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?

3 Reasons Why Your Business Isn’t Growing

1. No Clear Strategy or Vision – When you’re not clear on why you’re in business or the results your business is delivering, it’s extremely difficult to grow it. If you don’t know the direction you’re going in, it’s very easy to get off track and loose focus.

 

2. Lack of Systems – A solid business is comprised of good systems. A system is defined as two or more moving parts working together for one common goal. If you don’t have systems in place, your business will fail very quickly. It’s essential to have systems in place for business development, marketing and advertising. We’ve all heard the phrase “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” That same thing applies to growing and operating business. There will always be problems and kinks in the system, but you don’t have to destroy the whole system, just fix the one problem and move forward. If you stay focused on solutions, problems will not be obstacles of progress, but instead they will be opportunities for growth.

 

3. Lack of Marketing/Advertising – One of the most common pitfalls for business owners is marketing and advertising. You must market and advertise your business or product. If no one knows about you they can’t benefit from what you have and ultimately you don’t make money. To be clear, marketing involves the strategies of obtaining business. Advertising involves presenting your business message or product in forms of media (billboards, online ads, print ads, social networks, television, radio, etc.)

 

First you should figure out why it’s not growing. Go back to step one and analyze what you did and figure out where you went wrong. This may be difficult to do, considering it is your business and it’s not growing. We strongly recommend that you seek a business consultant.

4 Steps to Successful Time Management

Time is the one most valuable resources in business and more importantly, in life. Once time is gone, it’s gone– there’s no bringing it back. In todays busy society, successfully managing time can seem to be a daunting task. And with the full schedule you already have, it probably seems like more is added to your plate daily. Even though those things that come up are usually small, they also are usually unavoidable and could tremendously throw off your schedule. But, don’t fret because here are 4 good tips that will help you successfully manage your time and get the most out of your day.

1. Work from a to-do list

Make a list of all of the things that you need to get done. Initially, don’t try to put them in any certain order. Just write them down to get them out of your head– I’m sure it’s a lot of them. After you’ve gotten them all written down, go back and organize them from most important to least important. Using a numbered list usually works best. If you’re on a computer, you can just move them around using copy and paste. If you’re a geek like me and prefer to use a software or an app, check out my top 5 productive apps.

2. Stick to the plan

After you’ve written your to-do list, you’ve automatically created a plan of action. Having a plan will definitely help you manage your time. The simple fact is, if you don’t plan to do something, it will never get done. You can’t expect things to get done without putting them in some type of organized plan.

Things don’t just happen, they must be planned. Planning is essential in successful time management. If you don’t have a plan, then you don’t know what you’re going to do. When you do have a plan, you actually predict the future. You know what’s going to happen, how it’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen.

Make planning your day a part of your day. Every night before bed make a list of the things that need to be accomplished the next day. This will not only help you manage your time and be more productive the next day, but it will also help you get a good night’s rest because your mind isn’t up working while your body is asleep.

At the end of the day or workday, do a recap on that day’s events and whatever you didn’t get accomplished, put in on the list for tomorrow and make it a priority.

NOTE: Don’t be so lenient on yourself that you start procrastinating.

3. Stay focused on the task at hand

If you want to be more productive and manage your time successfully, staying focused is paramount. Things that aren’t on your list will come up– that’s inevitable. But when it does, determine if it’s important enough to break away from your list to complete. If it’s not, then put on the bottom of the list and re-organize it later.

Working on tasks that aren’t on your list is one of the most time-wasting, time-consuming pitfalls that everyone falls into. If need be, turn off your phone, lock your office door or shut off all outside communications. Do whatever you need to do in order to remain focused. The most important thing about a plan is staying focused and sticking to it.

4. Pick up where you leave off

The reality is, you’re not going to finish everything on your list, every single time. You may not get done with the entire list in one day, and that’s okay. Just pick up tomorrow where you leave off today. Be sure to organize your to-do list again since you’ve completed some tasks and possibly added others.

Another important thing to keep in mind is don’t get so caught up in your plan that you don’t leave time for accidentals. There’s always going to be something that come up that’s not on your to-do list. Most of the time, someone is going to break your flow and throw you off track. So, be flexible enough to handle that; don’t come undone at the seams. Keep it together and stay focused.

Don’t pressure yourself to get everything done in one day, especially if your list is long or the things on your list take a long time to complete.

What happens when you pressure yourself:

1) You loose focus. Loosing focus is dangerous enemy to time management productivity.

2.) You get in a rush. And we all know what happens when you rush– things get out of order, work doesn’t get done or get done incorrectly.

If you follow these 4 steps, you will certainly reach success faster and more efficiently. It takes work, but if it’s done correctly, it can change your life.


What are some of the ways you successfully manage time?

5 Ways to Get the Most Out of 24hrs

Time is the one most valuable resources in business and more importantly, in life. Once time is gone, it’s gone; there’s no bringing it back. In today’s busy society, successfully managing time can seem to be a daunting task. With the full schedule you already have, it probably seems like more is added to your plate daily. Even though those things that come up are usually small, they also are usually unavoidable and could tremendously throw off your schedule. Well don’t fret because here are 5 tips and strategies that will help you successfully manage your time and get the most out of your day.

1) Realize that you’re always on the clock. One of the most important things in time management is realizing that you are always on the clock. You are always on it because the clock is always ticking. Realizing this will motivate you not to waste valuable time. Time lost is potentially money lost. The time you spend scrolling through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or watching TV, can be time you spend developing a new idea, maximizing on your gifts or perfecting your craft. There is absolutely no time to waste. And, by making a few changes to your schedule and lifestyle, you can successfully manage your time and maximize your day.

2) Write a to-do list. First, make a list of all of the things that you need to get done. Initially, don’t try to put them in any certain order. Just write them down to get them out of your head; because I’m sure it’s a lot of them. After you have them all written down, then go back and organize them from most important to least important. Using a numbered list usually works best. If you’re on a computer, you can just move them around using copy and paste.

Here are a few apps and software that will help:
ToDoIst – This is a task management software. You can create to-do lists and give tasks due dates. You can incorporate it with Google Calendar and use the mobile app to manage tasks on the go.
Teamworkpm – This is a project management software that allows you to manage projects, team, clients, to-do lists and track time.
Google Calendar – Keep up with events, meetings and consultations with Google Calendar. Of course it integrates and synchs across all of your devices (iPhone, iPad and Mac computer). It also has a task list, but it’s very basic.
iOS Reminders – Quickly set timely reminders with iOS Reminders app. It also has location-based reminders that can reminder you to do something when you leave or arrive at a specific location.

3) Stick to the plan. After you’ve written your to-do list, you’ve automatically created a plan of action. Having a plan will definitely help you manage your time. If you don’t plan to do something, it will never get done. You can’t expect things to get done without putting them in some type of organized plan. Things don’t just happen, they must be planned. Planning is essential in successful time management. If you don’t have a plan, then you don’t know what you’re going to do. But, when you do have a plan, you actually predict the future. You know what’s going to happen, how it’s going to happen and more than likely, when it’s going to happen.

However, don’t get so caught up in your plan that you don’t leave time for accidentals. There’s always going to be something that comes up that’s not on the list. There will always be something or someone to break your flow and throw you off track. So, you have to be flexible enough to handle that. Don’t come undone at the seams. Keep it together and stay focused. Which brings up the next point: the most important thing about a plan is staying focused and sticking to it.

4) Stay focused. You must remained focused on the task at hand to manage your time successfully. Things that aren’t on your list will come up; that’s inevitable. But when it does, determine if it’s important enough to break away from your list to complete. If it’s not, then put on the bottom of the list and re-organize it later. Working on tasks that aren’t on your list is one of the most time-wasting, time-consuming pitfalls that everyone falls into. If need be, turn off your phone, lock your office door or shut off all outside communications. Do whatever you need to do in order to remain focused. Sometimes you have to tell yourself that. Stay focused! Whispering to yourself may sound a little weird or off-pudding, but it actually helps.

5) Pick up where you leave off. The reality is, you’re not going to finish everything on your list, every time. You may not get done with the entire list in one day, and that’s okay. Just pick up tomorrow where you leave off today. But, be sure to organize your to-do list again since you’ve completed some tasks and possibly added others.

Don’t pressure yourself to get everything done in one day. Most people don’t get everything done in one day; especially if your list is long or the things on your list take a long time to complete. Do you know what happens when you pressure yourself? Two things happen. 1.) You tend to loose focus and 2.) you get in a rush. And, we all know what happens when you rush. Things get out of order, work doesn’t get done or get done incorrectly; and that’s just a bad situation altogether. That’s why it is so vital for you to write your to-do list in order of importance; this way, you know at least the important stuff gets done early.

If you have any time management tips or strategies, leave them in the comments section below.

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.”

Habits of the World’s Wealthiest People [Infographic]

A study was done by Thomas Corley on the habits of 233 wealthy people and 128 poor people. The wealthy is referred to by those that earn at least $160,000/yr with at least $3.2M assets and the poor is defined as those that make less than $30,000/yr with less than $5,000 in assets. To increase your chances of becoming wealthy, study the habits and actions of those that are wealthy.

This article first appeared: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/230918


[click the image to enlarge]

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What to Do When Your Business Isn’t Growing

Recognize and accept that it’s not growing. Determine if you want to improve the business to profitability or step away from it and close your doors.

If you want to shut it all down, take the necessary precautions. If you have a partner, then you need to discuss the situation with him/her/them. You certainly don’t want any bad blood with anyone concerning business because that follows you. Next, pay off any remaining bills or debts. Another important step in closing your business is to notify your employees (if any) and customers. You can’t just disappear. What if you want to reopen at some point– you want your employees and customers to return. It’s very bad business to just up and shut down without prior notice. You want your exit to be pleasant.

Now on the other hand, if you want to improve it, then you should proceed forward by locating the problem. You can do that two different ways. You can seek help from a business consultant. Or you can try to work it out yourself. But, obviously that hasn’t worked thus far. So, find a business consultant to help you patch things up. A business consultant will help you figure out why your business has not been growing. You want to keep this process as easy as possible; simply retracing your steps back the beginning when your first started your business can accomplish this.

There is another tool that you can use to analyze your business. It’s called a SWOT Analysis. SWOT Analysis is a structured planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture.

 

For further reading: 3 Reasons Why Your Business Isn’t Growing

Effective Business Networking

Business networking is a socioeconomic activity by which like-minded business people communicate. Business networking is making connections with others in a meaningful way, and looking for opportunities to help them, all while growing your own business or product. Here are a few tips on how to effectively network with other entrepreneurs and business owners.

Let people know who much you care – “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Dale Carnegie

Give. Never make a connection with someone for the sole purpose of trying to get something from them. It’s much better, in the long run, to give something to people. First be a giver because that opens the door of opportunity for someone to give to you. And, those opportunities will come naturally. You don’t have to be a salesman or try to manipulate people.

Practice the art of listening. When most people converse, they don’t actually listen. What they are doing is silently preparing their own rebuttal or pitch. Instead, actually listen to what others are saying to you, so when they finish talking, you have something relative to respond with; and it makes the other person feel that you’re genuinely interested in them and their motivations and goals. And, if you can find a way to help them, whether it be through connection with a key person that they may want to know, or giving them a pointer to some information or resources that would really help them, you will make an impression that is impossible to duplicate through normal networking manipulation. Remember, real networking is about helping others succeed. When you help others with their success, your success is inevitable.

Ask open-ended questions. Ask questions that lead to conversations and not just a yes or no response. Ask who, what, when, where, why. This form of questioning will lead to an effective discussion. People will know that you are genuinely interested in them and what they do. Instead of asking: Have you ever been to a local business seminar?” ask this question instead: “I’ve been to a few local business seminars and found them to be pretty helpful. What do you think about them? Have they helped your business grow?” As opposed to the first question, which leads to a dead end yes or no, the second question opens the door for the other person to speak about their experience. Even if they’ve never been to a local seminar, you can ask why, which leaves the conversation open and leads to further dialogue.

Be able to articulate what you do. Nothing is more embarrassing than being asked what you do for a living and you draw a blank or fumble over your words. That shows that you’re not confident, you’re not sure of who you are, what you do and it ultimately shows your unprofessionalism. On the other hand, you may know exactly what you do and know how you want to say it, but if you can’t articulate it when asked, it doesn’t matter. People can’t read your mind. You must be able to express yourself in a clear concise manner.

Develop an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a short summary that is used to quickly and simply define a person, profession, product, service, organization or event, and its value proposition. It basically tells who, what, when, where, why and sometimes how. It is a concise, simple and effective way for you to introduce yourself to people. When meeting people for the first time, it should be no longer than 30-45 seconds. It’s good to prepare and learn the same elevator speech at different lengths. Have one that is 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 60 seconds and even 90-120 seconds long. If you participate in an open-discussion networking forum, you may be required to speak about your business for up to 2-4 minutes. Being prepared in this manner shows that you’re polished, prepared and ready to work.

Have professional marketing material. Professional, up-to-date marketing materials are extremely important for effective networking. Having a business card or brochure that you can leave with people makes a world of difference. What this does is creates a lasting impression of you and creates the opportunity for them to remember you. If you’re torn between having a business card or a brochure, let’s settle that now–BUSINESS CARD. Having a business card is a must-have for almost every entrepreneur or business owner. As long as you’re consistently networking and marketing your business, you can never have too many business cards. Depending on your business or field, brochures are also good to have; but business cards are better. Why–because, they’re small and straight to the point. They fit easily in almost any pocket or wallet. However, the choice to use a business card, brochure or any other marketing material is ultimately up to you. Do what works most effectively for you and your business.

Earn Extra Money

Who doesn’t need extra money these days? According to a national pole, 8 out of 10 Americans say that the economy is in poor shape. With the fluctuations on Wall Street and the unstable real-estate market, everyone is looking for extra money in today’s society. Even the other 2 out of 10 Americans that believe the economy is in an upswing can use a little extra something. Well we’ve put together a little list of ways to earn some extra moola (some very creative).

Get a second job. That’s somewhat of a given for most people. The classic American that needs more income will generally seek to get a second or third job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 5 percent of people in the U.S. work multiple jobs.

Start a business. There are millions of small business owners in the US. Depending on the type, starting a small business doesn’t require a lot of money, if any at all, and can be very lucrative.

Have a garage sale. This is a very practical way of earning some extra money. Everyone has something that they do not need. You can sell those things off at a garage sale and make some instant cash. In the US, there are 165,000 garage sales per week, earning $4,222,375 weekly. That’s a whopping $202.6 earned a year in garage sales! WOW!

Invest in stock market. The stock market is risky, but can be extremely lucrative. But, this is not an instant money-maker. Stock require time to yield a good ROI (Return On Investment).

Play the lottery. Wish to your lucky stars and play the lottery. You just may win. The most common numbers in the Mega Millions lottery are: 4, 29, 36 and 48. Even though your odds at winning the lottery is pretty low, if won, it could change your life forever.

10 Tips to Get Debt-Free

  1. Cut up your credit cards. Believe it or not but a lot of people that are deep in debt still have open credit cards. Now it’s okay to have a low-interest card for emergency situations. If you’re on the path to debt freedom, close and cut up any credit cards you may have and live on cash. Stop getting further into debt.
  2. Get your credit report. After you’ve closed your open accounts and cut up your credit cards, find out your credit score and see what’s on your credit report. You can’t get out of debt until you know what you have to pay. You actually may not be in as much debt as you think. Credit card debt for the average American household is between $14,000 – $17,000. You can order free annual reports from the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
  3. Fix errors on your credit report. If you find mistakes on your report, contact the credit bureau immediately. Instead of using an online form, send a letter that includes your name, address, decryption of each item that you’re disputing and an expiation of why you dispute it.
  4. Budget. Creating a budget is not only vital for debt freedom, but it is also vital for financial freedom in general. By creating a budget, you are able to see where your money is going an how much you have to go towards paying of your debt. Keep it simple. Write down your income and expenses. Subtract expenses from income and that’s the amount that you have left. Save a portion of it and put the other portion to debt payments.
  5. Pay off the smallest debt first. Find out what the smallest balance is on your credit report. Attack it first and make minimum payments on everything else. Then move on to the next one smallest balance. If you’re not able to make minimum payments on everything else, just take it one at a time, but pay it off as quickly as possible.  This method will create some momentum and encourage you to continue paying off your debt.
  6. Make payments on time. Making on-time payments can not only encourage you, but also can keep your score at a good level. Late payments can kill a credit score. If you make one late payment, up to 100 points can get erased from your score. On the upside, there is usually a grace period for late payments. Depending on the company, it’s usually 30 or 60 days. But, if no payment has been made within that grace period, the credit company will report it to the credit bureaus; and that will go on your report. But, here’s another good upside: after you’ve made several good payments, you can write/contact the credit company and ask them to remove the late payment off of your report. Consistent on-time payments looks very good to creditors and can have a great impact on your score and report.
  7. Remain focused. If you really want to get out of debt, you have to make up your mind and remain focused. You will not get out of debt overnight, unless you win the lottery. Chances are you didn’t get into debt in 2 or 3 years and chances are you won’t get out of debt in 2 or 3 years; it may take longer. But, that also depends on your ability to remain focused and determined. Create a plan of action and stick to it. Hang in there; you can do it.
  8. Find your purpose. Why do you want to get out of debt? To help your children? Go on a vacation? Start a business? Have peace of mind? Finding your purpose and keeping it at the fore-front of your mind will help you remain focused.
  9. Consolidate your debt. Debt consolidation can be a risky business. It usually involves a secured loan against an asset that serves as collateral, like a house or car. By using collateral, the interest rates are lower. They are lower because by collateralizing, the owner agrees to allow forced sale (foreclosure) of the asset to pay off the loan. Since the interest rates are lower, the loan is usually paid off sooner. Proceed with caution!
  10. File bankruptcy. If all else fails and you just can not repay your debt, consider bankruptcy as a last resort. There are some major drawbacks, however. This will remain on your credit report for 10 years, making it almost impossible to obtain credit. Another drawback is the fact that filing bankruptcy costs money (the very thing that you’re in need of). There are several types of bankruptcy, but it basically means that you are incapable of repaying your debts and they will be discharged from your report.