According to Forbes, “8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. A whopping 80% crash and burn”. When starting a business, it is incredibly important to get several things right in order to make it through your first year. From how you choose to fund your business to your marketing strategies, you need to make sure every dollar you spend is matched with the greatest return on investment.

Consider Brand Identity.  Everything that your customers or potential customers know about your business is directly linked to your brand identity. Establishing your business’ brand identity is even more important in today’s digital world. Consumers can communicate with or about your brand with a quick click of a button.

For a small business, branding begins with selecting a good logo. A logo should establish and communicate the business’ identity. Keep in mind that the logo you choose should have the potential to create a lasting association between the image and your products/services (consider Nike and Coca-Cola). A good logo will also differentiate your brand from competitors. Auto manufacturers, for example, use their logos to differentiate between their products.

Above all, your logo should awaken an emotional response in consumers. Great logo designers know how to use colors and shapes and how to manipulate the graphics of the design in order to get a specific response. Chick-fil-a, Dairy Queen, McDonalds, Burger King, Sonic, Pizza Hut, Wendy’s and KFC all use the color red in their logo; the color red is believed to stimulate hunger. Amazon’s upward-pointing arrow logo resembles a smile. Those that enjoy shopping at Amazon can find anything their heart desires, and prime members can enjoy free two-day shipping – who wouldn’t smile at that?

Creating an Attractive Website. According to a study by GE Capital Retail Bank, 81% of consumers look for information before physically going to a store or shop. In addition, according to research by Acuity Group, nearly a third of business-to-business buyers research at least 90 percent of their purchases online before committing to buying. Especially for startups, a good website is essential.

When creating your business’ website, make sure that consumers can glean everything they need or want to know about your business; that includes products/services, hours of operation, location, special offers, programs, and information about the business. It should be visually appealing and easy to navigate. With the increase in mobile purchases, it also needs to be responsive for users that access your site through their mobile devices. Most importantly, make sure that your website is aligned with your brand identity.

Finding Funding. Startups require capital to move from a concept to a fully-fledged operation. Whether a business gets off the ground or not is completely in the hands of the entrepreneur. The funding decisions made in the beginning determine a business’ success and efficiency in the future. There are many merchant loans for startups, but not every option is going to suit the specific needs of your business. Ask yourself the following questions as you explore your options. Do you require funding in smaller amounts over a certain duration, or do you need more upfront funding? How long will it take for you to experience a return on investment? Are you willing to assume risk alone, or are you open to sharing risk with someone else? To find the best suited option for your startup, do your research, know all the details and compare your funding options.

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