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Most entrepreneurs understand the power of personal branding, but some see it as a peripheral or secondary development in relation to the actual business they’re building. On the surface, this makes sense, because personal branding supports a company, and the business is what generates the revenue.
So it’s natural to want to prioritise the company over everything else. If you’re building a firm from scratch, however, it’s worth considering the option of investing in a personal brand before you start to creating the actual business operation.
Thousands of entrepreneurs have already done this, resulting in multi-million dollar enterprises. Why would it be so important (not to mention rewarding) to develop personal branding early in the game?
Advantages of Building a Personal Brand First
These are some of the advantages to building a personal brand before the business:
1. Building a network
Personal branding gives you an opportunity to build a network of contacts. You may be doing it already; you probably have at least a small network of coworkers, friends, and family in place. But if you have a personal brand, this can greatly increase your connections. Of what use are such connections? It all depends on what you’re looking for. They may consist of potential clients, potential partners, customers, or even future employees. The bigger your network is, the more influence you’ll have, and the easier it will be to find the right people you need, when you need them. Trying to build a network after you start the business could slow you down substantially.
2. Setting a marketing runway for your business
Personal branding is an astoundingly effective marketing tool. People trust people more than they trust corporations, and that gives you a chance to be more persuasive and appealing in your messaging and content syndication. When your business launches formally, your early marketing campaigns are likely to be lacklustre: You’ll have very little information about how your key demographics respond to your brand, and you won’t have much of a reputation to stand on. But a strong personal brand, if it already exists, can compensate for these weaknesses and give you a reliable way to increase your visibility right out of the gate.
3. Giving your company an initial boost
Most businesses need to launch with a bang. They’ve developed the infrastructure enough to offer a minimum viable product to the market, but they need some early customers in order to get the revenue stream flowing. Your personal brand can serve as an initial boost to generate business within that initial circle of followers. For example, you could circulate and promote a press release that announces your company’s launch, and if it features your personal brand, you’ll instantly enjoy a burst of traffic to your new site.
4. Learning and sharing
Don’t forget that the networking potential of your brand works both ways: Your established followers may come to you for employment opportunities and partnerships, but you can also use your networking capability to locate mentors and other experienced entrepreneurs to teach and assist you. Sometimes a simple conversation with a professional who’s more experienced than you are is enough to shift your perspective on a key matter, or give you the precise advice you need to keep moving in the right direction. Personal branding early in the process of launching a business will give you readier access to these nuggets of information.
5. Establishing a backup plan
One of the greatest advantages of a personal brand is its tenacity. If your company fails to meet its targets or your expectations, your personal brand will survive regardless. You can use it for other career opportunities, or to start another business that heads in a different direction. Think of your brand as an insurance policy for your career, in case a particular undertaking doesn’t pan out the way you’d planned.
How to start a personal brand from nothing
If you don’t currently have a personal brand, you might feel at a loss about how to build one, but it’s as challenging as you might think. For starters, you’ll need to create a persona: Be yourself, of course, but add some extra characteristics and modify your “voice” to cater to your specific target audience.
From there, you can create or adapt your social media profiles and start networking. Produce content regularly, on a personal or corporate blog, and make sure to engage with all your new readers and contacts.
It takes time to build a personal brand, but the upfront investment can be well worth it. The sooner you get started and the more you invest, the more you’ll stand to gain when it comes time to develop your actual business.
Feature image: Markus Spiske via Flickr.