World progress needs entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs need structure. Startup survival rates have decreased in the last 20 years according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, largely because of over-scaling and overspending. It’s exciting to dive into your dreams with passion and prowess, and it’s easy to overlook the importance of daily fluidity in the process. Fran Lebowitz says to “think before you speak,” but “read before you think,” and nothing could hold truer in the business world. Consider the simple wisdom of the experts as you embark on your entrepreneurial dreams. You don’t need a trust fund or an Einstein-ian IQ to poise your dreams for success; you just need organized planning, practical knowledge and motivated consistency.
Don’t be a Comfort Martyr
Sometime since the industrial revolution, Americans got the idea that there’s something noble about back-breaking work. There’s nothing noble about intentionally pushing your physical limits to the point of pain. Roughly $20 billion dollars is spent each year on repetitive stress injuries that could have been prevented. Paul Edwards, author of “Working from Home” recommends that self-starters always make comfortable surroundings a priority. Ergonomically correct positioning seems like a small consideration, but the damage can be irreversible.
Make Organization a Priority
The average executive spends three whole hours a week looking for things: files, papers, staples, etc . . . which adds up to almost 3.5 weeks a year. Petty organization may seem like a waste of time in the wake of your “grand scheme,” but Edwards points out that it’s one of the most valuable daily time-savers there is. Color coding, alphabetizing, filing by date and printing labels meticulously can theoretically save you enough time to take that dream trip to Bora Bora. No one is above organization.
Since 1982, the time the average American spends waiting in traffic has doubled, and the trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. In the digital age, there are very few necessary errands left. Look into postage machines for small businesses to save time and money, order food, and buy office supplies in bulk at least six months out—this will free up your “errand space” or pivotal networking opportunities or even a much needed nap.
Get To Know Deductions
Tax law isn’t fun, especially for someone who is focused on the big picture potential of their dreams. It is, however, one of the most valuable sets of knowledge any entrepreneur can acquire. A good accountant can guide you, but as an entrepreneur, it’s your responsibility to save and organize all of your documentation. Good record keeping is the key to maximum tax savings and painless audits, points out Sam Fawaz, financial planner, to “Entrepreneur Magazine.” He outlines the 15 major tax laws entrepreneurs should familiarize themselves with here.
Don’t Blur Your Ground Rules
Finally, the key to a balanced, successful entrepreneurial life is abiding by your own rules. Richard Rabinowitz is an entrepreneur that runs a multi-million dollar enterprise from his home called “Digital Photo Academy.” He owes his ability to keep his team—and dreams in line to keeping a strict schedule and never blurring certain lines: work hours, clean up, even personal calls and family issues are handled outside of work. This allows for maximum focus and organization. The details may seem tedious, but learning them is instrumental in reaching your big-picture dreams.
So, you want to be an entrepreneur? One of the very first things you should do aside from setting up the proper business structure is considering how you will brand yourself or your business. If you have not studied marketing and branding I would strongly suggest consulting with someone who specializes in this field.
“All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” – Tom Peters in Fast Company
Personal Branding 101
There are three keys to creating a unique and memorable personal brand:
- Passion + Purpose.
- Creativity + Photography.
- Execution + Consistency.
Passion + Purpose
Chances are if you are seeking to create a personal brand for yourself, your passion and purpose has evolved. When creating your brand think clearly about what you want to portray. Consider how you want your target audience to view you (most likely as an expert in your field). With that, ensure that your passion flows freely when communicating your brand to the world. We want to know the real you, nothing phony or fake.
Creativity + Photography.
Your brand is your bread and butter; it’s the center of your earth. You must display it creatively. By enlisting a team of professional photographers, designers, marketers and PR experts you are investing in yourself and your purpose. Please do not put out fuzzy or inappropriate photographs with yourself as the subject. The image that you present to the world will be the very presence that is felt by your clients, consumers, family and friends. Ensure that your image represents you fully for what you wish to convey. Professional photos can make you or break your branding efforts. If within your brand you market or sell a product, ensure that those products are also photographed professionally for marketing purposes.
Execution + Consistency.
Execution of a strategy and a marketing plan is critical. My motto is, “if you stop marketing, they stop watching.” Therefore, ensure that you are constantly nourishing and caring for your brand. Create a marketing strategy and execute it. Hire a team of professionals that will help elevate your mission and your movement to the next level. Be unique, be memorable, be helpful to the consumer, interact and network. Most of all be consistent in the creative output of your brand and ensure that your messaging is clear. be.you!
My Branding Story
Here’s my story about how I branded myself. About a year and a half ago I published a book called The Entrepreneur Within You and recruited 17 other entrepreneurs to write a chapter in the book about their journey, experience or about finding their true passion. Fast forward about six months, people started inviting me to speak on their radio shows, and at their special events. Two minor roadblocks came up. I didn’t have a “platform” to speak on and my clients were confused by my cluttered creative posts online. The clients were asking if I was “still” a graphic designer and they were also saying “wow, you look like you’re all over the board.”
The first issue was that a professional consultant asked me what my “platform was” and well, I didn’t have one. I had never considered this and honestly wasn’t 100% sure what she meant. Now I have taken many marketing courses recently and have designed hundreds of logos for folks, however I was not sure what MY OWN platform was. Immediately I began googling and discussing some ideas with some of my visionaries and confidants. The platform that I decided on would be “The Dream Midwife – inspiring, empowering and equipping entrepreneurs on their journey.”
The next issue that came up was my social media efforts. I honestly will tell anyone I love and am fully addicted to social media. There are two sides to this. The good thing is that social media is absolutely a requirement to help market any business or brand. However, my personal page has been flooded with so much of my multi-passion entrepreneurial brain that people do not know what I do exactly. That right there my friends is a problem. So one day, I had a consultation with Aubrey Dixon of Affect Marketing Group and he laid out the plan for me, very simply. His advice was to separate PERSONAL from BUSINESS when I schedule my posts throughout the day. Secondly, ensure that you have a business page to market your businesses and keep that separate from your personal interactions online. This conversation has helped me tremendously as I went forward with creating my personal brand.
Let’s talk about Facebook for a minute. Now that I have my branding strategies in place, I have multiple Facebook pages, here’s how we use them:
JMH Cre8ive Solutions – this page is where I market all of my graphic design samples, special offers, design menus and share testimonials from clients.
Julie M. Holloway the Entrepreneur – this page is where I share inspirational quotes, major updates about my book or business and general information about raising a few entrepreneurial children.
JMH Goodies – this is a page that my hubby, kids and I manage for our “retail business” – between all of us we are passionate about selling books, healthy coffee and tea, candles, hot corn chips, mom’s art prints, custom designed t-shirts and more. We wanted to have one place that we market everything and anything that we sell together.
The Entrepreneur Within You (book) – this page is where we market anything and everything that has to do with the book “The Entrepreneur Within You,” our radio show TEW Radio (www.blogtalkradio.com/tewradio) and our upcoming workshops and events. A group of writers from the book share responsibility for posting on this page.
They Sleep We Grind Collaborative – this page is lots of fun! A few of us entrepreneurs have been tagging the slogan “#theysleepwegrind” on Facebook for about a year. If I recall, I first heard it from the owner of Candle Addiction, GaLonda Chatman. This page is dedicated to entrepreneurs that grind around the clock! We are working on a variety of shirts, mugs, bags and other gifts with our signature logo on it!
Saying all that today, once Aubrey taught me how to separate “business from business from personal” I have been able to strategize my social media plan in a much more focused effort and it has achieved the results that I desire. My business is growing, referrals are incredible, and people are much clearer on what I “do” from creative design to marketing and branding to writing and supporting entrepreneurs daily.
Julie M. Holloway (a.k.a. JMH)
Marketing & Design Professional and Author