Where to begin?! There is so much you need to take into consideration when starting your own business and it’s hard to know where to start. Truthfully you need to be doing everything all at once because everything is of equal importance. If I had to pick the most crucial thing to keep in mind as you move forward it’s your brand. Whether or not you have done any “branding” yet is irrelevant. Every interaction you have from here on out will have an impact on your personal and professional brand.
Let’s take a step back and look at what branding actually is. The most powerful statement I have ever read to describe branding was from Branding for Dummies when they said “brands are promises”. They continue to elaborate on this throughout the book, but if you think about that statement alone it paints a pretty good picture. Your brand is your company’s promise to its prospective clients to deliver the service or product you provide exactly as you committed to provide it.
This needs to be taken into consideration from the second you start a business. You are always building your brand. Every interaction both professionally AND personally will reflect on your business. Try thinking of your brand as your reputation. Your brand is the thoughts that others think when they hear your company name. You can throw as much money as you like at an incredible brand strategy but if you don’t keep your promises to your customers and you don’t conduct yourself in a professional manner in every interaction you may as well flush that money down the toilet.
Everyone and everything has its own brand whether they have spent time and money building one or not. Try this for a second … Think of the name of someone you know. What are the first few things that come to your mind? She/he is always on time, you can always count on him/her or she/he is always late, unprofessional, unreliable … etc. What you have come to expect of that person is their personal brand.
Now think of an independently owned company in your neighbourhood, maybe a restaurant that’s not a franchise. Are they always open when they say they will be? Are they friendly? How does the food taste? Do they live up to the promise they make to their patrons? Your impression of this place is their brand.
The point I am trying to make is that your brand is in the eye of the beholder. You have to be very careful that you are consistent in your dealings with people and that you always act in alignment with the reputation you want to create for yourself and your company.
In my opinion the next logical step is to create some sort of online presence. I believe that having a website as you move forward into marketing and generating leads for your business is important. Do you have to hire a professional web designer to do this? ABSOLUTELY NOT If you are building your business from scratch and you don’t have the resources for that yet, it’s ok, there are other options.
All you need is something simple to create credibility for yourself in your industry. If I meet someone that I’m looking to do business with or find a product that I am interested in, the first thing I do is check out their website to see if they are “legit”. Almost all companies have websites now. That’s not to say that the ones that don’t are subpar and can’t deliver, a website just creates that additional credibility for the company and reassurance for the client.
There are many DIY website builders that are pretty easy to use. Check out the Top 10 Website Builders of 2014 for more information on which one may work best for you.
After you have something simple in place for people to do their own research on your company you can start amping up your marketing plan and generating more leads. Ideally you should never stop marketing your business. This just opens up another avenue for you to use to capture online traffic and create credibility for your company.
These steps are the last few loose ends you need to tie up before really moving forward with your business. All that’s left is implementing a strong marketing plan and staying consistent which we will cover over the next few posts.