5 Mistakes to Avoid in Business and Personal Branding

5 Mistakes to Avoid in Business and Personal Branding

I started my first business about 8 years ago and it was hands down the best decision I could’ve ever made at that time. However, that doesn’t mean it was easy, and it certainly wasn’t glamorous. I struggled a lot my first few years at it. There were times I didn’t have money for bills, rent or gas for my car, but I believed in what I was doing, and that kept pushing me forward.

No matter if you’ve been in business for 10 years or 10 days, you will encounter some challenges that will make you second guess yourself. Believe me, I’ve been through. The key is to learn from those challenges and allow them to make you better. Today I want to share with you some of the mistakes I made starting out in hopes that you will avoid these pitfalls.

 

1. Don’t live in a shell

When I first got started in business, I stayed locked away in my home office for 12 hours a day doing my work. On one hand it was good that I was actually grinding getting work done, but on the other hand it created far worse effects of loneliness and shyness. It wasn’t until I started getting out, networking and building my personal brand (in person) that I experienced true success. You can’t stay to yourself. You must share your message to the world through video, social media and networking.

 

2. Don’t forget about the business side

This is where I believe most personal brands and businesses fail the most. Personal branding isn’t all about being in front of a camera, having nice photos, have a 10,000 IG followers and and being on stage. There is a business side to branding that most people neglect to address. If you are to succeed with your brand, there are business processes and systems you must have in place in order for the branding machine to work and actually make money. Things like lead captures, sales cycles, financial reporting and business operations. The rookie mistake is to ignore all the boring business-related stuff and go for the low-hanging fruit. Invest in your company, not just your persona.

 

3. Don’t focus all your attention on the outside

What I mean by that is: there’s more to being a brand that what is SEEN. Don’t be the 19 year old life coach. Don’t be the person who has NO EXPERIENCE in the very thing they call themselves an expert in. The harsh reality is not everyone should be a public figure. If you’re recently getting started in your field, don’t try to brand yourself. [ctt title=”Spend 3-5 years hustling, grinding, learning and gaining real life and business experience. ” tweet=”Spend 3-5 years hustling, grinding, learning and gaining real life and business experience. @cortneyssargent” coverup=”mf1Tn”]

That’s going DEEP. If a tree didn’t have roots several feet into the soil, it doesn’t matter how beautiful the branches are, it will soon fall to the ground and die. Don’t focus all your attention on the glamorous life of a public figure/personal brand. Go deep and BECOME the expert you say you are. If you already have the experience, great- keep honing your craft and becoming better.

 

4. Don’t be afraid of the small team

No matter how large a company may be today, it had a small start. No matter how big of a celebrity someone is, there was a time when they were considered a “nobody”. Your biggest mistake as an emerging entrepreneur and business professional is despising the days of small beginnings. If you have a team of 3, embrace it. Don’t feel the need to inflate things and make yourself or your business seem bigger or more than what it is. From my experience, the “little guys” come out on top more than you may expect. [ctt title=”It’s not about how big your team is, it’s about how well you can execute the mission. Quality over quantity.” tweet=”It’s not about how big your team is, it’s about how well you can execute the mission. Quality over quantity.” coverup=”dZG19″]

 

5. Don’t think you can do it all yourself

There was a time when I thought I didn’t need anyone’s help because I was superman, when in reality I was only Clark Kent, the nerdy guy with glasses. And, it was my downfall. I had a hard time relying on people until I got tired of hitting that brick wall. I started delegating and investing. It’s important to invest in your business because when you do, you’re investing in yourself. It takes time, money, people and sacrifices to become an well-established brand. Don’t sell yourself short by not investing.


Leave a comment and let me know which of these stood out to you and which of these do you need to work on?

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

75 Secrets to Business Startup

Don’t let your startup dreams die because you’re overwhelmed or unsure of what’s really involved in getting started. Entrepreneur.com has simplified things for you by going straight to the experts to find out their top 75 tips for startup success, so you can master the process step by step.

#1 – 5: Writing Your Business Plan
A solid plan can help you start off strong and stay that way.

#6 – 10: Finding Your Target Audience
Choose your target customer, then take aim in the right direction.

#11 – 15: Choosing a Name
Here’s how to choose your handle with care.

#16 – 19: Should You Incorporate?
Select the right legal structure for your company’s operations.

#20 – 24: Finding Advisors
Tea up with advisors who are willing and able to help.

#25 – 30: Searching for Funding
Don’t let lack of funding put the brakes on your startup.

#31 – 35: Finding a Location
The right location increases your odds of winning the business game.

#36 – 43: Equipping Your Business
Set up your startup with the right tech tools.

#44 – 49: Protecting Your New Business
Minimize your risk with business insurance.

#50 – 54: Hiring Smart
Invest in your business’s future by hiring well.

#55 – 59: Getting the Word Out
How you spread the word is as important as the word itself.

#60 – 65: Selling Like a Pro
Get out there and show ’em what you’ve got–literally.

#66 – 70: Managing Your Business Finances
Money is the lifeblood of your business, so keep close tabs on it.

#72 – 75: Smart Tax Tips
Doing taxes right can save you money in the long run.

Reading This Affirmation Will Strengthen Your Entrepreneur Mindset

If you’re an entrepreneur, reading this affirmation each morning will help strengthen your entrepreneur mindset.

“I believe anything is possible. I see opportunity when others see impossibility. I take risks. I’m focused. I hustle. I take flying leaps into the unknown. I believe that if you never dream, you will never have a dream to come true. I AM AN ENTREPRENEUR.”

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.