Creating a Business
by Lisa M. Roberts
For the first time in over five years,
I am immersed in one of my all-time favorite home business projects:
designing a business identity. I used to offer this service to
others on a regular basis, back when my home business involved
direct client contact. Typically, a prospective or regular client
would meet with me to describe their entrepreneurial ideas and
goals. Often all they brought with them was a business name.
Turning that name into an "identity" was my job.
A good number of you who are
members of EP have "pending" listed as your
business name. To me this implies that you're still exploring
your home business options and have not settled on a type of
business, no less a name, no less a "business identity."
Yet focusing on the end result -- the "face" of your
home career -- may help jog some ideas in place for you. While
I no longer offer this service directly to clients, I would be
happy to share some tips that can help you along your work-at-home
career path on your own.
- Just like individuals, businesses
have "identities" -- a name, a look, a direction, a
history and a future. In business terms, they're called a company
name, logo, mission statement, bio and vision statement. When
developing a business identity, take five sheets of blank paper
and lay them out on a table, labeling each with the above five
components. If you are design-oriented, pick up the "logo"
sheet first and use it to start sketching out your business idea.
Or, if "I want to..." pops into your mind, then first
work on your mission statement -- what your business can offer
unlike any other -- until you have two to three sentences that
are sharp and clear. This entire process can take a work session
of a few hours, or it can go on for days. If possible, leave
the work station out until each sheet is complete.
- Together, the five sheets you
worked on in the above exercise will become the "face"
of your business. While each can be used separately for certain
marketing projects, the key to developing a recognizable company
image is to use them together as a unit. Also, stay uniform and
consistent when choosing your colors as well as your words and
graphics. Your company should be identifiable at a glance to
your prospects, your clients, and the business community at large.
- Consider how your "business
identity" will be used to spread the word about your business
to the public. For example, when deB and I moved The Entrepreneurial Parent to its own domain name and turned it
into an interactive online community this past fall, our "business
identity" was entirely Web-based. There was little need
for print material like brochures, rate sheets, etc. Even our
letterhead and business cards were of little import, since most
of our interactions with others were online. However, presently
deB and I are working on developing the "business identity"
for the "National Association of Entrepreneurial Parents"
(NAEP). Since NAEP will extend beyond the Internet community,
we need to develop print communications that are standard in
the "real-time" business arena.
- TEST MARKET
- Once you have a "look"
that you're excited about, find ways to test the whole concept.
First share it with family, friends and relatives to solicit
feedback. Then introduce it to colleagues and other business
contacts. Finally, bring it straight to the market itself and
see how it flies...
- Lisa Roberts is the mother of four,
owner of The
Entrepreneurial Parent, LLC and the author of How to Raise A Family &
A Career Under One Roof: A Parent's Guide to Home Business
(Bookhaven Press, 1997). Copies of her book are available for
purchase at EP