As an entrepreneur, your personal brand is just as important–if not more important–as your company’s brand.
When beginning a new business venture, it may be easy to focus on your company’s brand and completely forget your own. But the days of an invisible founder are long gone. We’ve now entered a time where a highly visible CEO is the norm, as well as a unique opportunity for growth and success.
When your sales leads, team members, and marketing materials are largely garnered from how people feel about you personally–it’s easy to see how your personal brand can make or break your business. Developing and maintaining your identity should be first priority, with your company’s brand following suit.
Here are seven tips to get on the right track to building an exceptional brand as an entrepreneur
1. Build your brand with a direction in mind. As an entrepreneur, your personal brand is tied directly to the business or businesses you’ve built. Developing a strong personal brand means positioning yourself in the direction you would–and your business–would like to go. When developing your brand, it’s important to highlight the key attributes and values which you hold close, but don’t forget to let your brand embrace those aspects you hope to attain in the future–like innovation or expert status.
2. Find your niche and dominate. Fitting in isn’t acceptable when it comes to your personal brand. Brand success is often related to the unique aspect which sets you apart from the rest. Defining and projecting what makes your personal brand different will help you stand out from the crowd. If you can’t find a category to stand out in, create your own and dominate it. Your business brand will soon follow.
3. Implement your personal marketing strategy. Gaining recognition and traction for your personal brand is generally done through a carefully planned and well-executed marketing strategy. Similar to the marketing strategy you have for your business, your personal marketing strategy will work to identify and reach your target audience. Your strategy should be as unique as your personal brand and directly work to accomplish the goals you’ve set in place for yourself. Set up ways to measure your success throughout your implementation.
4. Reach expert status. Thought leadership in your space is a clear sign of a strong personal brand. All entrepreneurs should work to leverage their personal brand to reach expert status. Developing traction within your industry can be done in many ways. From teaching workshops to gaining influence on social platforms, your entrepreneurial personal brand should take a variety of approaches to showcasing your expertise.
5. Consistency is key. If you’re looking for long-term success, consistency is the secret ingredient. Developing and maintaining a level of trust with those who matter most to you and your business can be effectively reached through showcasing yourself consistently. Whether it’s online, in print, or face-to-face, prevailing consistency will allow you to gain trusted footing with your personal brand.
6. Get personal. Eliminating the personal and humanistic side of your brand is likely to hurt you in the long run. Brands lacking a personal element aren’t relatable and often come off as cold and serious. These two aspects rarely gain trust. Entrepreneurs looking to personalize their brands should consider portraying a more human image. Networking is a great way to actively showcase your personal side.
7. Be accountable. Brand accountability is crucial in both the good and bad times you are likely to experience throughout your career. This act not only displays your value in honesty, but increases the trust of your target audience. As an entrepreneur, trials and tribulations are common, and consistent honesty is necessary. Overall accountability for your brand and your business will position you for success.
Creating a powerful brand is necessary when you’re competing in a marketplace. Growing your personal brand to expert stature will allow you to build a strong platform from which you can direct your business.
Do you have a personal branding tip you think every entrepreneur should utilize?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.