If you are a serial entrepreneur, what’s one piece of advice you have for building a personal brand separate from your (many) companies?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
1. Make It a Priority
It is easy to get lost in your startup. Investors invest in YOU. Employees want to work with YOU. Make sure you take time to invest in your personal brand.
2. Build Your Brand Online
Pick up a domain for your personal brand. Post your ideas, best practices, success stories, failures, presentations, upcoming speaking engagements, bio, media files, social media profiles and travel schedule.
3. Give Yourself a Reputation
Building a CEO brand is paramount as well as portable, meaning you can utilize it for any company you lead in the future. You want investors, customers and people in your industry to believe that when you lead a venture, it is going to be successful as much because of your talent as the product. Through our CEO branding clients, we’ve seen how important your personal brand is to success!
4. Use the Platform
As your startup gains traction, it also creates a bigger platform for you to build your personal brand. Your best decision here is to proactively use the platform/foundation that your startup creates to also build your personal brand. This would include writing about your experiences, speaking at conferences and being a mentor to others.
5. Give Back to Organizations That Have Helped You
Many organizations — schools, nonprofits, industry associations, even companies — love “alumni” who share their stories. Whether you speak on a panel, write a blog or offer “office hours,” the first place that you can build your brand is through an organization that knows you. It’s always better to build a deep connection, and organizations love celebrating success stories of past members.
6. Be Open and Honest About Your Other Ventures
Six months into starting my company, I took my photography hobby to a professional level and started photographing weddings. At first, I tried to put up a wall between the businesses. I was afraid that if clients from either business found out about the other, they wouldn’t take me seriously. When I finally tore down the wall after a few years, I was thrilled by the response from my clients.
7. Share What You Want to Be Known for
Share content on your favorite platforms. If you like to write, start a personal blog under your name. If you like to take photos, start an Instagram account and share those photos to Twitter and Facebook. Share whatever you want to be known for. That way, when someone Googles your name, they see the stuff you want to be seen.
8. Spread Your Wings
It is important to build a personal brand that will follow you into your future. Get out there and interact with everyone and anyone. Take advantage of opportunities to participate in interviews or write articles. Use those opportunities to become an industry thought leader to further build your credibility. By doing so, you will be able to convey that you are both relatable and intelligent.
- Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media LLC
9. Let It Happen Naturally
Focus on your strengths as an entrepreneur, develop them and let your personal brand come naturally. As you develop more companies and prove your concept, people will listen.Trying to make it happen won’t seem genuine; take small steps to develop your brand, along with your companies. Slowly but surely, you will develop a solid personal brand that begins to separate you from your companies.
10. Create Raving Fans
It is very important to build a personal brand, mainly because people love industry leaders. Give! Give! Give! If you give free knowledge, people will come to you for advice, which will then turn into more leads and word-of-mouth referrals. Don’t be afraid to share business secrets and knowledge. If you help people succeed, they will become raving fans of yours.
11. Have a One-Line Value Proposition
A friend in executive hiring told me once that all executives need to have a value proposition they can declare in one line. When you meet people, they should walk away knowing that one value proposition — not just the many things you’ve worked on. I’m a problem solver, so when someone asks me what I do for a living, I say that first and then talk about my current venture.
12. Spend Time on Your Brand Strategy and Identity
I took the time and brought in outside help to work through the personal brand strategy and identity process, much the same as one would do with a new startup. It’s important to take the time to think through AND document what you stand for and are passionate about. When you have a clear personal story and vision, it makes it easy to link that with different investments, companies and pursuits.
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