I was personally touched by a story on the news recently about a Colorado homeless man who won $500,000 from a $10 scratch-off lottery ticket.
This man, who had lived in a homeless shelter for more than four years, purchased the ticket with his own money.
For most of us, achieving success within our chosen careers or as business owners, relies on having a strong work ethic combined with healthy doses of both patience and persistence.
Of course, we occasionally hear of successful entrepreneurs who inherit their wealth and coast through life because of their famous names.
However, most successful entrepreneurs rely on neither on inheritance nor luck. They instead put in a lot of time and hard work earning their wealth, branding their businesses, and creating a name for themselves.
But do smart and successful businesses start with branding?
Let’s take a look …
“Accidental” examples of successful branding
Henry Ford’s story provides a superb example of the entrepreneurial spirit and “American Dream.” Ford was born on a farm in 1863 and his first job was as an apprentice machinist in Detroit, Michigan, in 1879.
Most notably, he founded Ford Motor Company in 1903.
And today, over 100 years later, his name is still well-known thanks to years of branding.
A slightly more modern self-made man is Sam Walton, who is the founder of Wal-Mart. Like Henry Ford, Walton also grew up on a farm.
Walton started out by working odd jobs and eventually opened his first “variety store.” His first store was highly profitable, so he opened another…which was also profitable. So he built more stores.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, we might refer to these self-made men and their ventures as examples of successful personal branding.
However, it’s difficult to say whether either man set out with the goal of actually branding their names.
It’s more plausible to believe that it was their hard work and solid ideas that ultimately turned their brands’ names into household names.
Branding – do today’s startups and solopreneurs need it?
There is really no way of knowing who (or what) will give us our next big branding success story. In today’s well-connected world, we hear about various brands rising to fame on a somewhat regular basis.
One example is our very own Brooke B. Sellas, who was Brooke Ballard until her marriage in October 2015.
Brooke started her online business, B Squared Media, using her maiden name. Well, it was her initials really.
However, our clients and audience understand that Brooke B. and B Squared are synonymous.
She even saved her maiden middle initial instead of changing her business’ name in order to maintain consistency with B Squared’s branding.
If you are an ambitious startup owner or solopreneur, you should also consider ways for successfully creating a name and branding yourself.
Because, when you go about it the right way, personal branding is one of the best ways you can positively stand out from your competition – regardless of your industry.
There are numerous ways – both online and off – to boost your branding
So, what steps should new solopreneurs or startup owners take as they begin branding themselves?
Here are 3 steps that will help you get started:
Step #1: The first step of branding is deciding what you will call yourself.
Perhaps you are debating whether you’ll use your own name or a variation of it. If you happen to have a unique name then the decision to brand with your name may end up being much easier than if you have a common name.
If you happen to have a unique name then the decision to brand with your name may end up being much easier than if you have a common name.
As well, the U.S. Small Business Administration provides excellent information about how to choose and register your business name.
Step #2: Introduce your name and branding
Your next step is to let the world (or, at least, your target audience) know your name, who you are, and what you have to offer.
These are a few ideas for exposing your new brand name:
- Create social media profiles and upload your images (either your headshot or logo) to begin your online branding process.
- Invest in marketing collateral, especially business cards, that you can share at networking events. Vistaprint is an extremely popular site for purchasing all sorts of marketing materials. From business cards to signs and posters to social media marketing – they can cover many of your business branding needs.
- One excellent way to gain quick exposure and introduce your new startup to a lot of people in a short amount of time is through a trade show booth.
In his post for Small Business Trends, Timothy Carter shares great trade show tips for startup companies.
Carter’s tips for trade shows include the following:
- Make an investment in a great booth which includes signage that is vibrant, visible, and interesting.
- Be eye-catching and put together awesome swag bags, giveaway items, or other promotional items.
Without a doubt, trade show attendees love swag and freebies.
Good trade show giveaways should be cost effective and intriguing. And, of course, the giveaways should include your branding.
One popular trend at trade shows is to offer water bottles to your booth’s visitors. These water bottles can display labels with your name and/or logo, along with your contact information.
One site that offers these labels at a price that won’t break the bank is iCustomLabel.
Other unique, fun, and useful giveaways you might consider are branded lip balms (a good site to find these is Promo Lip Balm) or car USB chargers (which you can find on AnyPromo.com).
Step #3: Don’t give up
There is no such thing as overnight success.
As I mentioned above, successful entrepreneurs work hard to achieve their goals. For many startups and solopreneurs, it takes months – and even years – to start seeing profits.
Sometimes you may even find it necessary to rebrand yourself when your industry changes or your own personal goals evolve. And that’s okay, too.
Although your attempts at branding may not seem initially successful to you, you might end up pleasantly surprised.
Just remember: the next time you’re on the road and see a Ford or go shopping at Wal-Mart, think about how their founders started out.
What steps have you taken to brand yourself or your business? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to leave a comment below.
This is part of our Business 101 Series — designed especially for new business owners, startups, and solopreneurs.
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