by Steve Olenski
It’s been a part of the American dream, since the days of Benjamin Franklin’s printing business, to own and operate your own business. Nearly quarter-of-a-million Americans take the plunge each year, writing out their business strategies and getting the seed money and/or loans for their startup secured.
How much thought have you given to your branding options? Do you have a logo in place already? The communication function of brand managing, especially now in the age of social media, can be tricky if you don’t have professional help and advice.
According to Titus Sharpe, CEO of Expert Market, you need professional help most from a business resources clearinghouse website. Such services provide access to the kind of brand management you need to link your product or service in the public mind with quality and integrity. Since they bring vendors to you, there is no fee involved on your part, and you get to pick and choose the services you think will be the best fit — down to even what kind of coffee machines to have in the break room.
While you’re at it, here are a few more tips and pointers, provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration:
- Double check the legal status of your logo. The days of the Lone Gun battling it out by himself or herself in the Wild West of business are long gone. Chances are you will have a partner, either active or silent, and that you are accountable for the marketing brands you either invent or buy from a brand manager. It’s surprising how often price and packaging are misunderstood by potential clients when the branding process is handled poorly or inappropriately.
- Before you actually hire employees in marketing and branding, make sure you understand and have access to professional and competent advice on all the legal scaffolding necessary in your state for employing an advertising agency or branding organization. Two of the most common mistakes are not allowing for what you’re expected to provide up front for workers’ compensation, and how to handle health insurance. This will all depend on whether you are hiring your marketing team as full-time employees or as consultants, and whether they will work in an office environment or telecommute. The government deadline for employee open enrollment is March 31, 2014. If you are still in doubt about what to do, as an employer, you can call their business hotline at 1-800-318-2596.
- Is your business a franchise? If so, your logo and marketing are pretty much all taken care of — but wait. Did you know many franchises now allow local branches to have their own individual meme? In Wisconsin, for instance, the Dairy Queen franchise owners have opted to include an exclusive “Cheesehead Burger” figure into their menu, in honor of the Green Bay Packers football team. This has given the food side of their menu a tremendous boost, so patrons now go to a Wisconsin Dairy Queen as much for the Cheesehead Burger as for the famous ice cream products.
- Finally, never sign a long-term contract with a marketing or publicity firm. Even though you can usually get a better deal by signing a long-term agreement, statistics show 88 percent of all new businesses change their advertising agency within the first six months; if you’re trapped in a long-term agreement, you may have to pay through the nose in order to get out of it.
If you do decide to start your own business this year, I wish you all the best of luck.
*This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.
Steve Olenski was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred. Steve is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading marketing cloud software and services company. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book “StumbleUpon For Dummies.” He can be reached via LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter @steveolenski or at the nearest coffee shop.