I know I am not the only one noticing the innovative small businesses flourishing. This is definitely the year of small businesses, branding and creative thinking. I never had dreams of owning my own business or being my own brand, but your calling is something that you just can’t escape. It will appear to be your best friend and your worse night mare, but I love to think of life as the greater the risk, the greater the reward. Everyone is their own brand. Whether you are thinking of creating a brand, starting your own business or you already have one, I just wanted to provide you with a few tips for a smooth transition, as this can be an overwhelming experience for many. My suggestion, through all the trials and tribulations, just remember be your own “best brand”
1. Narrow a target audience: I believe one of the biggest mistakes is thinking that every person has to love our business or be interested in our brand. Sometimes choosing a smaller sector who would TRULY be interested in a product or service is key. It’s quality over quantity meaning, it’s better to have 50 loyal customers versus 100 customers who only support once.
2. Be unique: Separate your self from your competition. For example, if you are interested opening a salon. You should ask yourself a couple questions: Who is your competition? What is your competitive advantage? Yes, everyone is doing hair, but what makes your styles or services unique? Do you provide signature deep conditioners, or do you provide a free trim before every style. Consumers notice the little things that give you brand loyalty.
3. Live in your truth: Don’t start a business or brand that your are not passionate about. You are a walking billboard, therefore if you are not true to your brand, potential supporters will become insecure and seek out other businesses or brands in which they feel more comfortable with. Living in your truth will give you the confidence you need for when opportunities present themselves. If you are true, you will be ready, and if you stay ready, you will never have to get ready!
4. Don’t allow your own self to get in your way: Many people get overwhelmed about the ground work necessary to build a business or brand. They fail themselves before the business fails. I can not stress enough the importance of exercising your ability to “Switch things up” or reinvent something that did not work as planned. You should set your standards high, even if others don’t see the potential.
5. Be professional: I have solicited many businesses that has an enormous amount of potential, but they lack professionalism mainly do to becoming comfortable. It’s important to hold yourself accountable as well as everyone who has a vested interested in your brand or business. Appearance and how you present yourself is definitely a key contributor to the overall success of your business. What statement are you trying to make about your business or brand?
6. Social media (A blessing and a curse): People read and analyzing every thing you post. Be yourself, but be professional. Remember you are building a brand, posting and commenting on non business related issues can cause conflict with your supporters. It may be a good ideal to have a personal page however, you must always consider your audience.
7. Presentation is everything : The way you market is just as important as the product or service you are selling. Whether promoting or presenting, you must always dress the part. It is proven that your appearance can have some impact on how your audience reacts when presented with a product or service.
8. Network: When you are genuine, it is even easier to make genuine connections. It’s not about how many mentors you have, but more so the quality of the relationships you build. It’s important never to burn bridges, you never know when you may need a reference, advice or favor. Remember word of mouth is everything when building a brand or business, always be considerate when speaking to others in or out of your industry.
9. “The customer is always right”: As a business owner or brand, your customer is one of the most important people you will come in contact with. You should take responsibility when a customer is not happy. Have you ever noticed that people are quicker to share a bad experience than a good one? Be accountable to ensure that every customer you come in contact with is satisfied with your product or service. By doing this you will create and increase longevity for years.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help: You can still be the face of your brand without doing it entirely by yourself. It can be so easy to get discouraged when people don’t support your initial vision. Keep pushing and trust yourself and what you bring to the table. However, you must be open to accept “CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM”. Ask for feedback or opinions from friends and staff. The power of patience and planning can take you further than you can even imagine.
11. Re-evaluate your surroundings: Surround yourself with people who want to see do well. Do not EXPECT people to work as hard as you. It is not their JOB to promote your brand/business unless you have hired them. Do not expect people to always support your brand or business regardless of the relationship you have with them. It is your job to market and build your brand. Ultimately people will support what they are engaged in so it’s important to think of ways we can increase engagement instead of begging for support.
12. Don’t forget to give back – No matter what your brand is, giving back to the community is big. There are so many ways that you can give back, and it doesn’t HAVE to involve money, it can simply involve time or providing opportunities or the chance for someone else to learn. If we want to keep resources and knowledge in rotation, then we must give back. Corporate social responsibility is PROVEN to impact consumers attitudes towards businesses and brands. Big or little, don’t forget to give back in SOME capacity to help the community and our youth who are our future. Revenue is important, but so is the responsibility to make the world a better place beyond your business or brand.