Every business owner knows that the odds are stacked against them when starting out; more than 50 percent of startups fail in their first four years.
When businesses do end up failing, the entrepreneur behind them is equally destroyed; that is, unless they were busy building their personal brand as well.
The Importance of Self-Branding
SMB owners must understand that personal branding far exceeds the desire to accumulate more wealth and actually translates into a multitude of benefits that would be difficult to achieve otherwise.
Personal branding can help entrepreneurs become authorities in their field, separate from what their company offers. By becoming a public figure, business owners can develop new and fortuitous relationships and connections, recapture momentum if a business does fail, or even create entirely new businesses much faster.
People like Bill Gates and Tony Hsieh have created powerful personal brands that revolve around their personalities and values rather than their infamous corporate enterprises; this is part of what gives these men staying-power in the public eye.
As an entrepreneur, your best bet at establishing long-term career success is to shape and promote your own personal brand in tandem with your business’s identity.
If you are aching to become an authority in your niche, a thought leader, or otherwise notable individual, here five methods for bringing this dream to life.
Find Branding Master Mentors
One of the best ways to successfully achieve anything is by looking to those who have already achieved success; absorb their knowledge, learn their secrets, and apply it to your strategy.
One of the biggest misconceptions about mentors, however, is that these need to be people you have face-to-face interactions with and personally know.
While this certainly is ideal, mentors and mentor-mentee relationships come in many shapes and sizes. These people can be personal associates, but they can also be digital influencers, keynote speakers, or authors of books that you have reaped rewards from.
In a Huffington Post interview with Tai Lopez, one of today’s most prolific and sought-out investors, entrepreneurs, and digital business influencers, he candidly proclaims that his fervent book-reading is what allowed him to tap some of the world’s greatest minds and gain mentorship, knowledge, and direction. These valuable tools allowed him to attain his massive success and build a robust personal brand.
The key is finding mentors who have successfully built strong personal brands and who resonate deeply with you; this will allow you to really internalize much of their teachings.
Find Your Social Niche
It’s undeniable that social media is one of the most essential aspects of business and branding today – personal or otherwise.
Most entrepreneurs, however, rush into establishing a website, figuring out logos and branding elements, and making their mark as a thought leader.
Urgency is not your best friend when establishing your brand. Be intention, and focus on things like:
- Which social media platforms best suits your style and interests
- Where your audience lives in the social-sphere
After you have accomplished these objectives, start cranking out valuable content that will help your audience and provide obvious value. If you are a cook, start posting images of dishes on Instagram with the recipe as the description. If you are aiming to be an influencer in the realm of psychology, start catering to your audience with Facebook Live. Want to make how-to carpentry videos? Then YouTube is where you need to be.
After you start building your audience through valuable and pragmatic information, then you can start creating the actual elements of your brand. But finding your voice and your audience is the most powerful first step.
Create a Personal Website
Now it’s time for your digital zip code. Websites are a necessity for anyone who is cultivating their personal brand. Without a website, the internet controls your brand reputation as there is no central source of info when someone Googles your name. Without a definitive destination, bad press might be the first search result; this will surely turn off most would-be visitors.
Don’t rely on social media to be your home; that’s leased real estate. You don’t own your image there, you are only borrowing that space to spread the word. Your website is your domain, literally; don’t do this process without creating a rock solid web presence.
Whenever possible, create a website with a URL that is consistent with your full name (firstandlastname.com) so that when people search for you, it will be the first result.
On your site, be sure to include professional photos of yourself, a bio framing yourself as an industry expert, links to your personal brand’s social channels, and a link back to your company website.
Additionally, if you have any external articles or blogs you’ve written, link to these as well. You should have more content on your site than just some external links, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Since you’re just starting out, you don’t need to hire a development firm to build some A-1 destination; start by using a service like Wiseintro or Squarespace as they are quick, easy, affordable, and look amazing.
Provide Value through Content
In addition to the content you have been cranking out on social media, you are going to need to provide your website visitors with an abundance of valuable information as well.
This means that you need to implement a blog or vlog section to your site where you can build a portfolio of thought-leadership-type pieces that provides your audience with unique and pragmatic knowledge and tools. Be sure to share these materials across your social properties as well to drive additional traffic and engagement.
Additionally, to help give your audience something more substantial to chew on, implement a piece of specialized content like an eBook, premium checklist, or similar download. These can be given out for free in exchange for an email address. This way you can begin to build an email database of interested prospects for the next phase.
Remember, the ultimate goal of your site is to reinforce your personal brand while providing visitors with unparalleled value through content and other offerings.
Launch Your Product
To ensure that your personal brand does not just become an affiliate portal, develop your own products or services to sell to your audience.
The biggest thing that this will provide to your brand is credibility and credence; not money (though that is a nice perk).
For most personal brands, the best offerings to sell are knowledge. This could be books, speaking events, in-person or online courses, and similar ways of transmitting in-depth information.
As you begin to cultivate and refine your personal brand through content, recognition, and the natural evolutionary process, you will begin to develop new and exciting opportunities that unchain you from relying on the sole success of your company. Through this route, you can become a success in your own right, and find an entirely new career path that can lead to much more profitable and stimulating pursuits.
Self Branding Photo via Shutterstock