In the age of social media, some forms of communication appear old fashioned - mail is reserved for save-the-dates or thank you cards, and Instagram has become the place for finding one’s brand or identity. Despite moving our communication online, many people still utilize business cards for making new contacts and forming a solid list of clientele. Here are five reasons business cards are important for entrepreneurs and professionals.
1. Business Cards are Personal
While business cards have important information such as your name and contact information, business cards also show potential clients your style and what your company is about. Show your personality and what your business cares about - many of our clients who make products using recycled materials love our Kraft business cards, and we love it when creatives such as stylists and artists use foil on their business cards. Use your business card to show who you are and why your business shines.
2. Business Cards Make You Look Organized and Professional
Make a great first impression by handing your business card to a potential business partner, client, or acquaintance. Sharing your business card shows that you are excited to get to work and you are passionate about your brand and your identity.
3. Business Cards are Accessible
While Instagram and Facebook are crucial for getting your brand out there; business cards are easy. You can share a business card when you shake hands with someone, and you can take a stack of cards with you to a conference. Also, business cards always work, regardless of WiFi connection!
4. Business Cards Are a Physical Reminder
It’s easy to forget about a person you added on Facebook or LinkedIn and you never connect with them again. Social media can make it harder to sift through potential clients; and business cards are vital for a meet-and-greet. Business cards may also spark a memory of how you met, where, the conference topic, and other important details that separates you from others.
5. Creative Business Cards Will Circulate
When someone comes across a business card design that is thoughtful, unique, or well-designed, it is more likely to be shared. While a LinkedIn or Facebook invitation may be ignored; a creative, well-designed business card will leave a lasting impression that online communication cannot do.
While it is easy to think business cards are a thing of the past, it’s important to remember why in-person communication and physical media is just as important as social media. We hope this encourages you to order business cards and think about how business cards can elevate your brand!
If you walk into the Tower Press HQ, you'll see Apple products everywhere. Macbooks, iPads, iMacs, Airpods, iPhones, and all the boxes they came in (why are those so hard to throw away?). We're Apple people. We're loyal to the brand because Steve Jobs created an iconic line that equates to creativity, simplicity, and trustworthiness.
This is what brand awareness can do for a brand: embed itself into consumer lifestyles and purchase habits so that they don’t have to think twice before becoming a customer — time and time again. They know you, they love you, and they remember you!
What the heck is brand awareness anyway?
Brand awareness refers to the extent to which customers are able to recall or recognize a brand. It is a key consideration in consumer behavior, advertising management, brand management and strategy development. The consumer's ability to recognize or recall a brand is central to purchasing decision-making.
Let's say you are a jewelry designer/maker and someone purchases a necklace from your website. If you were to just toss said necklace into a mailer, with no identifying piece of information (like a business card, hang tag or a thank-you postcard), your customer probably wouldn't consider a re-order because their unboxing felt underwhelming.
Or, maybe you have a confusing website with no clear 'About' page. If it's hard for potential customers to figure out what you offer, they'll probably click off your page and find someone who is. Brand awareness is so broad, it can also boil down to your business name, online presence (or lack thereof), customer experience, or even your logo.
It boils down to trust. We know that trust is everything when it comes to purchasing decisions. Is the brand socially responsible? Do they strive to treat each customer well? When I see their logo, do I immediately think of them?
This sounds cool, but is it really attainable for a small business?
Brand Awareness isn't just reserved for the Nike, Band-Aid, and Kleenex of the world. You don't need a huge budget to be memorable! It doesn't happen overnight, but over time you'll be able to establish yourself as a trustworthy resource who stands out from the pack. Here are a few ways:
1. You are more than just a company that sells stuff.
Share your experiences with your audience, your likes, dislikes, hobbies, and passions. What excites you? By defining your brand as more than just another business that sells stuff and things, you impact your audience in a positive and more meaningful way.
2. Tell a Story.
People like hearings stories (as long as they are true). Authenticity, especially in the golden age of social media, feels hard to come by and people are craving it more than ever. Creating a narrative gives depth to your brand and humanizes it (see how all these steps are connected?). What should you talk about? Maybe introduce your Founders, talk about how you came up with your business name, discuss your first prototype and how it's changed over time. These narratives can create a big boost in your brand awareness.
I'm an introvert and this is sometimes my worst nightmare. I have reserved amounts of energy I can extend to large groups of people so I usually save it for moments when it's really going to count! Monthly small business meetups, parties, and trade shows are great for networking and spreading the word about your business. Because of social media, we can also socialize from our couches in our sweats (hello comfort zone!) Liking, commenting, and even retweeting or sharing other people's content creates brand awareness too.
4. Create Shareable Content.
There's a reason why you see memes and TikToks everywhere (we post them too!) or those cute videos of small animals being goofy, or the cast of Cheer being incredible. Though we may not necessarily ever go "viral," we can still create meaningful, sharable content that is relatable but also helps drive traffic where you want it to go. Our advice: make it funny! A good laugh in the middle of the day is probably just what your customers need.
Building, maintaining, and growing brand awareness is a never-ending process, just as maintaining a friendship or relationship never really ends. It takes work and persistence, but remember to treat your business as more than just a way to make money fast. Connect with your customers, nurture those relationships, and put your best self out in the open!
2020 is a great year to get your business off the ground (just think how cool est. 2020 sounds), but it's easy to get overwhelmed by the logistics of launching your dream trajectory. Your ideas and products may be great, but what about that seed money? Not everyone has money in savings or family/friends willing to write a big check, and grant writing can be difficult, so where else do you look? Most banks want you to be in business for 3 years before they're willing to give you a small business loan (the irony!), and the statistics on VCs investing in women-owned business is.... well, deplorable.
I started Tower Press with only a few hundred dollars, bad credit, and a small amount of money gifted by friends to fund a website template. Sometimes all you need is a good website! But, in a Capitalist society we need money to get things rolling. So where does it come from?
Here are 4 financial resources to help you out in the beginning stages of your business.
1. Shopify Capital
Before launching Tower Press, I knew I wanted to build our platform on Shopify based on all the wonderful things I had heard about it. Shopify has a Capital program that's based on your sales, not your credit or how many years you've been around. Within a month, Tower Press qualified for $500! That was a big stepping stone in helping us with a little advertising, boxes, and supplies.
Shopify also just launched a new Starter Loan program, giving those who qualify $200. No sales history or credit checks needed! I was able to build a six-figure business with just a few hundred dollars, maybe you can do the same!
Shopify Capital is automatically paid back via a percentage of your online sales. This does eat into your profit, but makes repayments very easy, especially since they aren't on a specific timeline. Most loans require the balance be paid off within 6 month-1 year, Shopify Capital doesn't have a specific timeframe for repayment.
Kabbage provides a line of credit to those who have a minimum credit score of 560, at least one year in business and have annual revenue of at least $50,000. You also need to have a business checking account or online payment platform such as PayPal or QuickBooks. Lines of credit work similar to loans. A credit line allows you to borrow in increments, repay it and borrow again as long as the line remains open. Typically, you will be required to pay interest on the borrowed balance while the line is "open", which makes it different from a conventional loan, which is typically repaid in fixed installments. Be careful not to get in over your head though, it's really easy to pull down from your line of credit but not always as easy as paying it back monthly.
If you're interested in Kabbage, drop me a line and I'll send you a referral link!
3. Paypal Working Capital / Paypal Loan Builder
These are two different things, but both are offered by Paypal. Working Capital is offered based on your sales history (no credit checks!), and time in business (typically 3 months). It's automatically repaid back via a percentage of your online sales.
Loanbuilderalso looks into your annual sales, but works more like a traditional loan in that you have a weekly repayment that automatically comes out of your business checking account. You will need to have been a business for at least 9 months, among other qualifications.
Similar to GoFundMe and Kickstarter, iFundWomen is a crowdfunding platform for start-ups, particularly those who identify as women-owned. They also have a wonderful team that specializes in coaching and also offer grants. Asking for help is hard, but you'd be surprised at how many people in your circle, and even total strangers, are willing to donate even just $10 to help you succeed. Crowdfunding takes a lot of research for best practices, if you go this route make sure you read up on how to run a successful campaign.
Please note that some of the requirements for each may have changed, so it's important to do your own research and see what works best for you. I'm not a financial advisor, these are just a handful of resources outside of traditional banks that are invested in seeing small businesses succeed. I want you to succeed too! If you have any questions, feel free to email me :)
Maybe it's the early 2000s revival (who else had inflatable furniture?)... but color us obsessed.
Whether it's a beach day, a stressful day through TSA, or you just NEED a cool bag for your items, Tower Press has you in the clear. Choose from our clear totes in 3 different clear colors, or rock a custom printed clear pouch for your cosmetics or art supplies.
Totes and bags are a great way to have your clients do the advertising for you. Upload a killer design (or we can design one for you!) and start racking in those big bucks for your next venture.
Keychains are a fun way to create pieces that last and can be resold at wholesale and retail prices, they also make great keepsakes for your clients, customers, and friends. And hey, who doesn't love having their customers advertise for them? Here are our BRAND NEW options:
Just like our custom enamel pins, these are made in nearly the same way, but with an added ring. These keychains also come with tons of great add-ons like glitter, back prints, and Pantone-matched color fills.
Apologizing can be tricky! We apologize when we don’t mean it at all; and when we do need to apologize the process can be more difficult than we realize. Apologies are a necessary exchange in the business world -- mistakes will happen whether human error or not, and the way people apologize can have very real effects on our feelings of self-worth. In fact, researchers have examined why girls and women apologize more than men.
Girls are groomed to be empathetic people-pleasers at the expense of their own individuality. This empathetic behavior can complicate other behaviors associated with success such as drive, winning, and competition. We want to encourage ways of conversation that don’t hinge on “I’m Sorry” that creates a false sense of inadequacy. Here are some alternatives to saying I’m Sorry that we hope you use ASAP!
Turn Apologizes into Gratitude
Say something like “Thanks for flagging that”, or “I appreciate you bringing this error to my attention.” This is a great way of recognizing an error that a client or employee noticed that you didn’t catch before. This prevents apologizing unnecessarily but also addressing the problem that is being fixed.
Actions Over Words
If there is an error that needs to be addressed, a great way to apologize without saying “I’m sorry” is by rectifying the issue. Rather than using “I’m sorry” as a placeholder for an action, handle the problem and say “I have taken care of the issue at hand” or “Thank you for bringing this to my attention - the problem as been resolved.” This shows that you are in control and that you are doing more than apologizing - you are also addressing the issue.
Respond Confidently to Shortcomings, Commit to Fixing It
When you have a task at hand and something doesn’t go your way, recognize the perceived failure and reply with confidence. You can say something like “That didn’t go as well as planned, but I am on it. Let me get to work and get back to you.” This shows that you are acknowledging the problem and gathering resources to get the task done.
Respond to Disagreement by Stating Your Opinion
If there is a disagreement regarding a design change or a new strategy that you don’t like, it is totally OK for you to have an opinion and it is not your priority to keep the peace. Instead of saying “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand this switch” you can say something like “I appreciate your work on this, but I don’t understand the need for this switch.” This moves your responsibility away from keeping everyone happy, and instead makes your focus on making your work and process as efficient as possible.
Each circumstance that may involve an apology is unique - so as always, use your best judgement to assess whether or not you need to say “I’m sorry.” It’s important for women-led businesses to recognize how we may undermine our own work without realizing it, so we hope these tactics for apologizing without saying I’m Sorry is helpful!
Finally, custom printed tissue paper is HERE! We have two sizes available, and endless color and custom options. The best news? All of our custom printed tissue is made with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper, and printed with soy-based inks making it high quality AND biodegradable. It's important for us to always find eco-friendly options whenever possible.
At Tower Press, we know how hectic things can get while running a small business or side hustle. Meeting deadlines, keeping clients happy, and having good communication skills are just a few of the tasks many of us have to juggle when it comes to making our work come to life. Supporting businesses can come in many ways. Here are five ways to support a small business or a friend’s side hustle beyond investing your dollars!
1. Post, tag, re-blog - or all three
Never undermine the power of social media! When we make custom stickers, business cards, or pins for our clients, we LOVE to see Tower Press get a shout-out. This is one of the best ways to share your own work while also giving another small business a plug. We want you to feel good about the products you make, and we want everyone to know that the extra special hang-tag, sticker, or business card that elevates your brand is made proudly by Tower Press!
2. Host networking events
Get a bunch of business owners, CEOS, and artist creatives for drinks and snacks! This can be a great way to get together people whose work you admire and support and understand their goals - and also develop potential collaborations with other cool women!
3. Hire women
Data suggests that investors are more likely to invest in a company with women in managerial positions because those companies are seen as more innovative and creative. It’s also important to elevate women’s job experience and their earning potential -- especially since we know that women earn less than men in the workplace, and these stats are drastically worse when it comes to Latinx and Black women. While hiring women certainly isn’t free; hiring women is an investment that will have its benefits!
4. Share your story through blog or social media posts
If you are a seasoned entrepreneur who has gone through the ups and downs of starting a small business, we want to hear your story - the good, the bad, and the ugly. The more women who talk about their business experience, the more we can learn from them. See sharing your story as another way of building your brand!
5. Tell your friends!
When you get a compliment on your business card, or is a friend is looking for a place to make stickers, tell your friends about Tower Press! This instills trust in our future clients, and we know how important it is when a friend vouches for your work. While many people use social media and other online platforms to gain an audience, we know that nothing beats the IRL connection you have with someone!
As a woman-owned and women-led business, Tower Press wants to share our work experience with other women and see other women succeed. We really hope this post encourages you to reach out and collaborate with other cool women working on projects you admire. We are looking forward to making magic with you soon!
We love our clients, and what we love even more is when our clients share their process. We love providing that extra sparkle, shine, and gloss that makes your work stand out, and we also love building community with our clients and their hustles. We want to introduce you to some of our amazing clients, so please check out the work of Amanda Shoemaker from Saved In the Stitch of Time!
I began sewing nearly a decade ago when a friend brought home a machine destined for the landfill. I've combined my love of thrift stores and individual style to create a refashioned clothing line. Creating new pieces using upcycled materials in a fight against fast fashion is my passion. Alterations, mending and custom work is what helps push my business further. I am set up a local farmer's market and offer on the spot services.
I used Tower Press for a majority of my marketing; banners, stickers, business cards. I love supporting an independent business run by hard-working women!
You can find more of Amanda's work on Facebook & Instagram: @savedinthestitchoftime
I used to wear my workaholism like a badge of honor.
In previous work-lives I was proud of the fact that I was "on call" at all hours. It made me feel valued and it made me feel good that I was hustling. My previous boss (and many before that) set the tone by starting at the crack of dawn and going til he couldn't anymore, and dragged his employees along for the ride. I thought it was normal, so I made it a point to be available at all times and I did That. For. Seven. Years. Looking back, I was miserable, sick all the time, and I had given 100% of myself away.
Working more doesn't mean that you care more or get more done. It just means that you work more. It's not sustainable and that hard crash is inevitable. Here's an excerpt from the book, Rework, which I mostly hated but it did have some solid takeaways.
"If all you do is work, you're unlikely to have sound judgements. Your values and decision making wind up skewed. You stop being able to decide what's worth extra effort and what's not. You wind up just plain tired. No one makes sharp decisions when tired...
Workaholics aren't heroes. They don't save the day, they just use it up."
So why have we been programmed this way? Here are some active steps that I personally take (and still don't take them all the time) to help me stay on track, be my very best, and fight the burnout.
1. I Took Emails off My Phone (and didn't die)
The funny part is that I actually put them back on recently BUT I disabled the push notification feature on my iPhone (that pesky little red number). I found that because I don't see that horrible number anymore, I just don't check them unless I absolutely have to. Work emails can wait until business hours. That Sephora tracking number... maybe not. But when I took them off completely I definitely didn't die! Any normal person is going to understand that you cannot be in correspondence at all times. And if they expect that please send them the link to this blog.
2. Leave the Laptop at the Office
Something a crazy person would say, right? You probably rolled your eyes just then. We already work 8+ hour days (and I actually think we all should implement a 6 hour work day but... baby steps), why extend that? Why drag work out way too long? Because we know that we can. We have these little portable devices that go with us everywhere! So what happens if you change your mindset? Give yourself 6-8 hours to do what you need to do, and then be done. I certainly don't always do this, but I try to make it a point at least 2 days a week to leave the laptop. This allows me to focus on reading a book, cooking myself a good meal (ordering takeout), or finally changing the lightbulb in the bathroom. And most importantly, rest!
3. Weekends are Sacred
Tower Press is closed on the weekends and we will not apologize for it. We need to rest. I need to rest. We need time with our families, friends, and pets. These are the days when we can be out in the world and have a little fun (something we all deserve) and reset our minds and bodies. For the most part, I take weekends off. I don't look at emails or even open my laptop (unless it's to watch Fleabag because I can't figure out how to stream Amazon Video on my television). Of course, there are times when I just have to. And that's okay! I try not to put too much pressure on myself about it and I still feel the pangs of guilt if I sat around in my soft pants all day and didn't do a single thing work related. How sad is that? That we've been made to believe we have to be working at all times in order to have any value in the world and that time to ourselves is shameful. Take that full day off!
You're probably telling yourself, "I can't. What if so and so emails me? What if an order comes in? What if a potential client needs a quote on something? I have orders piling up I have to get to them right this second." I understand the panic in feeling the need to respond or get to it right away, it's ingrained in us. I still think about all these things, all of the time but the value of our mental health should take precedence over the other noise for just one or two days out of the seven that we have. Really think about what's the worst that could happen.
4. Realize that you DO have the time
Tower Press gets anywhere from 60-150 emails per day, on top of the online orders to process, deliveries, production, and shipments to coordinate. It's a lot for 2-3 people to handle! There's also time needed for marketing, managing our social channels, bookkeeping, client meetings, the list goes on. Can you believe I used to handle it all by myself up until recently? Two things helped me with managing my time.
- Stopped telling myself that I didn't have any time and instead told myself that I have plenty. I won't get into the whole "time is a manmade construct" thing, but by operating with the mentality that the time is there I found that I don't bolt out of bed in the mornings feeling panicked. I don't burst into the office out of breath feeling frazzled that I've not completed 500 things by 9am. Do I actually have all the time in the world? No. Our client's have deadlines and we do have to keep it moving. But for the *other* stuff, I'll get to it when I get to it and I am doing my best.
- Utilizing the pomodoro technique for most of my tasks. This was a really simple method that my business coach told me about that I literally laughed at because it sounded so ridiculous. So naturally, it worked (for me). Timing my tasks to 25 minutes at a time keeps me focused and on track (pro-tip: if using your phone as a timer make sure to keep it out of reach).
5. Take a walk!
Our current studio has no windows. For creatives this is... terrible. I always encourage employees and myself to get up, move around, and take a walk whenever you need to. Stand up every hour and move your body. Are you slouching right now? Your physiology is also attached to your mindset. When I catch myself feeling really ragged I noticed that my body is slumped over while I'm typing at my desk. The minute I straighten up that posture, I start to feel better. Our bodies are incredible and we should respect them enough to give them a little TLC by keeping them moving.
This is one I still really struggle with. I have ADD and it's hard for my thoughts not to race at all times. I am constantly being pulled in different directions and centering myself during a few quiet moments is rare. I'm making the effort again to put meditation back into my daily habits because it's an incredible tool to check in with my mind and body and let both know to slow down and be quiet. You don't have to be religious (I'm not) or even spiritual to feel the benefits. You also don't have to sit cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed if that doesn't work for you. Everybody has 10 - 20 minutes they can dedicate to themselves for a peaceful moment.
I hope this helps some of you who are feeling overwhelmed and like you can never catch your breath. You can! Everything is a process, and every day is going to be different. Sometimes we just have to put in 12 hour days, but make sure you reward yourself with a little RnR.