. Pick the right font

The font of your choice should be legible and neutral enough. Nothing sketchy or tacky should be in your card (unless that is your purpose). You can use 2-3 different sizes and strokes to create hierarchy in the text. Also make sure the numbers are not overlapping each other and are legible.

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15. Take advantage of the space

Don’t try to fill in the space, but see it as a tool to showcase the information. White serves as a great canvas, but any other solid color or subtle background can help enhance the text.

16. Choose materials wisely

Use the highest material and printing quality you can afford, but be aware of super bulky cards or ones that can easily be worn out. Use recycled paper if your company is well into the environmental industry. But don’t overdo it only to show that you are environment friendly or you’ll be mistaken for a recycling company. Same logic goes for wood, metal, glass, plastic or any other innovative material.

17. Consider the power of a hashtag

If you are on several social media, make sure to use the same hashtag on all of them. Including only one hashtag in the card will be much more effective and easier to remember than four different ones.

18. Use your work

If you do something innovative or a very specific service, you can incorporate a photography or illustration of what you do. Also, if your style is coherent and you’re famous for a specific thing, showcase that on all cards. Words can be used too, as long as you can express what you do in a couple of short sentences.

19. Use your own photo

There’s nothing wrong with putting your own photo on the card, as long as it brings something extra to the information and matches the theme of your work. It’s a good move particularly when you attend meetings and conferences or travel on a regular basis.

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20. Make it memorable

Whatever you do, you will want to make your business card memorable by including an extra something with it or telling a short significant story when you introduce your business. Stories and a nice attitude are much more likely to be remembered.

21. Don’t fall into the technology trap

Use technology only if it is accessible by your target audience. As a web design company you can use QR codes in your card, but as a florist you might not need it. The less you distance yourself from the audience, the more likely they will stick with you.

22. Approach your business from the future

What is one single thing you want people to immediately associate you with? Take a look at this meaningful poster of Michael Jackson. Use what you think is the most unique or strong feature of the company and highlight that. Just make sure it is something you already have and not what you think you do or wish to have some day.

23. Experiment with shape

Even if you belong to a non-creative industry, you might want to distance yourself from the competition by going with a non-classic shape. Squares, small rectangles and even circles are great to catch attention, but keep it small enough to fit into people’s pockets or cardholders. You might consider a foldable design too.

24. Choose objects that your company is directly connected to

Far away is the era of printing your logo on every commercial object available. Instead, choose a relevant everyday use object and transform it into your business card. Make sure the connection is direct and your company is specialized in that object/theme/industry.

25. Be creative all the way

If you want to be creative with your business card, make sure it’s so creative that everyone gets it and causes no confusion. Run a little test with people around you. Even if only one person doesn’t get it, you should not consider going with that idea, unless you’re aiming to reach a specific audience. Here’s a list of 30 creative business cards to understand what you have to compete with.

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Published on December 13, 2018

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

If you’ve ever thought about starting and running your own business, you’re not alone. Being your own boss, having flexibility with your schedule and keeping more of the financial rewards that come with business ownership are all good reasons to own your own company.

But as you might expect, it’s not all vacations and fat bank accounts. According to the SBA, 2/3 of businesses survive at least 2 years and approximately 50% survive 5 years.[1] So why is the failure rate so high? At least for the businesses that fail early on, lack of, or poor planning can be a major factor.

So how to start a company?

Starting a business from scratch doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, but it does take planning and work. Here are the first and most important 9 steps to take when your are starting a company from scratch.

1. Do an Honest Evaluation of Yourself

Do you work better in a structured or unstructured environment? Does a daily routine reduce your anxiety? What kinds of things are you good at? Does public speaking or making presentations make you nervous? Are you good at accounting and numbers? Can you handle the rejections you’re bound to get when selling or cold calling?

These are all important questions to ask yourself, in fact it’s a good idea to get other peoples opinion about their perception of you in each of these situations.

Whatever the answers you come up with for your evaluation, remember that’s all it is, an evaluation of where you are now. Think of it as a way to identify both your areas of strength and weaknesses.

You maybe good at public speaking which can help when raising money, but bad at accounting which just means that you’ll need to find some kind of help with that area of the business.

2. Evaluate Your Idea

If your business idea involves a new product or service (or even an enhancement to an existing product or service), it needs to be evaluated. This is technically called market research.

There are firms that specialize in doing market research for new products, but if you are on a tight budget, you can do this yourself.

First, if you can build a prototype for people to use, touch and look at that’s the best option. If a prototype is not possible or it’s a service business, then offer a highly descriptive presentation of the business plan complete with it’s unique benefits and how it’s different from the competition.

Then listen! Remember that this is not about others liking your product, this is not your baby that they are talking about. You want honest market research that gives you the best chance for a successful business. Take notes, when someone tells you that they didn’t like a feature or some aspect of your idea tell them ‘Thank you”.

After several rounds of market research with different groups of people, you should see patterns emerging about things that they both liked and didn’t like. Use this information to tweak your product or service and do another round of market research.

Keep in mind that you’ll never come up with a universally loved product, your job is to produce a product or service that appeals to the broadest range of your target market.

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3. Make a Business Plan

I know, I know this isn’t the “fun” part of starting your own business, but it is an very important step in creating a successful business!

Basically, you can think of a business plan as an outline or blueprint of your business. A good business plan should have the following elements:

  • Executive Summary – This should lay out the businesses product or service and the problem that it solves for the consumer.
  • Market Evaluation – This should talk about the market you are serving. Is it an expanding market, and how does your product better fulfill the consumers in that market.
  • Market Strategies – How are you going to penetrate the market and sell your product.
  • Operational Plan – How will the company run from day to day? Who are the key employees and what are their specific rolls. Do your key players have specific goals set for them in advance?

A final word on making a business plan: while lying is never acceptable especially when you are using the business plan to raise money, it is acceptable to “put your best foot forward”.

Playing up the positives while minimizing the negatives is almost expected in a business plan.

Besides, banks as well as professional investors will both do a more in-depth analysis before investing any money into your idea.

4. Decide on a Business Structure

You have many options here, and discussing them with your accountant or financial adviser is really the only way to know what’s right for you. But just to give you a quick rundown of the types of business entities and their pros and cons we will briefly go through them:

Sole Proprietorship

This is a common way for small businesses to get started.

The pros being:

Relatively low costs to set up (usually a business license and sales tax license).Owners normally do not have to set up a special bank account, they are allowed to use their personal one. Any income earned can be offset by other losses (check with your state!). You as the sole proprietor have complete control over all decision making. 

Finally, sole proprietorship’s are relative easy to dissolve.

The cons of using a sole proprietorship include:

You as the sole proprietor can be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the company. Some benefits, such as health insurance premiums, are not directly deductible from business income.

If you need to raise money, you are not allowed to sell an equity stake in the company. In that same vein, hiring key people maybe more difficult because you cannot offer them an equity stake in the company.

Partnership

A partnership is formed when two or more people decide to start a business. Although there is no legal requirement for any documentation to form a partnership, it is my advice that you never enter into a partnership without having a partnership agreement. (Remember, spending $1500 now can save you $150,000 in legal fees later!).

The pros of a partnership include:

Being relatively easy and inexpensive to start. Hiring key employees can be easier as you are allowed to give equity ownership to as many partners as you want.

For tax purposes, partnerships are relative simple as any income is treated as “pass through” meaning that each partner pays tax on their individual portion of the partnerships income (As of this writing, always check with your tax adviser).

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As far as the cons go:

It can be difficult for some general partnerships to raise capitol. Because it is a partnership, the actions of one of the partners can obligate the entire organisation. All profits must be shared according to the partnership agreement regardless of the amount of work done by any single partner.

Some employee benefits may not be able to be deducted on income tax returns.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

This is a very popular business entity for small to medium sized businesses. The reason for this is the cost of set up is not prohibitive and there is a separation between the owners and the company.

The pros of an LLC include:

Limited liability for the partners, unlike sole proprietorship’s and partnerships where the owners are held responsible for all of the companies debts and liabilities, an LLC provides some protection against certain debts and liabilities that are solely the companies.

Simple taxation, just like the sole proprietorship and partnerships, income is considered “pass through” and is only taxed once on an individual level.

There is no limit on the number of shareholders in an LLC. An LLC requires fewer fillings and administrative requirements than a corporation.

Corporation

A corporation is much more complex and expensive to set up. And a corporation is legally considered an independent entity that is separate from its owners.

The pros of a corporation include:

Complete separation between the owners and the company. Because the corporation is considered its own legal entity, owners can not be held personally responsible for any debts or liabilities of the company.

A corporation can raise capital much easier just by selling more shares in the company.

Cons of corporations include:

Much higher administrative costs than any other business entity. Corporations generally have a higher tax rate. Dividends are not tax deductible for corporations. Income paid in dividends is taxed twice, once by the corporation and again by the shareholder.

Again, this is just a short summary of the pros and cons, always check with your tax adviser about what will work best in your situation.

5. Address Finances

Again, not one of the “Sexier” parts of starting your business from scratch, but very important nonetheless.

So, you’ve done your business plan and an estimate of your start up funding should be included. It should include the amount of funding you’ll need to get you through your first full year of operations.

Now, how do you get that money?

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Self Funding

If possible, self funding is the easiest. You won’t have to go to banks and investors with hat in hand, or give up ownership or control of your company. But as we know, this is not a reality for most people. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of options available.

Friends and Family

They can be a good source of funding your business if they can see and understand your vision.

Remember that business plan? Pass them out to everyone you know. Then follow up, be prepared to tell them the total amount of money you expect to raise, the minimum investment you are looking for and what you will give in return for the investment.

For example, you give a friend your business plan and follow up with him/her a few days later. You can explain that you have secured funding for $80,000 of the $100,000 you need. You are selling a 2% share in the company for every $2,000 investment. How many shares would he like?

And when he/she tells you no, thank him/her and ask if he/she can think of anyone off the top of his head who might be interested? Tell him/her you really appreciate his/her time and if he/she does come across someone who might be interested to let you know.

Banks

These guys are happy to lend you money when you don’t need it, but all of the sudden they get stingy when you actually need a loan! This is where preparation comes in.

It’s a good idea to go over your business plan with an expert and maybe even have it rewritten by an expert before you approach either a bank or professional investor. Both will want to go over your business plan with a fine tooth comb, verifying all the numbers and data you provide.

You should also brush up on everything in the plan so that you can answer any questions they have with authority.

Crowdfunding

Finally, there is crowdfunding through sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Crowdfunding helps to build interest, community spirit, and a customer base. It’s also an efficient way to raise funds. You can take a look at these tips to find out more:

6 Crowdfunding Tips To Get Your Project 100 Percent Funded

6. Register with the Government

As stated earlier, different types of business entities have different filling and administrative requirements. At the very least, you’ll probably need a business license as well as a state sales tax license.

Unless you are forming a corporation, there are many good resources on the web that will do everything for you at a minimal cost.

7. Assemble Your Team

Remember when we evaluated your strengths and weaknesses? Here is where we fill in the gaps!

Do you hate sales and cold calling? Great! There are people who love selling and wouldn’t want to do anything else.

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Bored to death with accounting? There are a ton of small accounting firms out there that will take care of that for you.

What about marketing? You can hire someone in-house or out-source that too.

Your job is to keep on top of all the different aspects of the business to make sure they are all running smoothly and getting the results you need. If not, it’s your job to figure out the problem and implement a solution.

Check out this guide and learn how to delegate effectively:

How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

8. Buy Insurance

No matter what kind of business you start, you need insurance! Yes, I know, no one likes to buy insurance, but it can literally be the difference between having a minor inconvenience and declaring bankruptcy.

We live in a very litigious time, even a minor slip and fall at your place of business could bankrupt you without insurance. If you need help finding a good agent, check with your local trade organizations or fellow business owners.

9. Start Branding Yourself

Has anyone ever ask you for a Kleenex or a QTip? We all know what they are because of branding, Kleenex is just a brand of tissue and QTip is just a brand of cotton swab. It doesn’t have to be as widely known as Kleenex or QTip, but you can make your brand a common name within your niche.

I once owned a manufacturing company that developed a product that was so popular that my competitors started co-opting my brand name for their products.

If you aren’t sure how to kickstart branding yourself, check out these ways:

5 Ways to Build your Personal Brand & Make More Money

The Bottom Line

Starting a business from scratch can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have.

But do you know what’s even more rewarding? Having a business that succeeds, is profitable and provides a good source of income for you, your employees and their family’s.

More Resources About Entrepreneurship

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

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