If you’re a small business entrepreneur, you virtually are your business. So what happens when you and your business part ways? Maybe you sell it for boatloads of money or maybe things just don’t work out. Where does that leave you? The simple answer is that unless you’ve taken steps to brand yourself as an individual, if your business goes away, so might you. But a strong personal brand can be leveraged by an entrepreneur to capture attention and bounce back.
Take Donald Trump, the consummate example of branding oneself separately from a business and rebuilding after a fall. His personal branding is so strong that most folks don’t even know the name of any of his companies, and talk about getting back up on the horse—the man has filed for bankruptcy on behalf of his companies four times.
Now, granted, Trump is the uber showboat and he’s now as much a celebrity as he is a businessman. However, as an entrepreneur there are two major steps you can take to build your personal brand and help ensure a long-term career as a business owner.
1. Actively sell yourself and your skills to the media.
No matter what kind of widgets you sell or services you provide, the fact that you're in business for yourself makes you an expert on a number of subjects. Identify your areas of expertise and spread the news. Blog about your skills. Send press releases to the media. Start a Facebook page and offer "friends" advice. Tweet. Join LinkedIn. Create YouTube videos. And, of course work in information about your business as well as yourself, which gives you credibility, offers a little extra-added exposure to your company, and gives the news media a wider selection of story angles.
2. Create a personal website.
When people search for you online, what results come up? If you build a website—which is becoming simpler via blogging sites like WordPress and Blogger—and change it up often to maintain its search engine optimization, you can help keep the search results that you want people to see near the top of the page.
Direct people via your tweets, Facebook page and other social networks back to your website. Link your corporate website to your personal website. And keep your material informative, entertaining and fresh, generating new entries to all your social networks at least weekly and at best daily or more.
Sound like a lot of work? It is at the outset, but soon a rhythm sets in. Whether you undertake the project yourself, however, or contract with an agency (we know a good one), in today’s economic climate, personal branding is becoming a powerful tool in the entrepreneur’s arsenal.