Are you a company of one? Does your business wear your own name? It’s a situation many small business owners find themselves in. They are their company. It has its advantages, but there are also downsides. An upside is being the star. You are the celebrity of your business. Your status may also be the biggest disadvantage. It’s a big responsibility.
Of course, you didn’t become a business owner to have less responsibility. If you had, you wouldn’t have made yourself the brand. You would’ve given the business a name of its own, built it up, and then sold it, probably outsourcing everything along the way. No, you want the challenge because you want success.
The responsibility of being the brand simply needs to be manageable, which it is. How would anyone else make it if it weren’t? You are a solopreneur. In business, therefore, know your numbers, master the sales process, and learn how to market this new expanded version of yourself – the business brand.
1. Integrate Your Principles
If the principles the business needs to stand on for success aren’t your own, then make them yours. If you can’t do it, then maybe you’re using your identity as a brand in the wrong line of work. The business should reflect the principles you believe in. It should help communicate and demonstrate your moral and ethical position. Inject this aspect of your personality into your business. It gives your brand flavor and helps you set clear expectations
You keep your principles associated with your name. It can be your greatest competitive advantage. Create a list of the principles you believe are right in interpersonal business relationships. Expound on ways your business can live up to those principles. Then use this information as content on your company website and sales and marketing materials. It gives leads insight into what they can expect as your customer. It can help you close more deals.
2. Make a Seamless Presentation
Some solopreneurs feel at an advantage when they hear that people buy from people they like. Sales experts know the old adage isn’t always true. A great offer well presented can push the presenter’s likeability off the table as a deciding factor. Aim to have both advantages. Create brand loyalty that’s hard for a competitor to undermine.
Familiarity is a factor in being liked. You want your customers to like your brand and chose it. Big enterprises like Coca-Cola and Nike spend millions to get their brand mentioned and their logo shown. The majority of these appearances have no call to action. The only purpose is to help their brands stay well-known. They want to make as many consumers as possible familiar, as it can lead to trust and the trying of their products. These brands have authority.
Keeping in mind that you are your brand, think of all the ways and places your brand makes appearances. It’s not just when potential customers encounter your ads or marketing materials, but when they see you and speak with you. Every experience of your brand should be a consistent, accurate representation of it.
Embody your business and all that it stands for in the way you walk, talk, dress, and act when you’re on your clock. The same should be in the quality and style of your sales presentations, marketing materials, and goods and services. All should be an embodiment of you.
3. Be Authentic in Communications
When addressing customers, many solopreneurs default into the language they think is right for business. They say things they assume sound professional, such as using ‘we’ when referring to their business of one. The chance to be authentic is one of the biggest advantages of being your own brand. Why miss out? Such efforts to sound professional rather than sincere can make you seem phony, encouraging distrust.
But being authentic in business communications isn’t about being yourself. It’s about being thoughtful. Listening is a form of communication. Think of the error salespeople make when they ramble on about the features of their product and don’t seek to understand the customer’s needs. It’s a turnoff. Authenticity positions you as a leader through your actions rather than through your claims. It earns you respect and that respect carries over to your business.
4. Take Your Place
Your business is based on your talent and passion for your specialty. Being the best at what you do gives it an edge. But running a business can require work that’s outside the realm of your talents. Trying to play all the roles yourself can weaken your business. It gives you less time to concentrate on the areas in which you excel.
Meanwhile, the roles you stretch yourself to fill are beyond the reach of your professional aptitude. It’s not that you lack the smarts to do them, but they haven’t been the focus of your training and experience. The effect is the same as hiring unqualified candidates for mission-critical positions that require advanced education. And, as a busy business owner, you don’t have time to spend months or years training for each position. Especially not if sales must be delayed for you to do so.
Whether its sales, marketing, admin duties, or simply keeping the office clean, the solution is to outsource or hire. Spend your precious time where it counts and let customers experience your true talents.
5. Be Yourself
Having your name on your business can come with a lot of prestige. It can push you out of your comfort zone, and that can be a positive thing. It can help you grow. The trouble comes when you try to present yourself as something other than who you are. This can happen when the drive for profits is stronger than the call of sense.
You may feel driven to impress a certain prospect and seal the deal no matter what. They may have demands that, in reality, you can’t or don’t want to fulfill. Inflating your abilities and making false promises isn’t the solution. What’s right for you is right for your business, and that makes it right for your customers. Having your business fueled by customers who have unreasonable expectations is stressful. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.
How to Market Yourself: The Bottom Line
As a solopreneur with your name on your business, you are the company brand. Marketing your business means marketing yourself and vice versa. To market is to promote and sell. Every interaction between you and your customers, every appearance of your name, face, and trademarks in the professional arena communicates something about your business. The situation is neither to be taken lightly nor feared.
To market your brand, define the personality of your business and your place within it. Commit yourself the consistent portrayal of that definition. Use it in all you do as you work to get your name and brand in front of as many prospects as possible.