Develop Your Brand Archives - Cortney Sargent, Sr. | "The People's Entrepreneur"

Self-Awareness Is the Key to Personal Branding Success

If you don’t know yourself, it’s impossible for you to operate in your fullest potential as an entrepreneur and personal brand. Therefore, self-awareness is the #1 key to success.

To be a successful personal brand, it’s imperative that you know your gifts, skills, strengths, weaknesses and abilities. And, to help you accomplish this, I have 3 self-awareness exercises I want you to do that will help you identity what makes you unique, identify your strengths and weaknesses that can be used as essential components of your personal brand.

For example, if you’re a strong communicator, perhaps you want to incorporate public speaking into your branding and marketing strategy. If your weakness is video production, a way to use that to your advantage is to partner with someone (perhaps a college student) who’s getting their start in video production and you can be a case study for them. These are just a couple of examples how you can use your strengths and weaknesses to your advantage.

 

Let’s jump into the three self-awareness exercises.

1. The Mirror Exercise

The Mirror Exercise, which is where you self-identify your gifts, strengths, weaknesses and skills. What do YOU believe about you? This is not going to be an easy exercise, but in order for it to work, you must be brutally honest with yourself.

2. The Peer Revelation Exercise

The Peer Revelation exercise is where you ask 3 of the closest people to you what they believe your gifts, strengths, weakness and skills are. Be sure to ask people who won’t sugar coat it and who will be honest with you. The worse thing you can have is someone who’s trying to be nice just to spare your feelings. This exercise isn’t about being nice–it’s about getting down to the nitty gritty of who you are as a person so that you can become better. If done correctly, after completing this exercise you will be very enlightened about what people think of you–it may not be what you expect.

3. The Reality Check Exercise

The final exercise is called Reality Check because it is the intersection of what you believe about you and what others believe about you. This is where you write down the commonalities from your and your peers’ answers to exercises 1 and 2. What are your takeaways here? What qualities (positive or negative) do you have that can be used to grow your brand? What weak spots do you may have that can hinder your growth if left unchecked?

 

The last thing I want you to do is write your Personal Vision Statement (your vision for your life), your Life Purpose Statement (reason for living) and your Why Statement (the reason you wake up and do what you do).

At the end of this lesson, you will have a deeper understanding about who you are as a person, which is far more important than anything else in business. Again, you are the brand, so having the ability to self-assess is vital to your continued success.

As best practice, go through this self-discovery process at least once per year. If you do all of these exercises with honesty, integrity and with an open mind, you will be on your way to becoming a better you and ultimately a better entrepreneur.

 

To make this self-discovery easier, I’ve created a mini-workbook that has spaces for you to complete these exercises. You can fill it out on the computer or print it. Good luck.

Download the Self-Awareness Workbook

How I Became a Personal Brand and What Your Brand Can Do For You

My journey to being a personal brand

I first heard the term personal branding in 2010, and I had no idea what it was or what it could do for me. Little did I know, several years later I would be a 3-time award-winning graphic designer, CEO of a branding agency, President of a non-profit organization and beloved as “The People’s Entrepreneur”. And, I boldly say that God, personal branding and a determination to succeed has afforded me those opportunities and made me the man I am today.

I must be honest, though–I never wanted to be a brand because I didn’t want to people to think I was arrogant or prideful–that’s not my personality at all. Most folks are dog-lovers–I’m a people-lover, and I dedicate my life to serving others. Becoming a personal brand was the best career decision I’ve ever made because it allows me to be who I truly am, without apology. If you’ve thought about branding yourself, but have similar concerns, then you should do it. Here’s why:

[ctt title=”Your constant desire to be humble will keep you from being arrogant.” tweet=”Your constant desire to be humble will keep you from being arrogant. http://bit.ly/2w9MYI5 @cortneyssargent” coverup=”SEdWy”]

The fact that you don’t want to be prideful will keep you from being prideful. The same is true with success–I believe your fear of failure will keep you from failing and drive you to succeed. It’s all about having the right mindset and motives.

After I heard the term personal branding, I started researching and learning everything I could about it. Then, I started testing what I learned on myself and what do you know? It worked. Now, I spend my time helping others build their brand around who they are and what they love.

One thing I’ve discovered from branding myself is that if you don’t put yourself out there, you can’t expect anyone else to do it. If you don’t promote your own product or service, how can you expect other people to do it? You have to make yourself available for people to communicate and work with.

 

What is personal branding?

Simply put, personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. Essentially, you are the brand that represents your business, company or organization. As an entrepreneur or business professional, you are a walking billboard, and no one can represent your business as good as you. You are the most accurate representation of your business there is, and no one can explain your vision the way that you can.

Your brand is all the things that make you who you are. You have unique characteristics, gifts, skills, personality traits, passions and interests that make up your personal DNA. Personal branding is mixing all of those ingredients, and creating a product or service around your passion that can benefit others by solving problems, providing information, convenience and value. Personal branding is about packaging YOU and presenting/marketing yourself to your audience in such a way that adds value to their lives.

 

Why is personal branding important?

Personal branding is a vital part of your success because whether you like it or not, you are a brand. There’s no changing that; that’s just the way it is. The danger in not embracing your brand is the fact that your brand is talking about you to the world, without you leading the conversation. For example, I’m sure you know someone who’s always negative and never has anything positive to say. They see the glass as half empty instead of half full. That’s their brand, everyone knows it, and that’s what people tell other people about them. Branding is what people say about you when you’re not around. It’s your reputation with your audience.

My question to is this: what reputation is your personal brand creating for you? Personal branding is so important because when you’re purposeful about guiding and cultivating your brand, you can use it as an asset to your success.

[ctt title=”Your personal brand is the one thing you can\’t get rid of but have total control over. The worse thing you can do to your brand is ignore it.” tweet=”Your #personalbrand is the one thing you can’t get rid of but have total control over. http://bit.ly/2w9MYI5 @cortneysargent” coverup=”_Cvb4″]

So, what are you going to do to cultivate and build your personal brand? Will you continue to ignore it, or will you use it as a tool to help you reach your American Dream of peace, freedom, and happiness? If you don’t know where or how to get started, sign up for my free 3-part video series to jumpstart your brand in 30 days or less.

Peace unto my friend,

Leave a comment and tell me how your personal brand has helped you reach success.

Jumpstart Your Brand Video Series

The Best Way Start a Business With No Money

You have an awesome business idea. You’ve been thinking about it for years and now is the time you want to step out there and try it. And, I know you have some reservations because people have told you that it’s hard to start a business, especially without startup capital. But, actually it’s not as hard as you may think.

Anyone can start a business with no upfront capital- all you need is the right idea and a few basic principles. This is a highly effective strategy because it relieves the pressure and stress of having to raising money to start your business. It also has proven to work for me down through the years with other projects and startup ideas.

The best way to start the business with no upfront money is to use what you have to get what you need. The key to starting a business with no money is to find ways to make the business startup pay for itself. By using what you already have access to, you can make money without actually having startup capital.

To explain this, let’s look at a real-world business situation:

Let’s say you want to start a business washing cars. But, the problem is you don’t have any supplies or equipment and no money purchase them. Since you have no supplies whatsoever, use some of the things that you have around the house. Find some old towels and a mop bucket. And, since you don’t have carwash fluid, you can use dish washing liquid. Now that you have the essentials, ask a neighbor, family member or spouse if you can wash their car for 10 or 15 dollars. With the money you earn from that job, you can buy some actual carwash fluid and a carwash sponge. Those items won’t cost you any more than $10 – $15 at the dollar store.

So, there you have it. This business principle is guaranteed to help you get from where you are to where you want to be.

Another way to start your business with no money, is to borrow. For many people this is pretty obvious. Using our real world example of starting a car washing business, if you don’t have a water hose you can borrow a neighbor’s or family member’s. And, after you’ve washed enough cars and earned some profit, you can then purchase your own hose. An important thing to remember about borrowing is to doing it in integrity. After you’ve earned the money you initially invested through borrowing, paid it back so you’re not in debt. This is called breaking even. This creative strategy of borrowing will help you get your business off the ground and set you up for healthy growth.

Speaking of such, if you want your business to truly grow, you must invest into it. So, after you’ve been in business for a little while, it’s now time to put money back into your business. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons in your reinvestment. Don’t do something just because you can; do it because it’s the most efficient, effective thing to do. Don’t spend money just because you have it. Wise investments will guarantee business growth and more customers.


At the beginning stages of business, it’s important to understand loss, gross profit and net profit.

Loss is the negative difference between retail price and cost of production.

Gross profit is the difference between revenue and the cost of making a product or providing a service, before deducting overhead (payroll, taxes, etc.).

Net profit, also referred to as bottom line, net income or net earnings, is a measure of the profitability after accounting for all costs. Basically, it’s the total amount of money after expenses.

What Are Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights?

A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state (US government) to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time, in exchange for the public disclosure of the invention. An invention is a solution to a specific technological problem, and may be a product or a process. The exclusive right granted to a patentee (inventor) in most countries is the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or distributing the patented invention without permission.

A patent generally last 20 years from the date the application for the patent was filed in the United States. Patents granted by the United States are only effective within the United States, U.S. territories, and U.S. possessions.

There are three types of patents:

  1. Utility patents are granted to someone who invents or discovers any new and useful machine, article of manufacture, process, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof;
  2. Design patents may be granted to someone who invents an original, new, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture
  3. Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

The expressions “patent pending” or “patent applied for” refer to a warning that inventors are entitled to use in reference to their product or process once a patent application has been filed, but not prior to the patent being issued or the application abandoned. The marking serves to notify potential infringers who would copy the invention, that they may be subjected to legal action if the rights of the patentee are infringed upon. The law of many countries prohibits fraudulent use of the patent pending warning, and inventors should be cautious when marking products or methods that may arguably not be covered by any pending patent application. In some jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom, a warning notice should ideally mention the number of the pending application.

A trademark is a recognizable sign, design or express which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others. The trademark owner can be an individual, business organization, or any legal entity. A trademark may be located on a package, a label, a voucher or on the product itself.

A trademark is typically a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image or a combination of these elements. When a trademark is used in relation to services rather than products, it may sometimes be called a service mark, particularly in the United States.

The owner of a trademark may pursue legal action against trademark infringement. Most countries require formal registration of the trademark as a precondition for pursuing legal action. The United States, Canada and other countries also recognize common law trademark rights, which means action can be taken to protect an unregistered trademark if it is in use. However, common law trademarks offer the holder less legal protection than registered trademarks.

A trademark may be designated/indicated by the following symbols:

TM (the “trademark symbol”, which is the letters “TM”, for an unregistered trademark, a mark used to promote or brand goods)

SM (which is the letters “SM” in superscript, for an unregistered service mark, a mark used to promote or brand services)

• ® (the letter “R” surrounded by a circle, for a registered trademark)

Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time. Generally, it is “the right to copy”, but also gives the copyright holder the right to be credited for the work, to determine who may adapt the work to other forms, who may perform the work, who may financially benefit from it, and other related rights. It is a form of intellectual property (like the patent and the trademark) applicable to any expressible form of an idea or information that is substantive and discrete.

Copyright may apply to a wide range of creative, intellectual, or artistic forms, or “works”. Specifics vary by jurisdiction, but these can include poems, thesis, plays, other literary works, movies, dances, musical compositions, audio recordings, paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, software, radio and television broadcasts, and industrial designs.

Copyright does not cover ideas and information themselves, only the form or manner in which they are expressed. For example, the copyright to a Mickey Mouse cartoon restricts others from making copies of the cartoon or creating derivative works based on Disney’s particular mouse, but does not prohibit the creation of the works about mice in general, so long as they are different enough to not be seen as copies of Disney’s.

 

10 Steps Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

Author: Caron Beesley – Small Business Administration

Starting a business? Confused about the planning, legal and regulatory steps you should follow?

Did you know that home based businesses are required to hold permits to operate legally in most states? What about incorporation? Many new businesses assume they need to incorporate or become an LLC from the get go– but the truth is, more than 70 percent of small businesses are owned by unincorporated sole proprietors (although even this group is required to register their businesses).

So, variables aside, there are still some fundamental steps that any business needs to follow to get started. SBA has compiled 10 steps that can help you plan, prepare, and manage your business – while taking care of the start-up legalities. Not all these steps will apply to all businesses, but working through them will give you a sense of what needs your attention and what you can check off.

Step 1 – Write a Business Plan

Yeah, yeah, you know you should write a business plan, whether you need to secure a business loan or not. The thing is, a business plan doesn’t have to be encyclopedic and it doesn’t have to have all the answers. A well-prepared plan – revisited often – will help you steer your business all along its growth curve. Try to think of your business plan as a living, breathing project, not a onetime document. Break it down into mini-plans – one for marketing, one for pricing, one for operations, and so on. Take a look at SBA’s Business Planning Guide for more ideas.

Step 2 – Get Help and Training

Starting a business can be a lonely endeavor, but there are lots of free in-person and online resources that can help advise you as you get started. Check out what‘s offered at your Small Business Development Centers, SCORE (which offers free mentoring services), Women’s Business Centers, or your local SBA office.

Step 3 – Choose Your Business Location

Where you locate your business may be the single most important decision you make. Many factors come into play such as proximity to suppliers, the competition, transportation access, demographics, and zoning regulations. Check out SBA’s Tips for Choosing a Business Location and this blog: How to Choose the Best Location for your Business.

Step 4 – Understand Your Financing Options

You may choose to bootstrap, fall back on savings, or even keep a full-time job until your business is profitable, but if you are looking for an external source of financing, these resources explain your options.

Step 5 – Decide on a Business Structure

Going it alone or forming a partnership? Thinking of incorporating? What about an LLC? How you structure your business can reduce your personal liability for business losses and debts. Some choices can give you tax benefits. To help you determine the right structure for your business, here’s an overview of your options and some information on how to file the necessary paperwork in your state and the tax implications of your decision.

Step 6 – Register Your Business Name (“Doing Business As”)

Registering a “Doing Business As” name or “trade name” is only needed if you name your business something other than your personal name, the names of your partners, or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation. Here’s how to register your “Doing Business As” name.

Step 7 – Get a Tax ID

Not every business needs a tax ID from the IRS (also known as an “Employer Identification Number” or EIN), but if you have employees, run a business partnership, a corporation or meet certain IRS criteria, you must obtain an EIN from the IRS. You’ll also need to start paying estimated taxes to the IRS; Read this blog that explains more about this process.

Step 8 – Register with Tax Authorities

Employment taxes, sales taxes, and state income taxes are handled at the state level. Learn more about your state’s tax requirements and how to comply.

Step 9 – Apply for Permits and Licenses

All businesses, even home-based businesses, need a license or permit to operate. Here’s a guide that explains more and includes a handy “Permit Me” tool that lets you determine what your permit and licensing needs are, based on your zip code and business type.

Step 10 – Hiring Employees

If you’re hiring employees, follow these 10 steps. If you’re working with a contractor or 1099, read 5 Things to Know About Hiring Independent Contractors.

Start a Business With No Money

Anyone can start almost any business with no money. All you need is the right idea, a few basic principles to follow and a dead-on focus that leads to success. In this business development guide, we’re going to give you some tips, advice and some guidelines that will help you start the business you’ve always wanted to or just make some extra money from your favorite hobby.

1. Identify your passion or idea. All of us have passions and ideas. We were all given some sort of gift, talent, skill or idea. Believe it or not, but that thing can actually make you money, and possibly rich. So, what is that thing you’re passionate about? The thing people always ask you to do. The thing that when you do it, it makes you feel the happiest. The thing that you will do for free? Whatever your answer is, that is the thing that can take you to your wealthy place.

2. Eliminate expenses. Now that you’ve figured out what your passion/idea is, the next step is to figure out what the expenses are and find ways to eliminate them. With any business launch or operation, there will be expenses; that’s inevitable. If you can not eliminate the expenses, then you can not start a business with no money. However, there is an alternative, which is investors. If someone invests in your business, you won’t have to pay for anything yourself. So, to a certain extent this method is still considered starting a business with no money. (it’s just not your money)

3. Make the business pay for itself. The number one key to truly starting a business with no money is figuring out ways to make the business pay for itself. If you can figure that out, then you won’t have to pay for anything out of your pocket, or anyone else’s (including loans). Nine times out of ten there is at least one way that any business can pay for itself.

4. Write the vision and make it plain. It is extremely vital that you create a business plan. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate plan that has yearly financial projections and investment proposals. It just needs to be something where you can see where you want your business to go. Holding something in your mind and writing it down is two different things and yields two different results. Writing allows creative ideas to flow. When you write down your thoughts, they become more clear and you’re able to see the end in the beginning. This also allows for better planning. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

5. Re-evaluate and invest. After the business has started making money, take a step back and re-evaluate it. Is it going where you wanted it to go? Are your time investments equalling the return of business that you’re receiving? If so, continue to more forward and invest money back into the business. At this point you may want to form your business as a company. In that case, you will need to register with your city and/or state to get a business license and get an Employee ID number and/or Sales Tax number. In setting up a company, there can be a lot of “red tape”, so make sure that you cross all of your “t’s” and dot all of your “i’s”.