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In the age of the digital revolution, physical real-world marketing remains as important to business success as it ever was.

We still want to do business face-to-face, so we network. We still want to attract new customers locally, so we promote and we still want to create a strong brand that takes a big share of the industry marketplace…

For that, business stationary marketing materials are a solid foundation on which to build your brand.

Often this kind of marketing collateral is the first formal encounter a person will have with your business, so making a strong first impression matters.

It also pays dividends to present a quality, professional image of your business from the get-go, even if it’s just you working alone, and yes, even before you have official office space!

There are also a host of practical reasons why this is good practice; from the fact that a branded business card is more likely to be kept and found than a scrap of paper with a handwritten phone number on it, to the fact that an invoice on branded stationary is easier to spot in an in-tray pile than a blank piece of paper.

Creating Branded Artwork

The obvious initial challenge in designing your business stationary is the creation of a company logo. You should look to hire a professionally-designed piece that uses colour, style and messaging to communicate what you do and who you are to new audiences. A low quality design or an amateur effort will do more harm than good so it’s worth investing in.

Likewise, if you’re opting to include text, while it can be tempting to try to be unique, make sure it’s easily legible or the message will be lost on people. The use of white space is another useful tool in maximising your marketing collateral because a busy page will simply be skimmed over and, again, the message will be lost.

With the digital arena in mind, regardless of your industry, you may likely need alternate versions of your logo, such as a square cut to allow for social media profile photo uploads, or longer logos with accompanying strap lines plus contact details on letter heads for example, so it’s recommended that you create a suite of these variations that can be used across your materials.

With so many online marketing options now and the ability for staff to create their own leaflets and social profile designs, it’s best to create your business style guide while you are developing your branded materials. This is basically a guidelines document for how people should use your logo, especially those outside your organisation, explaining how to position it, whether the colours can be changed or telling people not to change the size or distort the dimensions.

The idea is to create consistency, maintain brand reputation and keep things simple, because it is this constant repetition that will help your brand to resonate with everyone who sees it.

Consider Your Audience

Make sure to focus your business stationary designs on the end audience – who are you making them for? What will they appreciate? What message do you want to convey to them? Are there any important elements to consider, such as offering materials in larger print for seniors or people with sensory disabilities?

If you need to keep printing costs down but need to grab the audience’s attention, think of other ways to stand out, such as using coloured paper or branded envelopes for your written communications.

Next, you need to think about what information is vital to include on the stationary materials. You clearly want to direct people to the right source should they have a response, a question or feedback in general. Contact details are therefore important, but so too might a tax registration number be on invoices for example, as well as a business postal address.

While the messaging and overall tone of your branding is important on your business stationary, so too are the materials you use, because they will also communicate meaning. Will your audience appreciate a higher quality material such as gloss laminate, or do you work mostly with the not-for-profit sector who would view that as wastage, or intimidating, and would prefer to see recycled materials, as an example?

If you have a more generic audience, the advice would be to opt for the highest quality materials your budget will allow.

Top Tips:

Business Cards

While many modern business owners are on LinkedIn for their own networking, and may well have a social presence for their business online, such as a Facebook Page, business cards bring the personal touch. They’re a cost-effective marketing tool that means you always have a professional contact card easily to hand whenever an opportunity arises.

It’s a really good idea to incorporate more of your digital marketing into this particular product to maximise your connection opportunities and grow your online audiences simultaneously. That means signposting people to your website and profiles online, as well as your email and phone contact details.


Branded notepads present a professional image when you use them yourself in meetings or at events, but are also an excellent gift-type marketing product. When left with existing or potential clients they are almost always kept, because of their utility, meaning your brand remains quite literally “under their nose” much longer than any email or conversation would.

Notepads are often used for brainstorming, at meetings where procurement is being discussed or at planning sessions. This makes them a prime area to really sell your business and, with the added space available, you can include more than just your logo. Think about including a short testimonial quote from a client in the bottom corner for example, providing that extra social proof.


As with notepads, desk pads and wall calendars, pens are a really practical marketing tool that keeps your brand front of mind for as long as they last (which is usually pretty long). Branded pens are a cost-effective gift that can be put into deal-closing information packs, left on front desks and given to event delegates.

The small space requires you to be succinct in the marketing message, though, so think of the prime channel you want to direct people to – such as a website or phone number – and focus the design on that. Also steer towards black ink, which is more often required on official business documents than blue ink!

Letter heads

Branding who you are and what your business represents isn’t just about the obvious sales marketing tactics, it should ideally filter down through every interaction you have with external stakeholders, including the mundane printed communications like invoices or letters.

For legal reasons it’s advisable to use branded letter heads on things like employment contracts but it also creates a formal tone on all your documentation. If you want to try a design that’s a bit different to the usual right-top-corner-logo, think of using a large watermark design that fills the page, or geometric coloured shapes around the page within which you can set the text.

About the Author are an online trade printing company based in Northern Ireland, operating a 24-hour factory with 5-colour printing that produces high quality, quick turnaround products for small entrepreneurs to big corporations across the UK and Ireland.


As lucrative as it can be, trading internationally brings a whole new level of risks and challenges. Therefore, if you want to ensure your business and its customers and clients are protected, you’re going to have to take numerous preventative measures.

To help, here, you’ll discover the best ways to protect your business when trading internationally.

Being aware of counterfeit goods

Counterfeit goods are a growing problem for international businesses. While you may associate counterfeit items with purely fashion and jewellery products, research shows many businesses are falling victim to counterfeit software, food and even aeroplane parts.

So, what harm do counterfeit goods have on a business? Well, if you’re advertising high-quality, genuine products and it turns out they’re fake, it’s going to have a serious impact on your reputation. If customers find out, you’re going to need to give refunds, and in serious cases, you could even be taken to court.

So, it’s vital you check your stock to ensure it’s 100% genuine and you aren’t unknowingly selling counterfeit goods.

Choosing a reliable courier

It’s never been more important for businesses to ensure they’re using a reliable courier. However, for international traders it’s even more important; particularly if you’re sending important documents abroad.

If the documents were to get into the wrong hands, again it could have serious consequences for your business. Therefore, it’s vital you use a reliable and secure courier to transport important documents.

You’ll also want to ensure the courier company can deliver documents and parcels quickly. So, look for one which offers a fast delivery service, as well as reliable one.

Be aware of the scams currently circulating

There’s a lot of scammers who target international businesses. Be especially wary of investment opportunities presented to you, along with phishing emails. The latter are becoming increasingly complex and are designed to steal your businesses information including passwords and banking details.

To prevent cybercrime, never click on a link provided in an email unless you can confirm it’s from a reliable source. You should also make sure your computer is protected with the latest security software and you store all of your customer’s details securely.

Overall, there are many risks international businesses face, but the above are some of the best ways to combat the potential problems. Making sure your IT systems are secure and you’re choosing reliable suppliers is a must when you’re dealing with international trade.


When it comes to starting and running their own businesses, women simply shine. You probably know a number of successful female entrepreneurs whose stories would provide anecdotal evidence to back this up, but it turns out that there’s actually some science behind the claim, too.

What is it about women that makes them so well-suited to the challenge of entrepreneurial ventures? They tend to be optimistic yet realistic. They aren’t ego-driven and can admit failure — meaning that it’s easier for them to pivot and change course, or to abandon a plan altogether if it’s not working out. However, they’re also perseverant, and will learn from their mistakes, so that subsequent ventures will be more successful.

Then there’s the proverbial “women’s intuition.” Turns out that’s a real thing — female business owners are able to use subtle cues to size up a situation on the fly, and to make better decisions — even if those decisions defy traditional business logic.

Similarly, women appreciate creative approaches to the everyday problems of running a company, and take smart, calculated risks. They consider the input of their colleagues are are less likely to dismiss suggestions out of hand, even when those suggestions are radical or unorthodox.

Men’s egos can sometimes work as blinders, and they can become invested in a business to the point of stubbornness. It’s something of a cliché that women struggle with work-life balance and “having it all,” but in fact women are often more able to find equal fulfillment in their many roles: mother, wife, artist, businessperson.

They can be intensely passionate, and don’t generally begin a business simply to make a quick buck. Rather, they truly believe that the products or services their company offers to the world are valuable and will help others. Women also take a long-range approach, and can ride out the tough times with their eye on future rewards.

Women are good at negotiating, because they understand the true value of compromise and don’t see negotiations as battles that must be won at all costs. They give respect where it’s due, and demand respect in return.

Their communication skills, too, help them be direct and to-the-point, but with the empathy and compassion that build long-lasting professional relationships. And they’re naturally good at networking. This means finding common ground with the people they meet and striving to build and maintain connections that will benefit both parties.

Lastly, women excel at integrating the skills they’ve acquired throughout their life — in school, in their previous positions, in their personal lives, even raising children — into their approach to doing business. In other words, they have the “street smarts” and life skills that rival the formal education provided by an MBA.

Thinking about starting your own business, or maybe investing in a franchise opportunity? If our infographic rings true, and you can recall times when you exhibited these qualities, then you might make an excellent entrepreneur!

Author Bio
Marsha Kelly is a serial entrepreneur, after doing “time” in corporate America, who has learned about what products and services work well for entrepreneurs who want to start a business. You can learn from my experience and my associates as we shop from the internet for tools, supplies and information to build our businesses and improve the lives of our family and ourselves at her small business blog


4 Steps in Making a Group into a Team

Posted by Pamela Swift in Teamwork

Article Contributed by Sia Hasan

Working together as a team at work can be the missing element your workplace needs to be a more efficient company. As a team, you’ll notice more productivity and positive thinking amongst coworkers due to the needed support amongst each other. Build up a team at work can help accomplish tasks that are long overdue or need more than one head at work to get it done. However, even though establishing teams at work can take cooperation, patience, and dedication, you’ll notice respect among your workers and a balanced atmosphere in the workplace on a constant basis to improve workflow.

  1. Explain the Benefits of Working Together

Meeting with your group and explaining what each person’s roles are can help increase productivity and motivation. One of the best ways to keep track of everyone’s roles and responsibilities is by using workflow management software. However, you should also ask for each team member to voice their own input on how to make your group more effective on a regular basis.

It’s important that you explain to your team how they benefit the company as a whole. Explaining how each member can contribute to the success of the business can help keep the team connected, positive, and productive.

  1. Lay Out Your Team Goals

Setting goals in place are a great way to help your team finish a project before a set deadline. Make sure that each team member knows what their role is in a project to help reach a goal in time. However, it’s wise that you put forth achievable goals to prevent stress or irritability among your team members if a goal is not reached in time.

When laying out your team’s goals you should talk to each person individually, as well as in a group, to make sure everyone is on the same page. This will help smoothen the workflow and allow you to get individual input on finishing the goal in time that you can share with the whole team. However, you should also plan routine meetings such as informal luncheons to help improve social connections among your team.

But, just as important keeping connections strong among your team, you should also ensure a reward that your group will be presented when they reach their goal. Although this can be anything, we suggest that you make it a team reward that they can share amongst each other.

  1. Learn to Respect Each Other

There are different levels of respect that your team members may feel for each other. While the group members may tolerate each other, for the good of the group, they must learn how to hold each other in high regard. This is the way to bring your team to the next level. Prioritize this type of high respect. Remember that respect is gained, it cannot be forced.

With respect, your team will be able to communicate with each other much more easily about business topics. Respect also means looking out for each other’s best interests and celebrating the successes of others.

  1. Communicate Effectively

This goes right along with respecting each other, as you cannot communicate well when there is no respect. The two aspects are intertwined as they both depend on the other. Respect is built on great communication and communication leads to deeper respect.

Communication is a skill and like all skills, it must be practiced and honed. This is one of the most important skills a person can have in the business world, but especially when working with others. This skill reaches across all aspects of business and will help you whether you manage rentals, do direct sales, or run a restaurant. This is the reason why it is so crucial for all team members to work on communicating effectively and courteously.

The key to maintaining any good relationship is open and honest communication, whether it be business or personal. Without communication, there are bound to be misunderstandings, resentment, and a lack of productivity. Each team member should work on building their communication skills. The team leader should also take it upon themselves to help any employee who is struggling with their communication.

Article Contributed by Finnegan Pierson 

You may think that a small business is fundamentally different than a large one, but this isn’t entirely true. Small businesses have to do many of the same things that larger businesses do, only with fewer employees. Obviously, this means an entrepreneur has a number of problems to overcome that a larger business might handle with ease because of its much bigger staff. This is particularly the case when it comes to scheduling, achieving scalability and having the necessary skill sets to do all of similar processes. One solution many businesses turn to is automation.

Benefits of Automation

Automation can be used by small businesses to greatly simplify processes and to relieve staff from having to carry out monotonous and difficult tasks or exhausting manual labor. For example, an automated warehouse can help a business reduce costs and ensure that items are safely stored and delivered efficiently. The more you can introduce automation in your small business, the more time you can spend planning, networking, marketing your business and interacting with your customers.

The Sooner the Better

The earlier you start implementing automation as an entrepreneur in your small business, the quicker you’ll be able to enjoy its many benefits, including greater efficiency and reduced operation costs. Obviously, as busy as any entrepreneur is, you may be wondering whether it’s really worth the time and expense – especially given all the other things you need to focus on daily. But below is a list of just a few ways that automation can help your small business:

Scalable Processes

The entire point of automation is that it repeatedly carries out a preset series of automated actions without much direct human intervention – with the result of these actions being the same each time regardless of how many times the sequence is performed. This means that scalability is very easily achieved using an automated approach, since the outcome will be the same whether you produce 10 widgets or 1000.

Increased Efficiency and Speed

Instead of wasting all day on relatively menial tasks – from sending out email marketing to checking on inventory and the paying bills – an entrepreneur can take advantage of software or online services designed to entirely automate these processes. Doing this in your business allows you to get the benefits of a vast supply of available automation tools without having to reinvent the wheel yourself.

Reduced Operating Costs

Yes, you do have to spend money to automate your business. But if you implement automation correctly it can quickly pay for itself many times over – so it’s better to think of it as an investment. The key to effectively introducing automation is to fully examine your operations by considering your current and future needs. Then you can decide which specific types of automation can give you the best return on your investment.

More Effective Time Management

Implementing automation and your small business removes a number of lower-level tasks from you or your employees so that you – and they – can focus on the important matter of expanding your business. After all, establishing relationships with customers and suppliers and creatively planning for the future of your business is how you should be spending your time. Automation can easily handle any number of day-to-day, time-consuming tasks.

Final Thoughts

Applying automation to your processes can help eliminate waste in your organization. It can also take over repetitive tasks and clunky difficult to perform procedures best done by machine. Automation can give a small business the edge it needs to be able to compete with other small businesses, as well as much larger operations.

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