4 Guidelines For When Your Name Is Also Your Brand

By Maura Desimone

One of the most common issues for business owners is defining their business. This is particularly true for personally branded businesses. An example of a personally branded business would be ‘Oprah Winfrey.’ Her name is her businesss and her personal brand. There’s been a trend in these types of businesses over the last several years, which is great to see, but brings an interesting set of issues with it.

The biggest issue is a struggle with separating the person from the business, but also keeping some personality. You want to keep the professional part of the person and intertwine it with the business part of the brand. But you also need to keep your own identity as an individual, obviously. So what’s an entrepreneur to do?

Here are 4 guidelines:

1. Develop A Strong Tag Line.

Naming your business after yourself is great, but you also need to let people know what it is you do and how you can help them. In these cases, the tag line is extra important. The goal is to condense it into just a few words that specifically define what your business is about. Don’t be too tricky, and don’t make people guess. You want your tag line to be short and straight to the point. For example: “Coaching For Business Growth” would be better than “If you want to find ways to make your business better then call me to help you with that.”

2. Secure An Effective Domain name.

When choosing a domain name, you will have a greater chance of attracting potential clients searching for you online if your area of expertise and/or location (if location specific) is included is that name. Statistics show that more than 90% of the public is out there searching for products and services before they connect with anyone. If you secure a domain name such as,”EmmasCoachingSeattle.com,” it will work much better than, “EmmaLikesCats.com.” If your business was all about how much you liked cats, then that would be a great domain name, but if it isn’t, then it’s not such a good choice.

3. View your business as a separate ‘person.’

Talk about it as a separate entity. Plan for it as a separate ‘person.’ But keep in mind that it is an extension of yourself – the higher, more professional part of yourself. Attracting the right clients will be a constant balancing act of personal and professional. Err on the side of professional in the case of business decisions. For example: ‘Oprah Winfrey the person’ may love cats so much she has them on her underwear, but ‘Oprah Winfrey the business’ will not talk about this because it’s not professional. ‘Oprah Winfrey the business’ will instead share with you a local underwear company that makes really nifty cat underwear in case anyone wants to buy some, because that’s what her business does – it promotes products she likes. Get it?

4. Don’t make business decisions based on personal preferences.

This is a big one and also ties in with viewing your business as a separate ‘person.’ If your favorite color is pink but your business isn’t selling barbie dolls, then don’t use it. Use color as a tool. If you’re a business coach, use a color like blue that inspires trust. The same goes for any sort of advertising or marketing that you’re using for your business. If you like a type face, but it’s hard to read, then don’t use it. You won’t get your message across. Use a type face that reflects the personality of your business and is readable. If your family member likes to dabble in designing websites, but is employed as a vet tech, don’t have them design your website. Chances are it won’t look very good, it won’t work well, and it won’t draw new clients in. Try hard to make decisions about your business from a perspective that takes your customers wants and needs into account, not your own. You need to sell to your customers, not to yourself.

If you follow these guidelines you’ll have a much easier time connecting with your target market, which in turn will help your business grow more quickly.

3 Things That Stop You From Starting Your Own Business

By Tom Rubens

What was your dream as a child? Maybe it included owning your own business. For many people, it does. If you are one of those people, what has been holding you back? Why haven’t you acted yet? I have coached many entrepreneurs, and I’ve seen several themes emerge. I would like to share the top three “obstacles” that most people let stop them from venturing out on their own:

1. Fear

Fear is frequently the first demon that rises up to stop us in our tracks on the way to our dreams. For some of you, the fear of failure is overwhelming … almost paralyzing. You are so busy replaying the story in your head about how you can’t afford to fail, but then that leaves you stuck with the belief that failing at something makes you a ‘failure’.

Not true.

The truth is that not reaching outside your comfort zone might be the surest guarantee of failure. Ironically, the fear of success is sometimes even more powerful than the fear of failure. Perhaps you are tied to your current identity as someone who just got dealt a bad hand in life. That’s who you are and how you show up in the world. Success would really screw that whole story up for you, wouldn’t it? If you actually pulled yourself up and succeeded – on your own – you’d have to change your whole belief system. You’d have to become someone with whom you are totally unfamiliar.

2. Not Having the Money

This is the most commonly stated reason that most entrepreneurs give when they face the challenge of starting their own business. I’m not buying that. Fear, lack of self-belief, and the absence of structure, strategy, and clear intention keep more potential success stories on the sidelines than lack of money ever could.

3. Lack of Self-Confidence

Of course, this is tied to your self-belief. It is very difficult to fundamentally change what you believe to be true about yourself, and also how you think the world works. Negative self-image – whether it comes from your weight, your looks, your current financial situation, your kids, or any other de-energizing stories you tell yourself, is a tough hole to crawl out of.

Even if you are reasonably confident in yourself and willing to take a chance on your entrepreneurial dream, if you don’t have a structure in place to implement the strategies needed to be successful in your chosen field, you are going to struggle mightily to make your business work. If you come from a work environment where strategic planning and organization were not part of your skill set, you will need to acquire those skills if you want to truly rise above your competition.

So, let me ask you a question. How would it feel if you had the tools to overcome your fear of failure? Or success? What if you were able to walk arm-in-arm with courage, towards just the things you used to fear the most?

If you could adjust your self image, so that you actually loved and admired all the things that made you uniquely you, do you think success would be a bit easier to access and maintain? Yes. It would.

Do you think that if you had a clear picture of what a successful business looked like, and an easily implementable structure that you could follow to keep your business running smoothly, that you could move far beyond your current state of financial and personal affairs?

I’ve given you a little taste today of what you need to work on to achieve greater success in your business and your life. These are some of the problems I solve for my coaching clients on a regular basis. Business is business, and the skills you need to succeed are the same whether you are baking cookies, manufacturing semiconductors, or selling dietary supplements.

Are you ready to step up your game? Let’s go.

 

Top 5 Tips For Being A Successful Solopreneur

By Maura Desimone

Being an entrepreneur, and more specifically – a solopreneur – can be challenging. Here are 5 tips for success when you’re in business for yourself, and by yourself:

1. Manage Your Time Effectively.

With the world as your oyster, the tremendous amount of flexibility you have can be daunting at times. The key is to develop a schedule. Schedule in all those things you want or need to do: self care, client meetings, work time, business development time. Whatever it is you want to include in your life, add it to your calendar. Often, I schedule self-care time and tell clients I have meetings (they don’t need to know). The most important asset you have is yourself. Taking care of yourself will make your business more successful.

2. Seek Out Professional Networking Groups.

The agony of finding a good business networking group is s-l-o-w and time consuming. It took me a few years of searching to find one that fit my needs. I sat through many dead end coffee groups and Chamber meetings until I stumbled across my beloved Women In Networking Group. I’v been a member for 9 years now, and it has been a huge gift to my life and my business. I’ve developed incredible friendships, learned great business practices, and found invaluable resources that have benefitted me both personally and professionally. A quality business networking group is a powerful resource for any business trying to grow. It connects you to to other professionals on a routine basis and creates an environment of comradery in a sometimes difficult business climate. Being part of a supportive professional group helps you see things in a different light and can help you out of many difficult situations.

3. Realize Your Weak Spots.

Success relies on knowing your strengths and your weaknesses. In the areas where you’re weak or need some extra help, don’t fight it, just go with it. Use it as an opportunity to break out of your bubble and find some resources. Once you identify your key areas of needed resources or support, you’re halfway there. Then when the need does arise you will have some options, you’t won’t feel the need to freak out and lose your work time, you’ll have it handled and be able to keep the business running smoothly. Whether it’s child care, accounting or legal advice, a little planning goes a very long way.

4. Don’t Be Afraid Of Change.

Otherwise known as, “You’re the captain of your own ship.” This is one of my favorite sayings of all time and comes from my kid’s preschool teacher. It’s as effective for preschoolers as it is for adults. One of the best things about working for yourself is your ability to figure out pretty quickly what’s working and what isn’t. If something isn’t working, instead of trying to pretend it is, just change it. Concede, move on, try a different approach. Ask someone else their opinion if you’re stuck. But the bottom line is that there’s absolutely NO reason to get stuck. You have the power and ability to make changes – whether big or small – for your business. So just do it!

5. Give Yourself Permission.

The saying goes, “Life isn’t about how many hours you work, it’s how you spend your time.” Or something like that. The absolute best part of being a solopreneur is being able to take time off when you want it or need it. Go for a walk, go to the beach, take a trip, go to your kids play, visit a friend, take your dog for a walk. It’s all the little things in life that add up to being happy. I believe the happiest workers are those who have space in their life to do these little things that add up to big meaning. Studies have also shown that we are more productive if we don’t work all the time. So get out there, breathe some fresh air, unplug for a while and come back to work ready to make things happen. I guarantee it works.

The life of a solopreneur can be very rewarding. So keep these 5 tips in mind, and you’ll be both happy and successful.

6 Things to Remember if People Try to Kill Your Dream

By Carol Morgan, Ph.D.

Not everyone will understand you or your dream. Some people will mock or criticize you. Others will tease you. Some people may even avoid you. But does that mean that you should listen to them and give up on your dream? Absolutely not! If you always wanted to own your own business, be an actress, or change careers, then just do it! Don’t let other people’s negative opinions prevent you from going for it!

Here are 6 things to remember if people try to kill your dream:

1. You <might> want to listen to them.

Sometimes people seem like they are criticizing when in fact they are simply offering some advice based on experience. It is wise to listen. That doesn’t mean that you have to follow what they say, but gathering as much information and opinions as you can is actually a good thing. Being open to advice will allow you to be flexible with your strategies to achieve your dreams. Maybe something they say will help you in the long run.

2. Talk to them.

Many people aren’t used to talking through their problems when they have major disagreements. But this is a very valuable way to clear the air. When you begin the conversation, do it non-judgmentally. Say something like, “I get the impression you do not think me pursuing my dream is a good choice. Am I right? I would like to talk to you more about it and explain why I am so passionate about it.” Refrain from becoming defensive and approach the conversation with a “team” mentality instead of a “me vs. you” mentality.

3. Thank them for their opinion.

Instead of getting defensive when people criticize your dream, thank them for their opinion. This will disarm them. People do not expect kind, loving words to be directed back at them when they are purposely trying to tear you down. So when you thank them, say something like, “I appreciate you sharing your opinion with me. It gives me something to think about. However, I am still passionate about pursuing my dream, so I will take your advice into consideration in the future if I need to do so. But for now, I’m going to continue on.”

4. If that fails, then stop talking about your dream with them to avoid their negativity.

If talking it out doesn’t work, then you are not obligated to go out of your way to talk about your dream with them. If the topic ever comes up in conversation, you can gently remind them that since they are not supportive, you would rather not talk about it. If you continue to be exposed to their negativity, it can affect you–but only if you allow it to. Simply avoiding the topic might be the best option with some people.

5. If worse comes to worst, then you may have to sever ties with them.

If you can’t talk it out or successfully avoid the topic, then you might have to completely stop seeing them. Obviously, this depends on the type of relationship. It is not likely or advisable that you sever ties with your parents or family. However, if it’s a friend or a co-worker, perhaps having their “naysayer attitude” out of your life for good might help you stay focused on your dream.

6. Don’t quit!

Always remember this: do not ever give up!! Don’t buy into other people’s negativity or believe that your dream is unreasonable. Anything is possible! You will find a way to happen when you work for it. Make your plan, keep your passion, take action, and then you will definitely make your dreams come true some day!

4 Reasons Your Business Shouldn’t Be The ‘Shy Kid’

By Maura Desimone

Is your business like the shy kid in class?

Remember the shy kid in class? You don’t? Yes, that’s my point. The shy kid doesn’t leave an impression. The shy kid doesn’t talk much. The shy kid doesn’t share many thoughts. The shy kid flies in under the radar, usually because there is a certain amount of pain and discomfort in interacting with others. The shy kid is the wall flower who just blends into the background. I know this well, because I was always the shy kid in class.

Obviously, I’m not talking about interpersonal relationships – I’m talking about your business. But the end result is the same.

So here are 4 reasons why your business shouldn’t be the ‘shy kid:’

1. Being the ‘shy kid’ isn’t interesting.

As I’ve grown and evolved, I’ve decided it’s not that interesting to be the shy kid anymore. And since I’m a business owner, being a shy kid doesn’t pay the bills. Or even allow me to run a business. So the shy kid got put to bed, and in its place I developed a personality for my business. The personality of my business is called my brand.

2. ‘Shy kids’ don’t have a definite ‘branding.’

A brand is a business tool that defines who you are and what you do. Depending on the type of business you have, your brand may include certain graphics, typography, colors, music, flavors, ideals, etc. The ways to define your brand are really endless. One of the most common ways people brand their business is by developing a logo design. The logo design will include specific type styles, colors and sometimes graphics. All of these elements give visual indications of what the business is about. They help to define the personality of the business, which makes the business more memorable.

3. Your target market won’t find you if you’re the ‘shy kid.’

Whether your business is only one person, or if it’s thousands of people, it’s still the same concept: The whole reason to develop a brand for your business is to make it easier for your target market to find you. That’s why there’s such tremendous value in developing your brand – your business success relies on it. Strong branding helps your market find you and remember you. Having a strong brand will create greater sales in your business.

4. ‘Shy kids’ don’t have personality and don’t make many ‘friends.’

A business that has no personality isn’t memorable and doesn’t get much business. Think about those business cards you sometimes see that are on flimsy white paper with a few lines of black text on them. Do you ever remember what the business is about? What they’re offering? Do you want to keep their card and learn more about them? Probably not. They just disappear into the background, just like the shy kid in class.

So don’t let your business be like the shy kid in class. Get out there. Find your market and share your message with the world. Your business will thank you for it!

Living Like Martha Stewart

Do you have mixed emotions about Martha Stewart? Many people seem to feel that way, something about all of that perfection…  But she didn’t get there in a day.

I hadn’t realized that she had started her career as a model until I saw a recent article in Entrepreneur!

And while I knew (along with everyone else in the country) that she had served time for insider trading, I didn’t know that she had spent time as an institutional stock broker on Wall Street as well.  I thought she just had friends that knew stuff…

But she has had several “careers” along the way, just like many of us have. Her catering business was what brought her into the spotlight eventually with her advice on entertaining and eventually the whole “Martha Stewart Living” venture.

I have to admit that I have picked up one of her magazines on more than one occasion.

She shares some advice on how to be successful as an entrepreneur (but I think it applies to other endeavors as well!):

1. Don’t stop learning, and don’t focus on retirement – the word implies ending it all, and there are always more things to explore and do. (I was really happy to hear her say this, my family thinks I am crazy, but I have always felt that way!)

2. Inspiration is all around us, be aware at all times of what is around you.

3. Often people talk about needing balance between work and personal life, but she thinks everyone needs to define what that balance is for them.

4. Don’t let obstacles get you down, the “bad” times are just bumps in the road. And whatever your feelings may be about her, I don’t think anyone can deny that her recovery from all of that negative publicity was inspirational!

Read more about Martha and her advice in Entrepreneur.