You Can’t Afford to Miss This One

Thriving firms, look out—this post is geared toward brand-new businesses. (Okay, more established businesses may benefit from these ideas also.)

As the owner of a startup company, you may feel like you can’t afford to hire a designer.

Quick plug for the entire design world (you know what we’ll say): Often, you can’t afford not to hire us. Sometimes we can save you money in costly errors; often we can save you time—which gets your party started faster; well-directed money is always more effective at launching your company than scattered efforts. If you can’t hire a designer (naturally, I recommend an Experience Designer) for your entire project, sometimes a very focused consultation can give you insight that guides your efforts and saves you from spinning your wheels.
Ahem, I had to do that. Guild rules or something. Back to the article now.

Now, if you’ve just got to go it alone, how can you best implement just a few elements of Experience Design that will boost your startup now and long-term?

Top Three Musts for Startups

1. Research and write down an Experience Design plan

Vision (Your “destination”)
Ideal Customer/ Ideal Solution
Goals (Points that help you know when you’ve reached your destination)

2. Start with a great name

As I wrote in Key Concepts, quite simply—your company’s name is the most important ad you’ll ever write.

3. Get some help—see your company the way others will see it

Some advise getting opinions of friends and family (some advise against it!); some suggest an advisory panel of business associates; these days, some suggest Internet help.
Even if it’s the coworkers at the place you moonlight with while you begin, get some in-person (not Internet, they can’t see your place), objective (this may rule out family…) opinions on your name, your basic business concept, your look (I mean your site but if they have opinions on your personal appearance take those opinions gratefully, too), and your plan.

If you’ve gotten this far, you’re in love with your idea—get someone who isn’t, to tell you what works and what definitely doesn’t.

If possible, get this advice from a few people who are similar to your Ideal Customer profile, so they can give an informed opinion, but don’t fret if they have no connection to your field. Very fresh, outsider opinion is also quite valuable, as long as the person can put him- or herself in the shoes of a customer. [If Granny says she doesn’t get it, is it because she’s not your target market and isn’t trying to imagine being in their shoes (not a good advisor), or is it because the idea or execution of the idea stinks (a very good advisor)? Know your Granny to answer that one.]

Bonus “Must”:

Quick impressions are very useful. After all, most potential clients, like potential suitors, are going to make very quick judgments when deciding to accept or reject your company. Periodically clear your mind and do a “quick look” at your brand-new baby business. Whatever you notice first is the area to focus your attention on. Have advisors do this too. If a color glares at them, or clutter or (heaven forbid!) dirt is what they notice, if they drive up and can’t find your signs, if they can’t remember your name or it has bad associations in their mind… these are the things prospects will catch, too.


When I sign these postings, I really mean these last few words. If you are the owner of a fledgling startup, then I wish this for you *double* today:

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson