So you’re going into business for yourself

Congratulations!

That is both exciting and empowering. It will be the most challenging thing you’ve ever attempted, but also the most rewarding. It will require lots of very hard work, but the good thing about working for yourself is, it won’t feel like work.

Have you thought about a name for your business? A logo? What you want your company to stand for, and which values you want to deliver for your clients? If not, here’s some friendly advice from one who has been there, done that.

As it relates to your new brand, three (3) things are more important than others:

1) Relevance,
2) Uniqueness and
3) Consistency

Relevance in that your brand story must ring true, and speak to the reason for you being in business; what your passion is and what you want to accomplish for your clients. This is your brand’s promise; why clients will be drawn to you and what they’ll remember you by, and it must imprint some of your values in their minds. Think of it as your “elevator pitch” ­ what you will tell people about yourself and your business if you only had 10­-15 seconds, and what kind of mental image you wish that story to leave behind.

Uniqueness because you’re not alone on the market; you have competitors for your clients’ business and you must seek to set yourself apart from them, while still keeping an eye on that relevance. Merely being different will do you no good if the way you are different is not relevant to your prospective clients. On the other hand, being relevant is equally meaningless if there are thousands of others who offer the exact same kind of relevance; that is after all what signifes a cliché. My experience is that many business owners instinctively tend to want to align themselves too closely with what they see as “the typical way of doing things” in their line of business. But what is typical is not unique and that pulls the rug out from under any marketing effort. If your value proposition is not unique, you have no advantage over the competition, and there is no compelling reason for a prospective client to choose you. Many new start­ups flounder that way.

Consistency because the way a brand is applied speaks to clarity of vision, professionalism, confidence and determination. A consistently applied brand also helps people remember you, recognize you and find you, which is especially important these days, when any service provider is but a Google search away. So, whether on a website, a letterhead, a business card, on Facebook or in a print ad, your name and brand must be consistent and facilitate recognition; much like heraldry used to do on the battlefield. So, make sure your flag flies high, and stands out.

Hope that’s helpful. Good luck!

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