Taking the leap to running your own business has many challenges. Do I have the money to do this? Do I incorporate or become an LLC? Do I need an employee? Do I need a name? What if I fail?
When I took the leap and started my business, I toyed with many different names, but nothing fit. The few ideas I did come up with were taken (which questioned my creativity, because they sure seemed original to me!). After awhile, I realized that I was trying to brand myself by coming up with a business name. I then decided I didn’t need to come up with a name, I would just use mine. I would be my own brand.
Being your own brand has its own set of challenges. It’s the first and foremost way you will advertise your business, always. When I first made this decision, I had a small panic attack. I’m a very open person online. I pretty much communicate online as I would in person, what you see is what you get. No one has ever said to me “you are not how I expected you to be!” when they meet me in person (other than the occasional “you’re shorter than I expected.”). I’m actually proud of that, because it is my belief that you should just be open and honest, good or bad, in how you present yourself online. But that is a different post for a different day. However, I noticed I was beginning to be a little more conscious of how I interacted and presented myself online.
Here are some tips for having a strong personal brand:
1. Google your name. The first thing you need to do if you want to use your name as your business is see what comes up in a search. Is it public photos from your last weekend in Rocky Point? The weekend you have fuzzy memories about? That’s probably not good. Is it the Twitter account you created so you can talk politics and argue rudely with anyone who disagrees with your position? That might not look good either. Here is another reason to have a good online profile. A Google search of your name is a great start to figuring out the next step, which is-
2. Have a Facebook Page for your business. Facebook is still the most used social media site. If you don’t separate your business from your personal account, you’re going to get in trouble. I have a Facebook page for my business, and that is the link that comes up when you search my name on Google. The same applies to Twitter.
3. Know your business. If you are a media personality and your shtick is to be outgoing and offensive, then these tips probably do not apply. If you are a bikini model, then scantily-clad photos probably won’t hurt your personal brand. If you are an attorney who practices family law, that’s a different story.
4. Decide overlap. I have friends who knew me before I started my business. I also have made new friends who found me after I started my business. Some I add as friends on my personal Facebook page, and some I don’t. It’s really your discretion. Facebook has the best privacy settings of any network. I have lists, and have control over who gets to see what in my personal life. I also do not need everyone who I friend on Facebook knowing everything about my life, so I make sure I have the proper settings for anything I do online. Twitter is the same way. Many posts are the same, but I also know it is a more public forum, so I take more discretion when posting things there. My life is mine, and I will choose how I want to share it with you.
5. Stay true to yourself. Never change who you are because it might cost you business. If you know your brand, and for the most part keep your business separate from pleasure, you should be fine. Also go with your gut. If you question something you are about to post, maybe you should think twice about posting it. Things can always be interpreted the wrong way, and you have no control over that. If you are ok with what you are posting or saying, then don’t worry about how it will be perceived. If someone has an issue with something, most likely they will come to you anyway. If it keeps someone from doing business with you and you don’t think you did anything wrong, then you do not need their business.
Do you have anything to add? Tell us in the comments! Being your own brand can be a little terrifying if you aren’t used to being so exposed. Be conscious of your actions, follow these tips, and always have confidence in yourself and who you are. That is what is going to bring you business, and success.