Naming Your Business – Five Rules To Long-Term Success

What’s in a name? Quite a bit if you are starting a business. From cute to clumsy, serious to inane, business names can range from the ridiculous to the sublime. Perhaps starved for opportunities to be creative, some entrepreneurs seem to have the market cornered on how to blunder into what may be the single most important aspect of marketing genius: the name of the business.It never ceases to amaze me how people arrive at the names for their businesses. Many business people approach me after they have worked with their lawyers and accountants to set up the business, perhaps going the extra mile to incorporate and sometimes having also taken it upon themselves to design their own logo before realizing that it takes a little more talent to create a brand than some amateurish attempt at graphic design. I then have the dubious honor of taking the pooled efforts of these three dedicated professionals some of whom must have slept through business marketing to work with a sometimes problematic name they have agreed upon and create a logo or trademark which addresses the desperate need for a striking, definitive and effective professional image for the duration of its existence.Many people who start small businesses fail to consider that in the highly competitive arena of local marketing the name should quickly define what the business represents. This results in two problems: The name does not describe what the business offers; or, even if it does, it usually uses too many, or a misguided combination of words, to do so. And to make matters worse, this is usually after a false start with liberal spending to try to promote this new venture, based on an array of inept marketing decisions and the use of deficient marketing tools, a situation which makes it more difficult for me than starting from ground zero.Case in point: I recently was contacted by a relatively new organization who said they needed a marketing plan. Upon closer analysis, I learned that they had been running an ad in the regional newspaper of their geographic service area on almost a daily basis without reaping any response. In searching their industry via Google, I could not find any mention of their group within the first ten pages of results. Only after searching the name of the gentleman who had contacted me was I able to locate his name on a web page about this organization’s board of directors. Literally entering through the back door, I was able to find a link to their home page which upon observation reminded me of the incompetent ad which had been running in the paper I read every day but like everyone else, had ignored as irrelevant. Understandably, with a nebulous business name, poorly designed logo, non-existent ad message and busy, unprofessional presentation, it’s sad and ironic that this non-profit group offering a valuable service to senior citizens had so miserably wasted their limited funds by trying to do everything themselves to save money. And not one of the members of this in-house marketing group were able to detect any problems with this effort, too close to the forest to see the trees.Now, with resignation that a do-it-yourself strategy is not always the most cost-effective, the directors were surprisingly receptive to my suggestion that, while I expected resistance, perhaps they could consider a business name change at this early juncture in their organization’s history. Simultaneously, I also proposed that along with the marketing plan and name change, a new professional logo would logically follow in addition to a series of well-conceived ads they could use for promotion on a continual basis. As soon as their signed contract and project deposit arrives, I will undertake this challenge, since they now are anxious to proceed with sudden recognition and appreciation of their failed attempt at self-promotion.From the perspective of my long career, I assure you that this is a common phenomenon particularly in situations where marketing is done by “committee,” which tragically describes the majority of my clients: law firms, healthcare and dental practices, non-profit organizations, industrial and pharmaceutical companies, etc. And it doesn’t matter whether the business is large or small, or whether it is basically run by a single professional or a group of directors. In most cases, business leaders frequently lack the vision or self-confidence to make marketing decisions on their own, so they engage the opinions of everyone and anyone who surrounds them, regardless of competence to judge the subject. This means that my directives come from such diverse sources as teenage sons of clients, wives of clients, secretaries, summer interns, random customers of clients, anonymous emailed comments from websites, and other miscellaneous “experts,” all of whom emphatically express their views so I am well-apprised of how to do my job effectively.Of course, I am not so pig-headed that I cannot see the value of such input. On the contrary, I am grateful to know how this diverse universe processes information so I can evaluate every strategy as it is developed to satisfy every possible requirement. Whether anyone realizes that this method of marketing is fairly impossible to achieve is immaterial, since no one can ever measure every single response to marketing efforts anyway. The old axiom, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time” may apply, but you can’t blame a person for trying.Of the clients I have who do believe that there is one, and only one, way to effectively market their business, that way being their own personal way, based not on advanced study of business marketing, mass psychology, the elements of style or effective strategies of communication, but on nothing more than pure, unadulterated, self-centered ego. I say, hey, more power to them! It is their money they are spending and they certainly have the right to believe what they want to believe. Furthermore, marketing as part art, part science and part luck has as many guarantees as we get at the race track or in the stock market. So who am I to disagree with my clients’ convictions?Well, just for the record, I do chime in with my own opinions which are backed by 35 years of hands-on marketing experience which includes a successful career in marketing my own as well as my many successful clients’ businesses. If my opinion differs from that of one egotistical client, for example, it is enough that I have advised him of it regardless of his stubborn impulse to dismiss it and proceed with his own strategy despite what I think. He obviously has gotten to this stage of his illustrious career through his own navigational talents and distinctive intelligence so I do respect him and am not offended in any way by his belief in himself, above all.However, this places an enormous task on my shoulders: To market his business using a name that includes six long words, some of which are esoteric and industry-specific. This means that the logo, in addition to including a striking trademark must also be composed of six words totalling 42 letters. Add to that the need for a tagline, the entire package of which must be large enough to read in such small applications as on checks, on business cards, and in the smaller units the yellow pages offers both online and in print.Compare this with business names using one short word: eBay®, Google™, Yahoo!®, Microsoft®, Apple®, etc. Granted, some of these names do not describe what the business offers. But all of these are highly successful businesses nonetheless. How have they done this? By assigning ample funds to building their brands so that the name of the business needs no definition, it becomes its own word with its own meaning. Such is the power of successful marketing.You may say those businesses had the advantage of marketing their brands over the Internet but today, we all have that same advantage. Especially with the help of such brands as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube, all four being excellent examples of short, punchy business names which aptly define their raison d’étre. Most of the businesses that approach my company for marketing help are small businesses, sometimes with geographic limitations. Such businesses usually don’t realize how much time, money and repetition of effort is needed to build a brand.One of our competitors in the metro-New York market recently began airing a commercial to promote their business and invite response from the same market we serve. While I cannot mention the name of this business for legal reasons, suffice it to say that it is a short 3-word insult directed at the very market they are trying to attract. And, moments ago, I was scolded by a telemarketer who responded to my polite statement that his offer to sell my business did not interest me at this time with: “OK…go down with the rest of them!”Have I missed something? Are insults the new marketing strategy du jour? In both of these instances, injecting negativity, or worse, personal abuse into normally courteous business protocol, in my opinion, does nothing more than deliver a message of disrespect, insolence and humiliation to the very subject you are trying to endear.Having been raised by a mother who was 40 years older than I, I often heard old American colloquial expressions, a couple of which occur to me now: “You win more bees with honey than with vinegar” and “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!” In marketing, both of these sayings are powerful guides to proper business etiquette and by extension, long-term business success. While you may feel this is a milquetoast approach, the muscle is in a sincere and heartfelt delivery.How does that relate to naming your business? In a few ways which I will list as a random set of rules to follow:
1. The business name can be your biggest marketing tool if it defines what you are offering but is distinctive enough to stand out from the crowd.
2. Keep it short and sweet, but above all, memorable.
3. Accentuate the positive, with emphasis on value to the market you plan to target.
4. Don’t limit yourself too severely if you may need to branch out in the future.
5. Remember, you may want to protect your business name by registering a trademark, incorporating, or filing a dba (an alternate or assumed name registration for your business known as “doing business as”), so engaging a lawyer to conduct a valid search may be necessary, which could require a list of suitable possibilities rather than one lone choice of name.With all of the above in mind, it is of utmost importance for you to realize that whatever you end up calling your business, it will be one item in a long list of vital components which together will work cumulatively to establish your business as the success you desire. That is the bottom line.

Start-Up a Business by Buying a Business – ‘Real Life’ Practical Advice Shared

This is a quote from Ray Thomas who started his own business by buying an existing one. He chose to buy a franchise resale for reasons you are about to learn. These are his first wise words of advice and ones that are valuable to anyone thinking of buying a business as a way to start their own business, whether in the UK, North America or anywhere in the world.”When buying a business, check and recheck your ‘due diligence’ there’s always something that you miss, something that’s not obviously apparent when you first start negotiations – don’t rush -take your time to understand the business you’re buying into”Ray was very careful in his choice of business. He took the buying process step by step over a number of months. He would like to share this experience, captured in these key points with you.• Choose a business that relates to your commercial experience and your own business skills
• Buying a franchise resale has a number of benefits. Two of these are the training and support you’ll receive from the franchisor; another is acquiring a going concern with an existing customer base
• Get the latest trading figures to see how the business is performing and whether any circumstances have changed since the business was valued for sale.
• Check the customer base to check the number of active and dormant accounts
• Examine the customer profile to see how the business is spread between accounts – if the business is reliant on one or two accounts, the loss of these accounts could dramatically damage your future income.
• If possible, agree a hand-over period in which the previous owner introduces you to the client base and explains the ‘back-office’ systems and day-to-day running of the business.
• Make a generous provision for working capital to cover running costs – and keep an extra financial contingency for the unexpected.To understand Ray’s story here’s some interesting background. Ray trained as a mechanical engineer. This gave him a career long ability to discipline his thinking and develop his analytical and organisational abilities. His outgoing personality and communication skills came into play as he moved into sales. Over time, he became a regional manager with a multinational company, firstly looking after the South West then extended his territory responsibility across to Wales and up as far as Birmingham.As demands increased without a commensurate increase in his salary package, Ray started to explore opportunities where he and his family would receive a greater return for his efforts by becoming his own boss. He investigated a number of different business avenues and narrowed the options down to franchising. The question was whether to start from scratch with a ‘virgin’ franchise territory or to buy an existing operation. The other question was which franchise to selectAs Ray had experience of the motor trade, at one time being the sales manager of a chain of car dealerships, he examined a franchise involved with supplying garage workshops with tools and another specialising in bodywork repairs. He also explored franchises that were related to his more recent experience in the Health & Safety and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) sector. Finally he chose a business-to-business (B2B) franchise that specialises in the supply and servicing of cleaning and hygiene products.The franchise head office volunteered two start-up territories within reach of his Swindon base, and one resale franchise in Swindon his home town. Buying a resale franchise meant a higher investment but gave him a fully functioning business with an established clientele and an established reputation.The Purchase NegotiationRay contacted the existing franchisee and spent a day with him to find out more about his territory and customers. The franchisee wanted the business to be transferred to someone who would manage the business well and look after his existing customer base. He’d decided to emigrate to France as part of his own life plan.On closer inspection Ray saw the business had been losing sales and turnover had slumped in the last year. Another worrying aspect came to light. One customer was responsible for 50% of sales. If that customer withdrew his business the whole financial picture would change dramatically. These important factors demanded a revaluation and price renegotiation.A revised price was agreed and on 26th April 2010 at the age of 60, Ray Thomas became a business owner. A new, exciting but challenging chapter in his life had begun.Looking back, Ray would like to share these thoughts with you:• Put away those rose-tinted glasses when buying a business. They’re always things that are not immediately evident when first learning about a business, not because they’ve been deliberately hidden but more to do with your unfamiliarity with the business operation.• Try to identify the pitfalls – get expert help to review the company’s trading record and customer base.• Examine in fine detail the basis of any ‘goodwill’ attributed to the company. Remember that ‘people buy people’. It’s potentially dangerous to buy a business that has been built mainly on the ‘personality’ of the incumbent owner. When the business changes hands, customers may not want to keep their business with you.• Never rest on your laurels. Look for new business every day. It is inevitable that for one reason or other you’ll lose customers. You need to bring in fresh business to compensate for business lost.• Make sure you ‘over-deliver’ on the quality of service you provide. You may not be able to compete on price these days – but an attentive, professional service not only wins business but builds customer loyalty. You’ve heard the saying that some people ‘know the price of everything but the value of nothing’. Due to cost pressures customers do switch to get a better financial deal but often return when they realise they’ve forfeited quality, reliability and product performance.• Create a financial buffer to fund unexpected costs. For us, the rise in diesel prices has hit our van delivery costs. Unexpected events are another reason why you should grow your sales from existing customers and put time aside to contact and win new customers.

Modern Warehouse Construction Techniques

Warehouse construction contractors are increasingly designing multi-functional facilities that are safe and comfortable for users and aesthetically appealing. This translates to increased productivity, cost savings, enhanced corporate image and consequently, more profits. Choice of construction technique is therefore of essence during the planning phase of warehouse construction.Techniques Used in Modern Warehouse ConstructionWarehouses are often large structures that may require ample investment and time to complete. With modern construction techniques however, these structures can be put up cost effectively and in no time, an appealing aspect especially for businesses that need the space within the shortest time possible. Techniques such as pre-engineered buildings, prefabricated steel and tilt up construction buildings are durable, modern-looking and take a relatively short time to complete.Prefabricated Steel BuildingsThe components used in prefabricated steel construction come as complete kits from the manufacturer. These are then set up according to the design of the building within a short time to complete the structure.Many commercial applications such as warehouses, hangars, call centres and garages are constructed using this technique. Because the materials allow a lot of flexibility, this technique is ideal for warehouses that store goods requiring both enclosed and open space or extremely high rooftops to allow easy movement of huge consignments.Post-Frame ConstructionAlso known as timber framing, this technique uses engineered wood frame system. Wood columns and posts are implanted in the ground or mounted onto a concrete foundation. Other framing components are then attached to create a framework onto which other components such as the wall girts and roof are attached. The sturdy wooden columns support the rest of the framing components to create the building.Post-frame construction is a light-weight, flexible, sustainable and cost effective technique used in many modern commercial and residential applications including warehouses and others such as convenience stores, garages, strip-malls, office complexes and many others. The wood frames can support a variety of materials for interior finishing and exterior facade including brick, stone, steel and vinyl among others. This gives the owner a wider choice regarding the finishing.Tilt Up ConstructionThis technique is popular in the US and is commonly used for commercial applications. It basically involves constructing wall panels horizontally and then mounting them up in place on a concrete slab foundation. Footings attached all around the slab are used to secure the wall panels in place.The wall panels are created by first constructing a mould from pieces of wood that are joined together. The dimensions of the mould determine the size of the wall panels and openings are left on the wall panels for doors and window installation. Once the mould construction is complete, concrete is poured in and left to cure.The moulds are then removed and the concrete wall panels are tilted up and positioned in place on the foundation by a crane. The panels have embeds attached to them that secure the panel to the footing. Finishing is then applied to complete the structure. Tilt-up construction is relatively quick. Experienced contractors can erect as many as 30 panels in day.