by Maggie O'Keefe
In order to legitimize a business as successful, they are beholden to certain practices. Before the 21st century, professionals often made business connections face-to-face, through cold calling, networking, and referrals; email and cell phones trailing behind before quickly catching up to everyone’s fingertips and pockets. Yet in the digital age, we, as business owners, are still holding on to outmoded ideas and concepts that are, quite frankly, archaic and ultimately not environmentally friendly.
Take the business card for example. You know, the geometric cardstock with your name and email address on it. The thing that you print in 500 or 1,000 count and parade around, stressing how much your cards cost as if it were the deal of a century.
Last month I had a “warm” debate on the concept of running a business without business cards. The conversation went something like,
Me: “I don’t have business cards.”
Man: “You don’t!?! You really need business cards.”
Me: “No, I don’t think I do.”
Man: “Yea, you really do.”
Me: “Do you have a business card?”
Man: “Yes” (produces business card and hands it to me) “This is my business card.”
Me: “Great - now I can contact you if I want to.”
I present you my 3 reasons why I don’t make business cards (for my business) and how I still turn a profit:
This past July, I made the necessary decision to order business checks for my growing company. The complimentary checks for creating a business bank account ran out and I needed to pay contractors. The “business elite package” came with fun businessy trinkets like a bank envelope, a big binder, and even a deposit stamp! My company and business address came boldly branded on the maroon-colored checks. I was a happy lady. I felt accomplished.
TWO DAYS LATER, our landlord told us we had to move out in September. My home also includes my office. Now, all my checks have my former address on them and it would cost an arm and a leg to reprint and reorder checks with my new address.
I won’t be placing my worth as a businesswoman into pieces a paper, including business cards, moving forward.. I find them a waste of my time. If I want to create a lead, I can do so through a face-to-face conversation, an email, or a phone call. My business has grown on referrals and submissions alone, zero of which have been prompted by handing over a business card.
Waste by humans is the number one effect of climate change. I question regularly how I can be more mindful of the environment in my business without compromising growth. Business cards is on the list of Not Needed. Other measures include printing and shipping less, turning off the computer, and recycling old technology, just to name a few.
Yes, there are compostable business cards, but.the thought of my branded business card sitting atop someone’s desk or in a draw, or even worse, in a landfill, irks me enough to stand strong on this decision. Also, it makes me a little sad.
You know what I do when I meet someone I want to connect with and we BOTH don’t have business cards? I take down an e-note and email them in the morning. Sometimes I email them right there and state, “Here’s my email address, I will send you a more detailed email in the morning.” THEN I tell Siri to remind me to email them at 9am tomorrow morning.
I’ve committed no crime. I’ve wasted no time. I just moved forward to Step Two quicker than if we exchanged business cards. Professionals are using business cards like KPI’s without running the ROI (and imagine how time consuming that would be if they did). For me, it’s a waste of my time to design a business card, get them printed, have them shipped, and hand them out like free pieces of candy. My iPhone is a smarter, more reliable, and faster e-business card than any piece of cardstock in my wallet will ever be.
I am an unconventional business professional: I have tattoos, I wear jeans to meetings, and I don’t have business cards, but I’ve survived thus far and grown my business 2x over in under 2.5 years. Maybe being a bit unconventional could cut costs, drive up sales, and make you happier? It’s certainly time we reexamine traditional paths to success.