The Hidden Costs of Your First Business Card

How to brand your business cards and your business

Today, I wanted to tell you about something I’ve come across so many times it’s almost difficult to count. I call it the “Business Card Trap,” and we’ve either all done it or seen it, and it can end up costing you not only money and time, but future clients.

The truth is, if you’ve ever met someone who has recently started a business, the following back-and-forth may sound familiar.


You’re at an event with a former colleague of yours when she introduces you to someone we’ll name John. John recently started his own consulting business and has the energy of someone whose been shot out of a slingshot. Well dressed, intelligent and with a sharp sense of humor, his excitement is infectious as he tells you about what he’s doing and who he’s working with.

You can’t help but to be swept along, but you notice that he’s starting to repeat himself a bit, struggling to explain how he works and how his company is making a difference. Actually, he sounds a little like someone you met a few months ago who also just started a similar company…

Still, you would like to see if you can help him as you can see how excited he is. As the conversation naturally wraps up and you hand him your card, you feel his energy dip as he clumsily begins rooting through his bag to return the gesture, sheepishly avoiding eye contact.

He hands you a flimsy, slightly dog-eared card whose overall impression doesn’t match the excitement of the person in front of you. “I’m so sorry about my card and, as you’ll see, my website. I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to really properly get to these, but it’s on the list.”

John’s confidence has seemingly evaporated, and it’s clear that he hopes your previous conversation will supplant the stumbling sign-off you’ve had with one another.

Business Card design is the product of research and work.

If you were to ask John about his card and his website, you’ll usually get some version of the same story: he just started his business and, eager to create clients, realized he needed a business card.

And in order to look legitimate, he needed to put a website address on said business card.

So he filled out a templated card from an online vendor, bought a website domain, and similarly filled out a templated website.

And there they sat, not reflecting John, what he actually does, his company’s mission, the polish he’s seeking, or the needs his potential clients have.


The Business Card Trap

This is what we call the Business Card Trap; impatient and excited to “to just have something,” many early entrepreneurs understandably jump headfirst into creating their initial business card and then feel pressured to also immediately create a website, always promising themselves to put something more polished together in the near future.

Fast forward soon after, and very good money has been spent for placeholder cards and a website that do little to reflect them, their company, their mission, or the ultimate reason to have them: creating clients.

The irony is, the cost is not just the money or time, but in those very clients they’re pursuing who can’t seem to connect with what their business is.

And there’s a reason why, and it only partly has to do with design.


There’s a good deal of homework required to create the clarity that business owners need before they begin branding themselves.


The good news is that there is a proven method to doing this in a way that saves money, time, and creates an impression that clients are soon not to forget.

  • Keep it Simple: If you need to create a quick business card, create the most simple one you can. We’re talking just your name, your phone number, and your e-mail. That’s it. Anything else and you’re creeping into “placeholder” territory, which can creep into being semi-permanent. A simple card like this can also be quite effective (and not distracting) if you otherwise know how to speak about your business and your clients.

  • Know What You Do: If you don’t know how to passionately talk about what you do, the reason behind it, what your services are, how this answers your clients needs, and who they are, I’d like to hold up a big sign that says STOP NOW.
    Here’s why: Everything flows from those points. Your conversations, your pitches, your branding, your ability to connect, and how you position yourself are all directly influenced and inferred from this. If you don’t know all of the above, pause for a moment and dig in to can discover what these mean for you.

  • Know Their Problem: Understanding the “how” of your services is only one part: the next is being able to see how your client’s problems reflects your business’ solutions. Being clear on this impacts how you authentically connect with others and creates true moments where people feel listened to and understood.

  • Work the Room: Chances are, there are other people doing something very similar to what you do. Knowing what sets you apart from the crowd will give you a confident edge that no one else can reproduce.

  • Brand for Your People: Understanding all the above directly influences the branding choices you will make (we’re talking: colors, fonts, logo, etc.). You’ll know what your specific ideal client responds to, how it aligns to your mission, and most importantly how it reflects you personally. It’s a perfect storm.

Imagine having all of the above nailed down and then creating your branding, business card, and website. You’ll go from things being awkward or a struggle, to conversations simply flowing. Things just…make sense.

If you’re a new business owner reading this and saying, “Gosh, I am nowhere close to tackling any of this,” just know this is totally normal. No one jumps into starting a business knowing this stuff by instinct.

The good news is that this is literally what you’ll learn with me in the Pursuit with Passion program. It’s an all-in-one package where you learn all of the above (and more) and have an incredible website and branding when we’re finished. It’s perfect for someone exactly like you, exactly where you’re at.

If you’re interested, click here to learn more or feel free to reach out to me directly by e-mailing me here.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this quote which I recently stumbled across by the immortal Maya Angelou. Be well -

You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.
— Maya Angelou

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Scott Robson is a branding and entrepreneurial coach who helps business leaders focus on what matters.

Scott Robson