Early this morning on Twitter while posting and conversing (my normal routine), a fellow tweeter asked me a question: How do you grow your brand yet remain true to what got you started in the first place? I told him 140 characters was too limited and that I’d think about it and do a blog post. In thinking, I have decided that in order to grow your brand and stay true to your origin, you must do the following:
- Stay focused: It’s easier now than ever to take your eye off the target. In business, just like in shooting practice, you must focus on your target goal. What are you wanting to do? Is the glory in pulling the trigger (doing) or hitting the target (result)? I personally like both. I know what I want to achieve for my clients and helping them succeed is like the ultimate bulls-eye.
- Stay positive: The more you grow (by doing and succeeding), the more people like to try and knock you down. Don’t let them. Negative people are time wasters and by engaging them, you are tarnishing your own brand. I believe you are judged by the company you keep in real life and online. Ignore the haters and negative energy. Instead, stay positive and you do this by surrounding yourself with other positive influences. Mine are my family, my clients, my great staff and my friends–in life and online.
- Stay published: If you want successful clients, your brand needs to set the pace. I try hard to lead by example and that has made all the difference (and I love Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”).
- Work hard, especially when you are young: I tell young adults that if they want a serious career, they must work at it. Nothing worthwhile comes on a silver platter unless of course you are the Queen of England–and even then, I’m sure the Queen herself has worked hard at maintaining her brand. Nobody is going to hand you your job or your success–you must earn that and it means more than just putting in the time. By day you do your job. By night and weekend (or time off) you invest in your career. If you aren’t reading, researching and looking for innovation on your own time you probably are not interested in a real career. I’m not saying you must work around the clock but I am suggesting that you invest in your career by doing the extra that will compound over time.
- Nurture your brand: Feed and exercise your brand and your body. What’s good for the brand is good for all–Blog and social media is the food for your brand. Are you picking the right content? Or is your content full of carbs and fat that slow you down? As I’m aging, I know that exercise and eating healthy helps my brain and my body. Am I as skinny as I was at 27? No way (I was an over-achiever who was obsessed with exercise back then) but I have learned that a balance of good content, some exercise for your brain and your brand is key.
- Find your mentors and watch them: Some of my best practices and ideas have come from mentors and role models I try to follow. The older I get, the more I realize I don’t know and the great news is that there are people out there–in social–who will answer questions and help you. On Twitter, there are some great “chats” such as #MMChat #LeadershipChat #blogchat, etc. I try to join these often and have found a lot of inspiring and informing sources as a result.
- Be Strategic: Do the right things first everyday. On my team we review weekly the tasks and results we are accomplishing for our clients. It’s strategic but it also requires discipline which fosters good habits. My staff is used to me asking this question: What are we doing that’s really valuable today for our clients? Would they want to pay you for it? Think about it.
- Be Entrepreneurial: Take risks, go out on the limb, be a self-starter and think like one. I’m unemployed everyday if you think about it. If I don’t do great work for clients and succeed for them, they’ll fire me. I have to reinvent myself everyday. Now I’ve had my firm for over 15 years, so I’m not as afraid of losing but the gut fear is always there no matter how big the payroll is. I have to think like a hunter: I find it, kill it, skin it and feed my crew. Not literally of course but it helps to think this way when you own and run a business. I don’t just wave a magic wand and clients appear! I once heard a speech from the man credited with turning Harley Davidson around in the late 80’s. His name was Michael Kami and he told the audience that to be successful you must “risk your job everyday”. I didn’t get that then, but I get it now.
What are you doing to stay true to your brand or your service? How does success help or hinder staying true to what got you there? Can you add to this list? I’d love to hear from you! Thanks for reading and sharing.