FINANCE: SUCCESS is driven by your personal BRAND

It is the dream of many to one day become successful entrepreneurs running a profitable business. While many people venture into business every single day, their success rate depends on

  • PublishedMay 23, 2014

It is the dream of many to one day become successful entrepreneurs running a profitable business. While many people venture into business every single day, their success rate depends on the brand they build around themselves. Being successful in every area of life, especially as an entrepreneur, means you have to be the brand that helps you sell your business ideas and products. As the face of your business you must structure your communication to create a positive, directed image of who you are and what you are about before you can begin to talk about your business ideas.

If your dream is to achieve financial success as an entrepreneur, how you present yourself and your brand promise is the most important factor in establishing a successful business in today’s highly competitive world. Whatever business idea you have in mind, its unlikely that you will not find other people doing it, and, still, many others will follow in your footsteps. One thing you must bear in mind is that most people have embraced a digital lifestyle and you must become aware of the way in which new technologies such as the Internet and social media are shaping your image so that you can control how you and your business are perceived.

This is why branding becomes so important. What is branding? Branding, at the corporate level is marketing the company’s value including products, services, people, advertising, positioning and culture. At the individual level, branding means creating a clear message of who you are in all aspects of your life, and acting – professionally and personally – in ways that are congruent with your message. Consciously creating your brand allows you to tap into your power and create the opportunities for your dreams to come true.

Creating your brand promise

When you are trying to uncover your brand and design your brand promise, you need to identify the market for your skills, your strengths, your values, your style, what makes you unique, and your most effective channels of communication. Although this may sound daunting, the key is to look at the situation objectively, and make sure that everything you do and communicate is in line with your goals and vision. If it isn’t, you must first close the gap so that you can give your business idea a chance to evolve and become successful.

You may find that you are much more accomplished than people realise or you give yourself credit for. Or you may find that you have changed from who you were when you started working and were younger, and who you are today when you are dreaming big. Clear knowledge of your own brand will help you venture into a business where you will not only become successful, but will also find fulfillment.

To begin working on your brand, first make a list of your assets – your positive qualities. What are your skills? What kind of business line do you want to get into?  What are the tools in the tool kit you intend to use in starting your business? What are the characteristics that make you attractive, likeable, and successful? Think about the assets you have both in your personal life and your professional life and how you will use these to propel your growth in your business. Engage an honest friend, colleague or a former boss to describe you. Professionally, may be you have a keen eye for detail, excellent creative talents, or you are a superb communicator. As a friend, perhaps you are funny, loyal, and always willing to help out in crisis.

These are important assets in building a business and are some of the things you need to consider when trying to define who you are and who you are not. Many people go into business hoping they can be as successful as so and so, not knowing that this success is driven by the character of the person managing the business and his ability to apply all his assets, be a team player and attract customers.

What are your values?

The values you hold will be important for your success in business. If you are not an honest person, you will conduct your business in a dishonest manner and at the end of day your dishonest character will be exposed and people will shun you. List the values you hold dear and which you will not be willing to compromise. What is important about the way you conduct your life? Have you outgrown your childhood values? Your values should be the same when they relate to your personal or professional activities. You must state clearly values you will not sacrifice, no matter how profitable the business promises to be.

You may have learnt your values from religious tradition, from your family, or from your friends. If you are struggling to identify your values, look to your close friends and ask yourself why they are your friends. Look at the things you do with money and how you spend your free time. Observe the world around you and ask yourself if you agree with what you see. Are the things happening in our times and especially in the field you want to start your business venture in, in line with your values?

What makes you different?

Once you understand your assets and your values, the next thing you should do is list what makes you unique. What’s different about what you say versus what your neighbour is says? How will your business be different from others? If you are planning to start a hairdressing salon, how different will it be from the ones on the same street? Why should anyone want to connect with you or do business with you? What are you passionate about? What do you really love and why do you want to move in that direction? It is what is unique in you that will differentiate your business from others in the same line.

You advance much more quickly professionally and in business if you make a competitive analysis of your field and decide how you stand out. What do you bring to the business line you want to engage in that will add value? This will be the thing that you choose to highlight when you communicate about yourself.

Be careful what you post online

You should also understand that your personal brand affects your professional brand and therefore be very careful about what you post on social media. Remember that what you and your friends consider funny others may consider offensive. It goes without saying that you should never send revealing photos of yourself to anyone electronically. All these things will come up when someone searches for you and your business online. Things that you did when you were young may have seemed harmless then, but they may harm your career or business and make people question your character, values, or judgment later in life. If you become famous or successful, zealous people will dig everything you ever did or posted on social media and you want to make sure that you are not ashamed of your past.

Create your style of delivery

What differentiates a brand or person within a given public space is his or her style of delivery. It is critical today that you develop the skill of communicating well. Whether you write a post on social media, create an advertisement, deliver a power point presentation, write a letter, make a telephone call or send a text message, you must be able to get your message across clearly and directly. As you rise through the corporate ranks or become successful in business, you may get media interviews and you must know how to speak concisely to the press.

If you are communicating via email, letter or social media, think carefully what you are about to share. Do you have a tendency to be verbose? If you take too long to get to the point, you will lose your listeners. Do you send hundreds of emails on topics that are important to you? You may turn off people on the other end because you are communicating too frequently. Do you reflect carefully in the power of the words you use? Ask yourself if the message is consistent with the person you are and the person you want to be. Make sure your style is not getting in the way of your message. Your awareness of your brand should make it easer to tweak your message so that it becomes even more powerful and unique.

After taking a hard look at your personal and professional presentations, you should become honest and conduct a gap analysis of your brand. Where do you fail to live up to the promise of your brand? Are there certain things you do online or socially that are not helping you? You can’t easily erase anything that’s already in cyberspace, but you can commit to conduct yourself in a different way going forward. If you drink heavily and mess around, just stop it if you truly wish to find success.

Identifying your market

If you are planning to develop a business brand, you must identify the audience with whom you would like to communicate. This is your market. Make a list of people in your profession and personal life whom you would like to reach. Study the marketplace to see the kind of people you wish to reach and make them your customers. Ask yourself what kind of dialogue you want to engage with them.

When you are building your brand, make sure that all your messages are effective – that is, they are meaningful, not empty; they have content, and aren’t sent for the sake of meeting a quota. Making it meaningful means setting aside time in your schedule to carefully craft emails, letters and updates. Make a list of your channels of communication and what you want to say in each of them. And don’t forget the power of individual phone calls and face-to face engagements.

If you are publicising anything about yourself or your work as a new entrepreneur, it is not only content that matters – it’s consistency, too. For example, it’s absolutely critical to have business cards and letterheads ready to go before you enter any brand-related communication. All your visuals, taglines, and logos, invoices, and stationery should be consistent.

If you are looking for long lasting success, you should not forget to show gratitude to people engaging with you. Send them thank-you notes and you will gain more followers and make more sales. Whatever the channel, you need to make sure that each and every communication you make fulfills what you promised as a brand. Create dialogue with your audience and diligently keep up that dialogue. Become a smart businessman or woman who is informed by your customers.

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