The Basics of Starting Your Business: Logos, Domains & Names

  •    Law graduate and journalist who specializes in helping entrepreneurs market and grow their businesses.

Starting a business can feel a little intimidating, but it doesn't have to be that way. Of course, you want to make sure that you choose a business name and logo you're happy with, but the steps to get there don't have to be difficult. Here are the basics on choosing logos, domains and business names.

Find a Logo Designer

Unless you are skilled in graphic arts, you will likely need to find someone to design your logo. If your budget isn't very big, you can use Fiverr to find an inexpensive logo designer. Some designers' prices start as low as $5 to $25.

If your budget is a little bigger, you can search Craigslist or a dedicated freelance website for a designer. Sites like Upwork and 99Designs are set up specifically for freelancing projects. Be sure to review examples of the designer's work, their cost per hour or project and their reviews or referrals before hiring someone. If you're going through Craigslist, you might even want to create a contract that stipulates how much you'll pay, if revisions are included and how long the project will take.

Make Sure Your Logo Has a Vector Version & Works in Different Mediums

When asking for a logo design, you'll want to get the vector version of the logo. Vector allows the logo to be resized without losing quality, whether you're fitting the logo on a business card or on a large sign. It can also be output to many different kinds of image types, including JPG, PNG, TIFF, and more.

You'll want to pick a design that works in a variety of mediums. Does the design still look OK if it's copied in black-and-white?

Watch the Color & Font

It sounds obvious, but you'll want to look for a logo that fits your business's personality. Aim for a font that is easy to read at different sizes and doesn't look outdated. This is why, for example, script fonts aren't always a great option; they can be difficult to read.

Be very purposeful about the colors you choose. Red is more bold and youthful, while blue gives off a sense of trust and strength and purple is more creative.

Ask the designer to make a variety of options so you can pick which you like the best.

Keep Your Business Name Short and Simple

Choosing a business name can feel a bit daunting. So much rides on what you pick! But remember, even in a "worst case scenario," you can always change your choice later. It may take a little work to get the word out, but you're not necessarily stuck forever. Many states let you reserve several names for a small fee, or you can register one of your ideas as your business name and the others as DBAs ("Doing Business As.")

When choosing your business name, think about the basics like your mission, your competition's names, how the name makes people feel and even how easy it is to spell. Brainstorm different names and write them down, but try to keep the name short and simple.

Don't rush the process; give it time. You might even want to run your top picks past trusted friends. If you're concerned they won't be honest, let them fill out an anonymous survey with their opinions. You can even use focus groups if you want to take a more scientific approach.

Make Sure Your Business Name Is Available

Before you commit to your name, make sure it's available. Use a domain name search tool to see if there's a domain free. Check with your state's Secretary of State to make sure the name's available. Many states, like California, have an online search service to make this easier.

Register Your Name

Once you've chosen your name, it's time to register it with your Secretary of State. Check your Secretary of State's website for detailed instructions on what your state requires. Sometimes you'll need to pay fees or get forms notarized. Sometimes you can register online and sometimes you'll need to mail in forms. You may need to register your business with your local county as well. Requirements will also depend on the type of business you have (whether it's an LLC, sole proprietor, etc.)

Buying Your Domain Name Is Simple

Buying your domain name is the simplest part of all. When choosing your domain name, make sure it's easy to spell, short and doesn't have underscores or anything else that might make remembering the address tougher. Although there are many sites you can use to purchase a domain name, Weebly is your easiest choice for simple integration with the site you're building. In fact, Weebly will give you a free domain for a year with any annual paid plan.

As you can see, the basics of starting your business don't need to be complicated. Don't rush the process, but don't feel so overwhelmed that you never get started. Don't forget to make sure you're following all the right legal steps when beginning your journey as a small business owner.