In many people’s careers, mine included, you sometimes get to the point where you’ve run out of room in your personal brand. For me, I had a stellar career in finance but got to the point where I no longer enjoyed the work or the brand that I’d built up for myself as the “young financial guru”. It was time for a reset.
I managed my reset rather poorly as I meandered my way towards my new brand and I learned many lessons along the way, my hope is that you’ll be able to avoid some of the mistakes I made during my transition and personal rebranding.
I left my career in finance and knew little about what I wanted to do in my next phase, I had vague generalities of working with companies, improving their web presence, assisting with their marketing, but little in terms of tangible expertise. It took me some time to determine what it was that was a unique proposition about what I had to offer.
I left finance and burst onto the local scene as a website and marketing expert, a solopreneur with strong ambitions but little to show for my “expertise”. I had built some non-profit websites and helped with their marketing and branding. It was something that I knew that I could do for companies, but I hadn’t before. Here are some of the things that I wish I knew before I switched gears:
- Know your market
- Know what you have to offer
- Start before you stop
Know your market
Every marketing book you’ll ever read will tell you to know your market. I thought I knew mine before I started my rebranding but I had too little knowledge. What I knew was that I’d start out serving the “small business market”. That was the extent of my knowledge. I thought I could figure out the needs and wants as I went along, but quickly found that I knew far too little early on.
Knowing the general market of “small business” was not enough. Here are some things that you can do to help you understand your market better:
- Call the local chamber of commerce and ask questions, they’re a fantastic resource for you
- Attend events where your target market is in attendance, learn what resonates best
- Find a mentor who has already achieved success with the market you are looking to attract
Know what you have to offer
I knew that I could do many things for companies, but my offerings were far too wide and I spent time chasing wild geese. Hone down to the few things where you have the best advantages over potential competitors and focus on those few things, if you’re too broad, you’ll spend time and resources chasing clients for products that may never exist.
Start before you stop
Do your research while you still have a paycheck. Nights and weekends are great times for you to do your market research and determine your best new personal brand. When you have already transitioned and are waiting on your first client, or maybe the gap between your third and fourth, you’ll wish you had put in the time up front to learn before you were begging for your next gig. When you have spent the time in advance you can be more selective with who you take on as clientele and that will serve you well into the future.
Best of luck on your rebranding!
Nick Inglis is an expert on enterprise software and is the author of the AIIM SharePoint Governance Toolkit. Nick has worked with companies as diverse as Ernst & Young, Shell and Canon. Nick is an independent consultant and noted keynote speaker on the topics of SharePoint, Information Management and Collaborative Technologies.