Before you can open your doors for business, you need not only to put your legal house in order but also, make decisions about the words and visuals that will represent your business and mold its identity. As you get ready to create your business image, there are few tasks you need to have already taken care of such as:
- Determine how your business will be positioned in the market and your business' place in the field.
- Know your target market; who they are, where they can be found, and the best way to entice them to your business.
- Decide how you want your business to be perceived and experienced in the marketplace. It is your brand. While you decide what you're brand will be, how successful you are at creating the brand depends on your client and customers experience of your business.
- Complete a business plan.
- Consider the benefits and disadvantages of the available legal structure of your business entity could operate under and select the form of business that is best for you. Your options include sole proprietorship; partnership; limited liability corporation (LLC); C Corporation; or S Corporation. Most home business entrepreneurs start out as a sole proprietorship, but you need to know what the risks are before you do so.
- Obtain licenses, permits and zoning waivers as required by your city or county.
Establishing Your Business Identity
Once you've put in the foundation of your business, here are eight tasks to put your business into the world:
- Create a tagline or slogan for your business. You should have already created a business name. Now you want to come up with something catchy that tells of your brand promise or identify. For example, "Just Do It," is a slogan for Nike.
- Obtain address and phone numbers for your home business. If you don't want to use your home address; you can get a P.O. Box at the U.S. Post Office or a mailbox at a mailing store. You can get tax deductions on a second business phone line in your home or purchase a distinctive ring to separate business from personal calls. Having a business address and phone number gives a professional appearance.
- Apply for an Employer ID Number with the IRS. If you started your business under something other than a sole proprietor; you'll need to obtain an EIN. But even if you are operating as a sole proprietor, and EIN can be helpful. First, it's free, and it gives you a Federal number, so you don't have to use your social security. Second, you'll need it to open a business bank account.
- Open a business bank account. The IRS prefers that you keep your business expenses separate from your personal account.
- Create your business logo. A good logo goes a long way in establishing your brand and business identity. Your logo should reflect what your business does. It should be unique, eye-catching and easy to identify. You can use a free or low-cost logo maker, or hire a professional graphic designer.
- Order business cards. Many entrepreneurs are stingy with their business cards, but they're so affordable and easy to share. You should have a large stash and hand them out to anyone and everyone who is or knows a potential client. While you can print them at home, you don't want to use DIY if it can jeopardize your professional image.
- Create and order your business stationery. Depending on your business; you may not need stationery. Still, it doesn't hurt to have some for faxing or other correspondence. Your business card resource probably has an option for stationary, envelopes and return mail stickers or stamps.
- Establish an online presence for your business. It doesn't matter what business you're in, you should have an online presence. Today, most people go online and not the Yellow Pages to find businesses. Further, they use the Internet to learn about you and your products or services. Websites serve as a useful form of inexpensive advertising for most businesses. Even the most basic of websites can work well as your online brochure. You may also decide to set up a blog for your home business, either in conjunction with or instead of, a home business website. Also, consider a brand ambassador program.
You Have Your Business Identity, Now What?
Once you've taken care of the above tasks, you have tools and materials to share your business with the world. At this point, it's time to put them to use. Be sure to monitor how well they work because they're part of building your reputation and brand. Like you, your business is a living, breathing thing, and requires care and nurturing to ensure its success.