Does Your Business Card Say You Mean Business?

I’m about to start a new business and need to get business cards. Would it be appropriate to use the punch-out or pre-designed paper stock I see in the stores?

Congratulations on starting your business! Be sure to visit your local SCORE office to increase your chances of success.

Your stationery, business card, newsletter, proposal, etc., are all part of your sales team. They will often get through the door in an effort to sell your products or services long before you do. If the suit they’re wearing appears to be of inferior quality, so will your business.

The quality of this paper is not sufficient to project the image you’ll want. The more inferior your image, the harder you’ll have to work to prove your value to a potential client.

The paper you dress your business card in says more about your business than you may realize. Quality paper feels good and rich to the touch, much like the fabric in a fine-tailored suit. It speaks to you. Do you want your paper selection to whisper words like: quality, stable, and professional? Or do you want it to shout: cheap, fly-by-night, or smalltime? If it’s the latter, your package will rarely get to the hands of the decision-maker: it won’t get past the gatekeeper.

Design is also crucial to creating an image that shouts success. You should avoid using ClipArt and pre-designed cardstock for the same reasons as choosing good paper. If you can’t afford a professional designer, it’s best to keep your card very simple, using lettering that matches the type of business you’re in (e.g., avoid using a typeface that’s more appropriate for a wedding invitation unless you’re in that or a similar business.)

Making the additional investment of using quality paper and hiring a good designer will put you one step closer to the decision-maker and is a giant step toward building your brand. The difference in the cost becomes negligible when compared to the cost of losing the deal.

P.S. Here is a blog post on creating unforgettable business cards.

Peggy Duncan, Personal Productivity Expert


  1. @Chef Elle: Hi Elle, none of the above. I batch scan all my cards into categories using the CardScan. For example, when I speak at an event, I’ll create a category for it and scan all cards into that category. Later if I want to send an email message (or mail merge email or letter) just to those people, I can.

    I trash all cards after scanning because CardScan creates an image of each one. All of my files are backed up online so no worry there.

    If you don’t want to invest in a CardScan, decide how cards can become electronic (Excel spreadsheet, Outlook, etc…either way, add categories so you can filter later). If you never intend to contact the people and only need a few of the cards, dump them because they’re junk.

    I do have a rolodex still and keep cards for vendors such as gardener, barber, etc. I don’t file them by the person’s name but rather by what they do. So the barber’s card would go under B because that’s the first thing I’d think of when I need the number.

    Hope this helps.

  2. Hi, Peggy! I have lots of business cards from others. What is the most productive way to store them. I originally thought I’d use a desk top Rolodex; then I thought I should group them according to services, photocopy the page and then file the pages. What do you suggest.

  3. Hello Christine, thanks for your comments. I just butchered a new business owner’s card at a conference today. Had to tell him he didn’t look like he was ready for prime time…punched out paper, wrong font, too crowded…etc.

  4. Hi Alik, thanks. A business card is pretty typical as far as info goes. A clean, readable design works well. On my card, I put my picture because I’m a speaker and I am the brand. My phone number stands out and my email address is easy to read.

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