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    February-2013
 
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Adding Personal Branding Efforts Spurs Small Business Growth

Small business leaders need to demonstrate their expertise particularly in this difficult economic environment.

One way is building a personal brand.

If the movie “The Graduate” were being made today, its single word of advice to a perceived aspiring businessperson wouldn’t be “plastics”; it might well be “branding.”

That’s one expert’s watchword for would-be entrepreneurs.

Personal branding expert Colette Mason (http://personalbrandingforprofessionals.com/) says the secret to carving out a successful future as an entrepreneur is all about showcasing expertise, experience and endorsements to demonstrate that one’s enterprise is the perfect choice for the target market.

The simplest way to do that, she says, is with a great personal brand.  A personal brand is a clear and concise overview of what a newly formed company does and how it helps benefit its message’s audience. The brand always consists of how other people see the company in their mind’s eye.

The company needs to make sure that’s a positive impression, not a negative one.

A bad brand means struggling to get business, low-paid deals, and not being taken seriously by potential business partners – all of which keep a company stuck in a vicious circle fuelled by failure and disappointment.
An effective personal brand controls how a company is perceived, so with a higher-caliber professional status, it can maximize its potential to charge higher fees.

Who would you pay more to, a person who left you to read between the lines about what he or she does and for whom , or someone who lives and breathes the subject and can show a clear and in-depth understanding of how to help people just like you get great results?

Spend a moment to quickly review how the business might be perceived. Is that doing the enterprise justice, or could the  personal brand be improved?

Mason offers these key points that she says entrepreneurs need to consider when working to create or improve a brand:

  • What the owner and employees are good at and enjoy doing that the company can market. Setting up a new business takes time and effort; the owner doesn’t enjoy the work, he or she is much more likely to run out of steam and ultimately fail. Also, customers would see any faking interest, which would undermine the brand.
  • Make sure a market exists for what the company plans to do. If no one else is offering anything even vaguely similar in the marketplace, demand is probably lacking. A company is unlikely to strike gold with the entrepreneurial equivalent of something as revolutionary as the iPod. To minimize risk, an entrepreneur should look for people doing similar things, then  add a unique twist to the mix.
  • Professional background – how has the owner developed over time to be able to excel at helping people every time they’re brought in to assist?
  • Whom the owner helped – what results were achieved and for whom and how did they feel about relying on the support and the outcome they got?
  • Passion for the subject – the drive and enthusiasm for the specialist area.
  • Character – how the results were personally achieved – strong and silent, lively and inspirational, lighthearted and encouraging, drill-sergeant motivation?

“Never adapt a personal brand to be something you’re not,” Mason says. “Tempting though it might be to start acting like a different person, people will come unstuck. Not everyone wants to work with the same type of person – there is room for everyone.”

Take stand-up comedians for example. There are lots of different types of comedian out there, some comment on current affairs; some base their routine on the quirks of everyday life. Some act out what they’re saying to add impact. Some tell long stories; others tell a series of one-liners. Some were suits; others wear T-shirt and jeans; some wear fancy dress.

They still sell out venues to  hungry audiences; there is room for all the different styles. An entrepreneur doesn’t need to pretend to be something he or she is not to get businesses. People value honesty and authenticity, and it can be a great differentiator.

Once the brand is developed, keep it consistent. Keep all the social-media profiles consistent in tone. Check overviews regularly to make sure they’re still accurate.

“Position yourself as an expert with public speaking, publishing a book, regular blogging and PR. Get the message out to as many people as possible.“ That helps boost credibility and tell potential customers more about the business  and what it can do for them.


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