There are 4 things every business needs to be considered a “real” company.  Those 4 things are: business cards for all employees, a domain name, company branded email addresses for all employees and a website.

Business Card
A business card is an extension of the individual.  As such, you want your business card to be a reflection of your employee and your company.  It should be easy to read so watch the small print and color choices.  It must contain the person’s name, title, work phone number and email address.  It may contain a logo, a tag line for the company, cell phone number, and business address, but watch how much you put on it…more content means small print.  Some people use the back to list a variety of things; i.e. products, services, target clients, current clients, a larger image of their logo, etc.

Domain Name
In order to have branded email addresses and a website, your business needs to have a domain name, sometimes called a URL.  A domain name is a recognizable name for a numerical address on the internet.  It is sort of like your postal address.  It points to your company on the internet.  Choosing a domain name is very important.  Choosing the right domain name is a real science.  I could write an entire article on how to choose the right domain name.  Briefly, a domain name like “XxxLegalServices.com” is better than “XxxLLC.com”.  Xxx Legal Services clearly states what the business does.  Also, get multiple versions of your domain name so that some other company can’t come along and use something which is too close to your name.  There are many companies that register domain names.  Be careful choosing the vendor registering your domain name.  Some are better than others and offer more free services with your domain name.

Email Addresses
Each of your employees need a company branded email address.  Having an email ending in “@hotmail”, “@gmail”, “@aol”, etc. just gives the wrong impression.  Your email addresses should always end in your registered domain name.  For instance: companyname@comcast.com says something different from johnsmith@companyname.com.  Company branded email addresses increase the way people view the credibility of your company.  Many domain registrars now offer a free or low cost email account with each domain name you register with them.

Website
Finally, your company needs to have a website.  Unless you are selling goods or services on line or you are a graphic designer, it does not have to be flashy.  It needs to be a place where current clients and potential clients can find out who you are as a company.  The first thing potential clients do is check out the business’s website.  Having a website may not increase your business, but not having one will decrease your business.  If you don’t have a website, there is a greater chance they will choose to do business with a competitor that does have a website.

Just a Hint:
If you have more than 1 business, do not have a website for each business.  That just dilutes your message, is harder to maintain, and may hurt your ranking by the search engines.  Instead have 1 website with as many sub-areas as the businesses you have.  You can always have domain names which point to each of your sub-areas on your website.  If you do it this way, you should always have a link up to your main website so that you can do cross marketing of your various businesses.

Final Thoughts:
You say, but “I can’t afford it right now”.  What you can’t afford is to lose business because you don’t have the basics for your company.  These are just other necessary business expenses.  Now days, you can print your own business cards so the only expense is the business card stock and the ink for your printer.  There are ways to get your domain name, website, and your branded email addresses for under a hundred dollars or less.  Once your website is up, the annual cost goes down.  So even though the economy is rough, you need to take the time now to make sure your company has the basic requirements for every business.  Then when the economy starts to recover, you will be ready for the increase.  During hard times, it is more important than ever to invest in marketing and branding your company.


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First Published July 16, 2009

The Four Things Every Business Needs

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