You’ve heard a million times that most small businesses fail after the first or second year. So what happens to an entrepreneur when their business is gone? The answer is that they are taken down with their company unless they’ve built their own brand simultaneously while operating their business.
A personal brand can always be leveraged by an entrepreneur to regain momentum, capture attention and even start a new business faster than their previous one. Look at major entrepreneurs, such as Meg Whitman, Bill Gates, Tony Hsieh and Donald Trump. Even Carol Bartz, the former CEO of Yahoo!, built a strong brand before her departure. (Everyone knows who she is—for better or worse.) Bottom line, you’re familiar with them and they have a sense of credibility and prestige that you trust and respect. They’ve found ways to use their personality, showmanship and intelligence to their advantage. As an entrepreneur, you too need to build a brand if you want a long-term career as a business owner.
Brand yourself to attract attention
The media is always interested in hearing stories from entrepreneurs who are in different stages of business creation and development. From MSNBC to a small business blog, as an entrepreneur you can be a media source for a number of outlets across a variety of different media. In order to achieve this, you need to become an expert in something that relates to your company. For instance, if you start a social network for baby boomers, you can become a generational expert, or if you own a few McDonalds franchises, you can become a franchise expert. You can become an expert in any industry, with any type of business, and it will only work in your favor if you do.
Any time you’re interviewed by the media, you will have the opportunity to cite your company. For instance, if you’re quoted in The Huffington Post, it might read “Jon Smith, CEO, XZY Company.” Therefore, when you receive press mentions, so will your company. The more you do this, the more well-known you will become, which will transfer to your company becoming more successful.
Brand yourself by creating a website
When people go to search for you, what comes up? If you haven’t built a website for yourself, then other people will control your brand. If you receive negative press, it might appear first for your name in a Google search. You need to create a website under your full name (yourfullname.com) so that you know what people will find when they search for you and you can be proud of it. You would be surprised how many people search for my name as a way to learn more about my business. Give people multiple ways to learn about you and your company.
Your website should promote and link back to your corporate website. It should have links to your social network profiles, a professional headshot, press links, articles you’ve written, a bio and depict you as an expert in your field. This way, if an event planner is interested in having you speak, or if someone is looking to interview you for a story, they have all the assets they need.
Brand yourself by associating with larger brands
The best way to get famous is to align yourself to famous or better known brands. For your company, this means to partner with larger companies to deliver higher value to the end consumer. For yourself, this means to interview famous people in your industry, create an event and get successful keynote speakers, and network as hard as you can. Find ways where you can create meaningful two way relationships with successful people and always give first. By associating yourself with big brands, both you and your company will start to gain more attention, which will drive revenues.
Dan Schawbel, recognized as a “personal branding guru” by The New York Times, is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, LLC, a full-service personal branding agency. Dan is the author of Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future, the founder of the Personal Branding Blog, and publisher of Personal Branding Magazine. He has worked with companies such as Google, Time Warner, Symantec, IBM, EMC, and CitiGroup.