It’s in the Mail: What Your Brand’s Packaging is Telling Consumer

In my recent infatuation with a startup software company, I discovered their new venture into creating physical products. Across all the products, the design was simple, utilitarian, yet sexy. Obviously, I was in love and quickly placed an order.

When I received the product in the flesh, I believed there had been a mix-up at the post office. The plain, brown packaging soiled the joy of finding the attractive product inside. Although I certainly loved the product, there was a certain injustice done to the beauty of the product and, ultimately, the brand.

Oftentimes people forget that the first experience a consumer has with the brand isn’t actually the product, it’s what holds it- which is why your brand’s packaging is so important. As much as we all try not to judge a book by its cover, there is a reason why the saying exists: because we naturally do. When looking at your product, ask only one question: “How will the customer feel?” If the answer isn’t the one you’re looking for, then perhaps it’s time for change.

Here are the two things you need to concentrate on to package the perfect product:

Focus on the Message

If your packaging hasn’t been updated in awhile, there is a good chance that it suffers from information overload. Potential customers today have a new baseline for content attentiveness, one that is much lower than most companies would like. When considering options for a redesign, focus on one core message that should be crystal clear from the packaging. Reducing content allows consumers to immediately connect with the intended message without having to visually search through useless clipart or obvious text.

An added benefit of converting the message into imagery alone not only brings clarity to the product, but makes international appeal a seamless process. Famous brands like Starbucks have already made this adjustment by relying on their logo for universal recognition, rather than having English words limit their brand. Although this approach might feel risky or vague, trust your brand enough to let it draw attraction on its own accord.

Craft the Experience

When Steve Jobs designed the iPhone packaging, some questioned his characteristic obsessive nature as he scrutinized over how fast the bottom would separate from the top cover. While such measures may be extreme, the genius was in crafting the experience for the consumer.

The exhilaration from a purchase doesn’t end with the swipe of a credit card. The joy of something new continues with the unboxing that can only be compared to tearing the wrapping paper off a present. Humans are emotional creatures, and we love presentation as much as we do the item itself. Without it, the overall impression of the brand sours. Take the time to open current products and decide if the packaging presents the item with the magnitude it deserves or if the emotion is underwhelming.

Good design means being simple and honest with the customer. Showcase without overselling, and always keep the message razor focused. Remember that not all consumers are subjected to online content, which means in some cases the package itself is the first and only chance a company gets to make the right impression. However there is a reason why there are guidelines rather than “to do” lists for package design, because not every product needs to come out of an iPhone box. Stay true to emotional impact, and your customers will certainly feel what was intended.

A box is never just a box.

Hilary Smith is an online writer and business journalist from Chicago, Illinois. In addition to covering the many aspects that make a successful brand, her writing also covers entrepreneurship, small business, unified communications, and globalization. Connect with her on Google Plus today.

5 Real World Networking Tips You Can’t Do Without

How Quick Business Loans Can Encourage Business TurnaroundThere are two main levels of networking for the modern-day entrepreneur: virtual and real-life. While virtual ties have their own strengths, the strongest partnerships and the deepest trusts are still built in the real-world. That is why, as an entrepreneur, you should want to go beyond your virtual network and build stronger ties offline. Start your real-world networking today with the help of these tips: Continue reading

How to Crowdfund Legally

Limited Liability PartnershipStarting a new business is an exciting venture! That is, until the realization of just how much money you will need takes you down a few notches. Before you get too discouraged, know that you have several options available to you.

One of those options is crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is the process of raising small amounts of money from a large amount of people- this can be with the help of friends and family as well as people you don’t know. If you approach it correctly, attracting crowdfunding investors can be just what you need to get your business up and running, as long as you’re careful.

Now, the safest way to go about something that has potential legal implications is to know exactly what is allowed and what isn’t. Law enforcement has never taken “I didn’t know I was doing something wrong!” as a valid excuse.

So what should I steer clear of when crowdfunding? 

Promising Ownership

According to Biz Journals, a crowd funder may receive a reward for their donation once the company is up and running, but they cannot claim any ownership or financial gain in the business. For example, would-be authors can promise crowd fund investors copies of their signed books or acknowledgements for donations, but business owners can’t exchange equity for investments.

If you want to give away equity in exchange for funds, you need to work with accredited investors—people who make over $200,000 and have over $1 million in assets.

Forgetting about Taxes

The funds you get from your crowdfunding efforts are considered taxable income. Don’t forget that you must follow the federal and state tax laws you are subject to. If you plan to go the crowdfunding route, calculate taxes into your financial goals.

Breaking Promises

The typical crowdfunding effort is set up in a way that the person asking for funding promises rewards (not equity) to people who invest. Some crowdfunding sites use an all-or-nothing system where if a person reaches their goal, they keep the funding and must follow through on their promises. If they don’t reach their goal, the money goes back to the investors.

If you reach your goal and fail to follow through with your promised incentives, you could be considered in breach of contract. Unless you want to face a class-action lawsuit, follow through on any promises made during the crowdfunding process.

Where should I look for funding?

If you want to start a company or dive into a project that needs funding, sites like KickStarter or IndieGogo are useful mediums for making money. These have been especially great resources for artistic projects, such as publishing a book, starting a food truck, creating an art exhibit, or designing a new product.

Are there any other rules to keep in mind?

Crowdfunding is subject to rules placed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act- these rules are under constant discussion. As seen on Forbes, here are the rules you must follow if you plan on utilizing crowdfunding for your startup:

  • You can only accept up to $1 million dollars per 12-month period through crowdfunding.
  • If you are starting an investment company or a public-reporting company, you cannot use crowdfunding.
  • Crowdfund investors are only allowed to give a certain amount of money during a 12-month period. For investors who make over $100,000/yr., they can only give 10% of their income or net worth. For those who make less than $100,000/yr., they can only give up to 5% of their income (or up to $2,000, depending on which is greater).
  • You can only find crowdfunding through registered broker-dealers or “funding portals.”
  • You cannot advertise except to direct potential investors to your broker or funding portal.
  • If you complete a crowdfunding crowd, make sure you file the correct reports with the SEC.

The laws surrounding crowdfunding and business startups are complicated. To be absolutely sure you don’t cross any legal lines, talk to a lawyer who works with business law.

Originally from San Jose, California, Erika Remmington is a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley in linguistics with a minor in business administration. She enjoys spending her time with her husband and 18 month old daughter. She also enjoys rock climbing and outdoor activities. Legal information from this article was provided by Kitchen Simeson Belliveau Llp.

ABCs of Small Business Industry: B is for Business Services

This week we are looking at an industry very near and dear to MyCorporation – Business Services! This is a fairly broad industry, but essentially companies in it help other businesses. That could mean filing paperwork, providing tech support, processing data… the list goes on and on. Businesses helping businesses – what could be better? If you’re considering forming your own company in the business services industry, we’re here to help you out!

business services

Where do you start?

Since business services is such a broad category, it’s kind of hard to answer this question. At the very least you need a ‘Doing Business As‘ name, and should consider filing for an Employer Identification Number. You’ll also need to have all your permits and licenses in order. Unfortunately the ones you need really depend on what other industries you fall into. A tech support company, for example, would need different permits and licenses than a remote office administrator service.

Continue reading

Business Basics: What to Consider When Deciding Which State to File in

Foreign CorporationWhen it comes to opening your very own small business, you have a lot of decisions to make. What’s your logo going to look like, how many employees are you going to hire, have any initial marketing ideas? And on top of all that, maybe the biggest decision of all, is deciding which state to file in. You can go one of two ways with this: file in the state you’re physically located in, or file in another state. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Ultimately, the decision should be specific to each business because, depending on the states you’re considering, and your industry, one option may be more expensive than the other.

So when it comes down to it, be sure to consider these three factors when deciding where to file your business!

 The cost of foreign qualifying.

If you choose to file your business in a state other than the one you reside in, you’ll have to go through the process of filing for a foreign qualification. This is required of any company that wishes to conduct business outside the state lines that the formation was created in. Once you’ve filed the paperwork, you’re legally able to do business in a state that was not your business’s home state. You can, of course, file the paperwork yourself, but many businesses opt for a filing service to file the paperwork for them to ease the process. Our services, personally, start at $149.

The economic health of the prospective states.

The economic health of a state can be different for different industries. Where the automotive industry might be booming in the state you’re looking at, coal mining might not be doing so hot. There are a couple different reliable resources to check up on the health of a state and your specific industry: Forbes has a good list of the best states to do business in that includes the top industries with each state, and our latest series post, ABCs of Small Business Industry is another good place to check up on the health of your industry overall.

The small business friendliness.  

There are some states that are widely recognized as friendly business states- states that are simply huge supporters of small business and entrepreneurship. Delaware, for example, has earned the nickname of “The Incorporation Capital of the World” due to it not having any corporate income tax and maintaining such a modern corporate climate and economic outlook. Check in on your home state’s business friendliness to see if it would make more sense financially, considering taxes and overall fees, to stay in your state or head somewhere else.

Business Basics: Return on Investment (ROI)

Welcome back to business basics! In case you’ve forgotten, every week we take a look at a basic business concept in order to try to help new business owners better understand it. This week, we are covering Return on Investment, or ROI – a fairly straightforward, but often misunderstood, part of running a business! Though you may think you know all about ROI, you could be using it incorrectly. But first… ROI

What is ROI?

Return on Investment, or ROI, is pretty easy to grasp – heck, the definition is right in the name. It’s whatever return you get after your invest in some part of your business. So if you hire 2 new salespeople, a basic measurement of ROI will be the money they bring in, minus their wages. Continue reading

ABCs of Small Business Industry: B is for Banking

As we enter week four of our series, we decided to look at a slightly different industry – banking. Now, focusing on banking may seem a bit odd. After all, most people don’t consider banking as something an entrepreneur can even get into. And while there are loads a regulatory loopholes to jump through, plenty of entrepreneurs do start their own bank! And running a bank can be quite lucrative. So if you have experience in the financial industry, and are looking for a change, this could be just the post for you! banking

How do you start a bank?

Like any business, you need to identify a need. Most communities are served by big-name banks like Chase or Bank of America, and people gravitate towards names they recognize. But even if it feels like your community is over saturated with corporate banks, there could be a place for a small, community bank, like if you decide to focus on serving a particular section or area of the community. Some people also like being able to meet face-to-face with a high-level executive to talk about loans or their account – something they’d never be able to do at a corporate bank.

If the market looks good, you then need to work on getting everything organized. Most states require banks to have multiple directors, who then put in an initial offering to get the bank started, usually around 25% of the bank’s starting capital. Since banks need a lot of capital to run, this is usually a substantial amount of money. Most banks sell off shares to raise the rest of their capital.

When your ducks are in a row, you file for a state or federal charter. Filing this form typically costs thousands of dollars, and requires a substantial amount of preparation. You’ll need to include information like feasibility studies, applications for the directors, projected costs, projected salaries – the state or federal government effectively needs to decide whether or not you’ll be successful before granting a charter. After this, you apply for deposit insurance from the FDIC, which requires banks to prove they have enough capital to cover any risk and losses. It will take a few months before the charter application is processed and, once it is approved, you normally have about a year to start the bank officially.

What business structures are best suited for banking?

Because banks are required to have directors, executives, and shareholders, a bank has to be some sort of corporation. However, in some states, a bank is an entity in itself. Though it is run in the same way a standard corporation is.

How stable is the banking industry?

Very. Because banks have to apply for a charter, an outside organization effectively reviews their business plan and target market, and determines whether or not the idea is viable. Banking costs a lot of money, but if you get a charter, you can usually bet that you’ll be successful. The rate at which banks fail has also slowed substantially as the economy has recovered.

Interested in community banking? Have any questions about the banking industry? Leave a comment below, or give us a call at 1-877-692-6772!

Come Hangout with Us on Google+!

Have any questions about starting your own business? Not sure where to even start? Not to worry! We are proud to announce that, in conjunction with the Google Small Business Community, our CEO Deborah Sweeney is going to be fielding any and all questions about the legalities of starting your own business this Thursday. The Hangout starts tomorrow at 12:30 PM, and if you want your questions answered, you’ll need to RSVP and submit them to the moderator here.

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So don’t forget to tune in! We’re really excited about this opportunity, and look forward to a great discussion.

 

ABCs of Small Business Industries: A is for Automotive

automotive industryWelcome to week three of our ABCs of small business industries! Today’s focus in the series? The automotive industry! This particular industry works alongside anything involving the design, manufacturing, marketing, development, or selling of motor vehicles. What’s not included here, however, are auto repair shops or any sort of gas station.

If your dream has always been to run your own vintage car garage or design automobiles, keeping the following areas in mind to ensure a smooth start!

What do you need to get started?

The biggest hump you’ll have to get over in starting a business in the automotive industry is familiarizing yourself with all the industry rules. This industry in particular has a strict list of guidelines to abide by and follow, but, luckily, the Small Business Administration has you covered. Details on emission standards, how to become a registered motor vehicle importer, knowing the ins and outs of automobile certification, and information on the automobile federal trade commission will all come in handy to keep under your belt in such a robust industry.

Additionally, make sure you have a registered agent in place to handle all of your state mail and remind you of important deadlines, a business/operating license so you can do business where you’d like, and a federal tax ID (EIN) in place if you plan on hiring a strong team to come and join you.

What sort of entity should you form going into the automotive industry?

Though every business owner has the choice of filing whichever entity he feels best suits him and his business, it is common for business owners in the automotive industry to file as an LLC, probably largely in part to the appealing nature of the pass through taxation. This means that business owners who file as an LLC will only be taxed once, whereas with other entity forms, they could be getting taxed twice at both the company level and again at the owner. An LLC is also very easy to get started as well as easy to maintain.

How healthy is the industry?

Around the world right now, there are over 1 billion cars. According to Edmunds.com, “16.4 million car buyers are expected to continue to flock to the market, taking further advantage of more freely flowing credit to refresh the oldest vehicle fleet in history.”

Being that the automobile is the primary mode of transportation around the world, we have formed a strong sense of dependency on the automotive industry – and if you’re planning on starting a business to help out those who need extra assistance with their vehicles, now is a great time to do it!

Want to put the pedal to the metal and start your business in the automotive industry? MyCorp can help you get started! Just leave a comment below, or give us a call at 1 (877) 692-6772, and we’ll help you get your licenses, DBAs, and EINs squared away!