Build an Expensive Bank: Business Cards and First Impressions

August 4, 2011

11:30 am

This blog post is by guest author Michael Harris.

You may be seeking VC capital, an angel investor, or business partners. At some point, the person on the other side of the table will ask for a business card, and they will instantly assess you and your company based on that 2 x 4″ piece of paper.

In the late 1800’s as US towns cropped up, you needed trading posts, hotels, bars, and banks. Unlike the other institutions that made up a town, banks stood out for their lavish columns, marble, and intricate woodwork. It would take them years to recoup the costs to build such lavish buildings.

As the budding entrepreneur that you are, you may think, “If I lived back then I would build a cheap building but offer better rates and gobble up all the business.” However, you would quickly find that wouldn’t work. Why? Because when customers saw an expensive building they knew it was there for the long haul. Would you want to put your money in a bank that sprung up overnight (and may as quickly disappear the next day with all your hard-earned cash)?

The same goes for your business card. Spend the time and effort to create a design that will represent your company, purchase quality card stock, perhaps go for rounded corners – do whatever it takes to make it look like you spent a mint on those cards.

I was at a meetup this past week and discussed possible business opportunities with another attendee. When he handed me his business card, folded-in-half on 80lb (at best) card stock that looked like it had been printed from his home inkjet, that was the end of that.  It sported a pixelated logo, childlike combination of too many colors, and poorly formatted text that was difficult to read.

If this is how he represents himself I wanted no part of him representing me. What did that card say about his attention to detail, financial situation, professionalism, style, and even taste? It’s easy to get caught up in the details of your business plan, start up aspirations, etc, and forget about that one small piece of paper that you hand out to people that will, for better or worse, leave a strong impression.

When it comes to your business cards, build an expensive bank, go for the marble treatment and give people the right impression.

For inspiration, and to see critiques of others business cards, check out Your Cards Suck and Creative Bits.

Guest blogger Michael Harris writes about leadership, technology, and entrepreneurship at his blog, Michael Ryland.  You can follow him on Twitter at @MichaelRyland.

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