What’s in a Name: 11 Ways to Build a Personal Brand for Start-up Entrepreneurs

How many people know who you are and, in turn, know that your business actually exists?

Answer: Probably very few, if you’re building your company from the ground up and you don’t have a lot of connections to begin with. Which, of course, can be discouraging when you look at things from that perspective. But it just stands to reason, particularly if you don’t have an established sales and marketing team just yet, and you find yourself doing many of the tasks yourself.

Just because that’s usually the way it goes for start-up entrepreneurs, however, doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to that mindset for an indefinite period of time. There’s always something you can do to build your personal brand from scratch. So set aside that feeling of being overwhelmed and start thinking of ways to improve your (very likely) almost non-existent image. Here are several strategies to help get you started in the right direction.   

  1. Be authentic. You have to be you, of course, but this is particularly important if you’re wearing the most number of hats in your business. For example, you think of proposals and meet with prospect clients. You do the hiring of new employees and handle the training of your team. Oh, and you also occasionally clean the office and sort out the mail.
  2. Create your own blog. This has been said enough times, but it’s still worth mentioning: if you haven’t already, you definitely need to have your own blog soon. But if you’re quite intimidated at the thought of building a business blog when you’ve barely launched your business off the ground, you can start a personal brand and, if you can, relate that with your business. Say you’re a professional photographer and you’re now opening your own photo studio. You can blog about interesting experiences in the field, funny anecdotes, or tips for photography enthusiasts.   
  3. Match your content with design. It’s not enough to churn out content regularly; you should also pay attention to how your visuals affect your personal branding as a whole. A blog or website, for instance, is not just a great means to showcase content relevant to your business – it’s also a platform to show how you incorporate logos, colors, and photos to convey the message you want to say.
  4. Build an email list. It doesn’t matter if you only have a handful of people on your email list right now – and majority of them are your friends you managed to coerce into signing up. At some point you have to grow your email list in order to develop your personal brand because – naturally – you need to let more people know about you.   
  5. Offer to help. Your personal brand is just as much about you as it is about what you can offer, so go out there and find ways to be of some help to other people. It can be about sharing your expertise or giving feedback, or something simple like putting forth an encouraging word or sending motivational quotes.
  6. Google yourself. Even though you think you barely have any online presence at the moment, it’s almost a given that you can still find something about yourself online. So take the time to find out how the Internet views you, and then draft a course of action to improve that. Maybe that involves updating your profiles, joining forums, or deactivating accounts you no longer use.
  7. Leverage influencers. You’re just starting out, and you may need more help than you initially expected. That’s why it’s best to look for people, especially those in similar or relevant fields, who are already established and leverage on their knowledge and connections. You can, for instance, reach out to influencers in your industry and offer to guest post for them. Just make sure you can present something that will really be of value.
  8. Join groups and communities. Building your personal brand – and your business, for that matter – will be a lot more fun and enjoyable if you can share it with other people. So find groups, both online and offline, that interests you and join them. Ask questions, offer insights, attend meet-ups. In a nutshell, do what you need to do to make your presence noticed.
  9. Think of keywords. The same way you can rattle off a list of adjectives to describe yourself, so should you be able to have a set of keywords that best reflects who you are and what you want to be known for. Then use those consistently on your blog and website, and across your social media accounts.
  10. Utilize LinkedIn. If you’re serious about building a credible personal image, you should take this platform seriously. Aside from helping you establish yourself as a respected professional and start-up entrepreneur, you can also use it for your digital marketing. Share your blog posts, build your contacts, and read helpful articles
  11. Choose your digital marketing outlets. Just because you want to be connected doesn’t have to mean that you need to be connected everywhere. Doing so will make your tasks seem more daunting to you – and, ironically, you may end up accomplishing less. Choose the best platforms for your digital marketing and focus on them.  

You don’t have to get a good handle on things before executing on them; if you do, you likely won’t even get started. You began establishing your business in spite of all the uncertainties and anxiety, and you’re learning as you go along. The same is definitely true for your personal brand. You may not have a sound plan just yet, but you’ll figure it out one strategy at a time. Just realize that it all boils down to this: your personal brand is about what you do, and how well you do it.    

How do you build your personal brand as a start-up entrepreneur? Any challenges you encounter with it? Let us know in the comments.