Distinct and Direct, Part 3

In the podcast series, Seth Godin’s Startup School, Seth Godin gave a guided tour to a group of highly-motivated early-stage entrepreneurs on some of the questions they will have to dig deep and ask themselves while they build up their business. Here are my takeaways from various topics discussed in the podcast episodes.

NOTE: This appeared to be a Q&A session. Although the questions did not come through on the recording, I speculated on what some of the questions might be based on Seth’s answers.

Q: How should I use a lawyer or procure legal help?

A: A legal document might be an important marketing tool in certain business cases but do not overpay for legal assistance. The important thing to keep in mind is not get sued in the first place. Having well-crafted legal documents alone will not necessarily lessen our chance of getting sued.

There are two things we can do to help ourselves not get sued. One is to write the contracts and agreements in clear English, so both parties know what we agreed on. That dramatically decreases the chance because most of the time people sue because they are hurt and angry. If they know what they signed up for, they are less likely to feel hurt and angry when things do not work out. The number two thing is to put a clause that says we will settle all disagreements by binding informal arbitration.

Q: What imprinted gifts or promotional items should I use?

A: Most of the imprinted stuff is junk. It is invisible, unremarkable, and not very memorable. The point is, it doesn’t have to be some fancy thing from China that imprinted. It can be an object. It could be anything, and we are just always giving out this object with a story attached to it. That is the icebreaker we can use to be memorable, as opposed to all that trade show junk. Those junks mean absolutely nothing.

Q: How should I name my business?

A: There are two general approaches to naming a business. We can start with two kinds of names, names that mean something and names that do not. Names that do not, Amazon Starbucks, Nike, and some other fancy varieties, do not mean anything until the company comes to exist. The others are names that immediately tell us what the business is about. If we come up with a fanciful name, it is a blank slate, and we get to fill it with meaning.

The bad news is, during the beginning years, we must explain what we do. If we come up with a name that means something, we do not have to explain too much at the beginning. The names that have obvious meanings can be good for the customers who need to get to know you, but the investment community might not think as much. That is because many investment superstar companies started with non-obvious names (Yahoo!, Google, and so on).

Depending on how we need to fund our businesses, the position in the minds of the investors and journalists can shift based on which name we pick. Another thing to note is that URL still matters because a lot of people do not know how they work. There is still more value for consumer brand URL that ends in dot com. Anyway, the easiest way to get a domain is to take two English words and put them together because the length is not an issue as long as we can remember it. In the end, it depends on how big we want to be and how we want our customers to perceive us early on.

Finally, “Fly closer to the sun. Nothing bad will happen, I promise.”