Top Personal Branding Tips for Start-up Entrepreneurs

People do business with people, not brands. If you want your start-up to be a success, you need to introduce yourself to the market, and not just your business and brand.

Today, entrepreneurial success starts with people wanting to buy from you, not only because of what you’re offering, but because they want to do business with the person behind the brand you’re building. To achieve this, you need to stand out in your industry, build a network around you based on trust and respect, and model the right behaviours for your staff, who will also be carrying what your brand stands for into the market.

Get this right, and you’ll be building a personal brand that people want to do business with, based on your personal values and expertise.

The secret to building a strong personal brand

Before we continue, let’s unpack the difference between the type of personal brand we’re talking about, and the more traditional aspects of what you wear, how you carry yourself and how you present yourself on social media.

While all of these things are important, they are only the beginning of personal branding in the entrepreneurial world. Consistency is key, so build a recognisable image.

However, understand that your main aim is to let the world you’re going to do business with know who you are, what you stand for, and what they can expect when they do business with you. If you can get this right, business will flow your way. By positioning yourself as a person with credibility, you’ll grow your circle of influence and your business too. 

Personal branding factors for success 

  1. Stand out in your industry 

How will you get your company seen and heard within a crowded space? 

There are very few truly unique businesses being launched today. Disruptors like Airbnb, Uber and Netflix get a lot of coverage, but they represent a tiny minority. Most businesses that are launched each year, particularly small ones, are replicas of other businesses already established. They focus on things everyone needs – consulting, marketing services, retail, etc – and while they may have a slightly different focus or be targeted at a niche, they are really no different from many, many other businesses out there.

The good news is that there is a way to stand out. Businesses might not be unique, but people are – which is why you need to present yourself and your story to the market.  

To build your personal brand story, answer these three questions: 

  1. Why did you start the business?
  2. What is your unique expertise/skillset/track record? 
  3. What makes your approach to this business different?

The last point will require some thinking and push you to really focus on how you differentiate in your industry:

  • The problem. Think about existing problems in the industry – talk to your customers or potential customers about pain points they experience.
  • The opinions. Go online and find industry leaders who have a strong opinion about problems in the industry – and what they are doing to make a difference.
  • Your unique take. Now formulate your own opinion. What are you changing in your approach to your business? What is going to differentiate you in your industry? Be authentic and ensure the points are relevant and keep it simple – you need only list 3 to 5 points.

Include these points on your website, in social media posts, and in your company overview document. If your points are short you could even list them on your email signature. 

Think of this process as the start of your journey towards becoming a thought leader. Over time you will grow your credentials and use your knowledge and experience to help others, eventually offering new insights into different aspects of your industry.

  1. Build trust within your network 

Building trust with prospective customers, suppliers, investors and other stakeholders is a priority.

Building a trusted personal brand begins with being good at what you do. Assuming this is in place, here are other key areas to focus on:

  • Be reliable. Reliability is key. Always do what you said you would do and honour your commitments. Your network needs to know they can trust you
  • Be confident. Speak confidently, whether on your blog or in public
  • Be consistent. When people know what they can expect from you, they’ll want to work with you
  • Share your values. Not everyone will be a fan. That’s okay. It comes with the territory. You want to work with people whose values you share as well
  • Look the part. Your clothing and grooming are important aspects of your appearance and are key to building trust. Make sure you dress appropriately for the industry you are in. Always be neat and tidy and avoid excessive jewellery or make-up
  • Be on time. Don’t be late for meetings or appointments. It’s impolite and wastes others’ time. Lateness also sets a tone about accountability, and it’s not the tone you want when you’re building a reputation for being trustworthy 
  1. Model the right behavioursfor your staff 

Remember that you set your tone with your team; just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean the rules don’t apply to you. 

Your people will look to you to model the behaviours that become the ‘cultural norm’ within the company so it’s up to you to develop the culture you desire.

  • Honour commitments. Set the example by being on time, meeting deadlines, and responding promptly
  • Model desirable To create a positive, upbeat culture, be constructive, confident and optimistic. Get your team on your side by keeping informed and communicating your expectations clearly
  • Your people represent you. Your team is an extension of the personal brand you’re building, so hire people whose values align with your own.
Top Personal Branding Tips for Start-up Entrepreneurs