Whether you like it or not, you and everybody around have a personal brand. The interactions you have with the people in your personal and professional lives define who you are. Or rather, this creates an image of your personality that helps people decide what they think about you.
According to Jeff Bezos, the brain behind Amazon:
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
I think nothing sums up what personal branding means better than the industrial giant.
Solo Entrepreneurs and Personal Branding
As a solo entrepreneur, your personal brand is critical for building a positive image of your business.
You might wonder why the emphasis on solo entrepreneur. The answer to that lies in the definition of solo entrepreneurs.
Who is a solo entrepreneur?
The term entrepreneur refers to anyone who sets up a business and takes on financial risks to earn a profit. Our industrial magnate, Jeff Bezos is one of the many examples of an entrepreneur.
Going off of that, a solo entrepreneur refers to an entrepreneur who has the sole ownership of a business. In our marketing lingo, these are also called solopreneurs.
Since these solo entrepreneurs are the face of their business, their personal branding has an overall impact on their image.
You’ll be representing your brand by yourself, on every outlet. You will have the sole responsibility for maintaining a consistent voice throughout.
Unfortunately, many solo entrepreneurs tend to disassociate their personal branding from their business. By doing so, it has a negative impact on their overall business image.
In this day and age of social media and other digital platforms, this can lead to them losing valuable clients.
Let’s take an example. Assume that a particular solo entrepreneur has no digital presence at all. No one knows who they are. In fact, Google searches also come up empty.
Now put yourself in a potential client’s position who receives a sales call from their company. When you don’t find anything on the owner themselves, how willing will you be to trust that business?
Most clients would not give a positive answer to the question. The reason for this will most likely be that the client can’t trust you.
Similarly, let’s take a particular business owner who has a bad reputation in real life. How many people do you think will be willing to invest in their venture when they know that the person isn’t reliable?
Even though this might sound very dramatic, don’t be daunted by that. There are many solo entrepreneurs who don’t focus on personal branding.
I used to be in a similar situation. Being unknowledgeable about this aspect of doing business, I was oblivious to personal branding.
Like every other solo entrepreneur, I was busy working behind the scenes, making sure that the product is impeccable. I did not realize that until I projected and marketed myself properly, a great product wouldn’t get me where I wanted to be.
I didn’t fully understand this until I myself lost some great opportunities. I had to make my way through. I needed to build reliability and trust and make myself seem likable to create solid standing in the market.
So why is personal branding so important?
Whether you’re building a business where you are the sole supplier of services such as a speaker, freelancer, coach, etc., or starting up a conventional company, building a brand is critical.
Today, the market is getting saturated with new players every single day. The entire premise of creating a personal brand is to distinguish yourself from the competition. If you’re unable to do so, you’ll just be a part of the crowd and will struggle to build a profitable business.
In the time when social media is at its prime, people are more interested in you than in your company. Hence, building an audience and connecting with them is the most effective way to build exposure to your company.
Instead of getting a formal update from the company, people respond more when the faces behind them deliver the same news in a more personalized way.
If you’re looking for an example, no one is better than Elon Musk. Even though he’s running some of the most world’s leading tech companies, he has more followers on his personal account than three of his companies combined. And I’m talking about Tesla, SolarCity, and SpaceX.
What can you do?
Even though it might seem difficult to build your personal brand, the process isn’t very difficult. Here are a few ways you can start getting yourself out there:
Building a Foundation
The first step to any personal brand is being authentic. The whole shtick of building a “persona” can seem like a façade. People are very perceptive and catch up on inconsistencies.
Instead of that, be your true self. The purpose here is to use your skills, values, and passions to showcase who you are. Using these strategically will make it easier for your audience to find you relevant.
Your Own Domain Name
Whether it’s with sharing content or building a brand, consistency is key. You want to make sure that there are no inconsistencies.
Getting your own domain name and then using that same name across all social media and digital outlets is necessary. You want to make sure that people not only remember you, but are able to find you.
Choose the Right Social Media Platform
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. These are four of the most popular and most heavily used social media platforms around the world. For professional outlets, LinkedIn is also a strong competitor.
If you haven’t set up an account yet, do so. Use the vision and values of your business to create your bio. While you can use these profiles to share business updates and industry news, make sure it is more personal. This way, more people will find it appealing.
Master Content Marketing
The best way to engage with your audience after social media is through content marketing. This includes setting up a blog or using other channels to share content with your target market.
If writing is not your strong suit, you have options like podcasts, live streaming, and YouTube videos. Do some research on your target audience and find out which channels they visit the most and choose the best one.
Make yourself visible
Publishing content and being active on social media is a great way to build a rapport with your audience. However, it can take some time.
You can expedite the process by increasing your visibility on other people’s outlets. For instance,
- You can write guest blogs on websites that are relevant to your area of business
- Give interviews; appear on podcasts, radio, etc.
- Go to conferences, events, and local meet-ups
Stay in the loop
Last but not least; make sure you are aware of what your competitors are doing. Differentiating yourself from others is the main goal of personal branding. Having an idea of what others are doing can trigger creativity and help you decide how you can differentiate from them.
In the end, how to succeed as a solo entrepreneur depends on how you brand yourself. Your own image is intertwined with your business can impact how many opportunities you are able to capitalize on.
- Be authentic and focus on your uniqueness
- Be consistent with your branding
- Get your own domain
- Build a community through social media
- Use other channels like podcasts and blogs
- Increase your visibility by making appearances at the right places
These tactics are only a few ways you can have power over your personal brand and establish more valuable relationships with your audience.