We live in a time where entrepreneurship is trendy and almost every second person alive is trying to get in on the action. You see the success stories of companies like Facebook and Twitter etc and maybe think to yourself that it seems easy enough to give it a shot. Building a personal brand and getting your personal branding right as an entrepreneur is a process of which the importance cannot be stressed enough.
Finding your voice, create a solid strategy, writing a good brand positioning statement, creating an awesome visual identity, being consistent throughout your channels, creating good content regularly, building up a social media following, etc are all important factors in the mix of building a successful personal brand as an entrepreneur.
If some of the successful entrepreneurs today have made it look easy and you think all you need is a great idea, then you might be in for a big surprise. You have to remember that for every success story, there are probably a thousand stories of failure. Building up a personal brand takes time and hard work.
Here is my guide on how you can get started and the important steps you should take note of in order to create and build a successful personal brand as an entrepreneur.
Be an Entrepreneur
Branding yourself or your personal brand as an entrepreneur does require one important pre-requisite: You have to be an entrepreneur.
Now, this might sound facetious, but it’s absolutely true. Branding yourself as an entrepreneur without actually having built anything of value in your life is a recipe for failure. Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example of this.
Gary Vaynerchuk has built up a very strong and successful personal brand based on his entrepreneurial success in the businesses he has built up over the years. Similarly, many other entrepreneurs that have built up successful businesses have created strong personal brands like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, etc.
Audiences have become much more aware of the world of entrepreneurship and if you think that you can fool people by “faking it until making it”, then you are wrong. You might be among the small percentage that can pull it off, but I would not advise to even take the chance.
The internet is littered with fake “gurus” and “successful entrepreneurs” that are teaching other people how to make money by using scams and unethical tactics to lure people into buying their expensive courses, which is the only way that they are “successful entrepreneurs”. Although some of them might have found some success with these kinds of methods, the vast majority fail and get called out.
So just go out and start something, make a success of it and create that as a basis for your personal brand as an entrepreneur. It doesn’t have to be a 100 million dollar company, but you should at least have a point of reference for what qualifies you as an entrepreneur. I have personally built up a strong personal brand offline, on the backs of the companies that I have built up or helped to transform, and I use these experiences as my point of reference to validate my personal brand.
Find Your Why
What is the reason that you want to focus time and energy on building your personal brand?
There can be loads of answers to this question and too many options to get into in a simple bullet point, but it is a fundamental step in the process that most of the other steps will be based on.
Find Your Value
An important step is to find the value that you can bring to any space that you want to present yourself in. Almost all interactions with brands are transactional and personal brands are no different. People you engage with are expecting to receive something from you in exchange for their support and spending their time and money on you instead of someone else.
There are so many channels and places out there where people can get tons of value absolutely free. Gary Vaynerchuk, once again, is a great example of this. He is on every single platform imaginable and produces more content every day than almost anyone else. His content consists of 100% free advice on marketing and adds a lot of value to anyone wanting to create an online brand. He literally gives away all of his best ideas for free.
Many other people are doing similar things and you need to find your unique way of how you can add value to people for them to engage with your brand.
Creating a brand strategy is key to understand what you want to achieve out from your personal brand and will also help you to create a roadmap of how to get there.
Envision your end goal and the personal brand that you want to be with all your successes already achieved. This is a great starting point to then reverse engineer your back to where you are now. You can also look at that “person” that you are as that successful brand and imagine how that person would be. What they would say and do etc, and then. Be then try to be that person now.
Strategy not only helps you to work out the steps of how to get that ultimate goal, but also gives you something to focus on while you’re on the journey. You have to constantly make every decision on your journey with the focus on your end goal and ask yourself how this decision would impact that goal. Does a decision or action get you closer to your goal or is it not in line with what you want to achieve.
Having a clear and well through-out personal brand strategy can help solidify your branding and marketing efforts to help you achieve your goals faster.
Personal Brand Positioning Statement
It is very important to write a personal brand positioning statement. If you are not familiar with brand positioning statements or how to write one, you can check out my article on “How to Write a Personal Brand Positioning Statement”.
Your positioning statement will help you to identify your exact target audience, your unique space that you will fill in the market and the value that you will add to that space, and how you will create that unique value or product.
Your brand positioning statement is the beacon on which you can pin all of your ideas and see how it translates to your brand promise. This is not usually something that is public. Most people tend to have their positioning statement more as a personal reference that translates into the actions that cause people to have the same ideas about your brand.
If your audience’s opinion and idea about your brand match your brand positioning statement, then it’s a clear sign that you are on the right path.
Creating a visual identity is another important step to visually differentiate you from your competitors and also bring consistency to your brand for people to recognize you easier when they interact with your brand.
A good visual identity consists of 5 important elements:
- Logo – The logo would normally consist of an icon or symbol that would be representative of your brand and/or value. Most personal brands, however, prefer to use text only, designed in a way to present your brand as more personal.
- Colors – Colors play an important role in conveying certain emotions and characteristics that represent your brand. Below is a “psychology of color” chart to better illustrate how colors can be used effectively in branding.
- Font – Different font styles also create different representations of your brand through its visual identity. Below are examples of how the different font styles translate into different brand representations.
- Design Element – A design element is optional, but can be another effective tool to help differentiate you from your competitors. Design elements are not that common in personal brands but can be a nice addition if you can find something that works very well with your brand.
- Tagline – A tagline wouldn’t technically fall under a visual identity, but I usually include it in the mix as it usually goes with your logo and thus forms part of the visual aspect of your brand that people see. It is important to take your time and create a very good tagline that captures the essence of who you are or what you represent, preferably in 7 words or less.
Check out my complete guide to creating a brand identity here.
This is where the magic happens for most personal brands and entrepreneurs are no different.
Gone are the days of having to network in your local area to build up a brand and reputation. The internet, with its vast array of platforms to reach people on, is the most important place where personal brands can reach and build up a following.
Not all social media are equal in terms of opportunity, reach and growth potential, and it depends on your niche. Being an entrepreneur, learning how the different platforms work and creating a robust strategy for each platform you decide to create content on is key to your success.
Keep up to date with all the latest developments and changes within each platform, as each new development creates new opportunities and it’s always a game of first come first serve. Early adopters usually have a clear advantage if they are strategically efficient with the content they produce.
Some of the most popular platforms that you can join and promote your personal brand as an entrepreneur are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter & LinkedIn. And less so, but still relevant Pinterest & TikTok.:
Trust is a very important factor in the success of personal brands and takes time to build up. It can take years to build up a good reputation in the market offline and similarly, building up trust with an audience online take time as well. That’s where value comes in and can be a great way to help speed up the trust-building process.
“You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want.”― Zig Ziglar
That brings us to content.
You might have heard the saying “content is king” and it is absolutely the case in the age we are living in. People, more than ever before, consume content in vast numbers on a daily basis. YouTube videos are being watched for longer and hour-long podcasts are very popular. Longer form content is a great opportunity for personal brands to really add value to an audience and increase engagement.
So what is the secret formula for creating content to attract more people to your brand?
Value value value! That is the key to building up a great personal brand. Adding as much value as possible to your audience with your content will help you to accelerate the success of your personal brand.
It is also important for you to engage with your audience.
This can be a great way to get feedback in terms of what type of content they prefer and what specific problems they are facing, or needs they have, that you could provide the solutions to.
Social media is a great tool for engagement and gives you the chance to connect with people one-on-one who are interested in your brand and/or the products or services you offer.
This can be a time-consuming exercise but plays an important part in building up a personal brand, especially if you are just starting out. If no one knows who you are, then you need to get yourself out there and join their conversations by adding value to their engagements. Over time, this will translate into followers of your brand.
With the current state of entrepreneurship being a trendy thing to do, you can imagine that the internet is overcrowded with “entrepreneurs” and it will take some work to stand out from the crowd.
But by creating a good personal brand, having a solid strategy, focusing on adding value, creating good content consistently and actively engaging with your audience, you can grow a personal brand as an entrepreneur and push some of the wannabes out of the way.
It’s also important to realize that, just like anything else in business, it will take time and that you need to be patient.