Personal branding: Sometimes your work doesn’t speak for itself

Why do small businesses fail?  Many businesses have failed because they could not generate enough sales to cover their expenses and make a profit.  In short, no one knew they existed.  It doesn’t matter if you are the most meticulous landscaper, talented web designer or experienced carpenter in town, if your target market doesn’t know you exist or that you are the best in your field, you won’t get sales.  But let’s face it, how many new businesses have money to launch expensive marketing campaigns to get the word out? 

Last week Halton Region’s Summer Company student entrepreneurs were treated to a presentation and discussion on personal branding.  The speaker, Molly McCoubrey, is a marketing specialist with Loblaws and has her own small business, Molly McCoubrey Designs.  Her husband is also a small business owner so Molly has experience with branding using both small and large budgets. Molly’s success within the company hasn’t come easy.  In the early stages of her career she found herself struggling to find her “fit”.  She watched as others received promotions and bigger assignments that she felt she should have been considered for.  As a young business person, she was inexperienced in the art of personal branding and self-promotion and felt that her work should speak for itself.   Molly quickly realized that in the business world, that isn’t the case.  To be successful, you need to be aware of how your personal brand affects the perceptions of those around you.

Molly decided to work on developing her “personal brand”.  She joined Toastmasters and worked on her presentation skills. As a result, Molly was much better able to communicate her ideas and accomplishments at work. Through this hard work and self discovery she became more confident and aware of how she was seen within the company.

Molly’s message is an important one for anyone starting a small business.  You are your business, everywhere, all the time.  As a small business owner, developing your “personal brand” must be part of your marketing plan.   If you are using social media to network, building a personal brand is extremely important.

Your personal brand will evolve over time.  It’s not something you can sit down one evening and decide on.   A starting point may be to ask friends and family to describe your best attributes.  Do you consider yourself funny, intelligent, caring, meticulous, daring?  Next examine these traits.  Are they traits that you want to include in your personal brand toolkit?  If so, think about how you will use these to your advantage.  This will help you:

  1. Design your business card
  2. Design your website
  3. Come up with a slogan or logo
  4. Develop your portfolio
  5. Develop your Linkedin profile
  6. Select clothing
  7. Develop your email signature

How wonderful that our student entrepreneurs were given an opportunity to hear about the importance of personal branding.  Whether or not these students pursue entrepreneurship as their career goal, they have learned an important lesson.

Thank you Molly!

Tell us your story – how have you developed your personal brand? At the end of the month we’ll submit all entries into a draw for a chance to win a voucher for one of our upcoming semimars (value $25). 

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter. You can also check out our Summer Company participants on Facebook.

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