Elevating Your Business: The Impact of Personal Branding on Small Business Success

If you’re a small business owner, you can’t rely on long-established brand awareness or a major advertising campaign to reach your customers. In all likelihood, you’re going to have to do the heavy lifting on your own — and that starts by cultivating a personal brand. 

If people feel more connected to you as a business owner, they’re going to be more likely to trust your business when they need the products or services your industry provides. By establishing authenticity with your target audience, you can build a level of trust that pays off in more ways than one. 

What is personal branding?

Personal branding is about building a connection with your existing and potential customers. And it’s undeniably intuitive. Imagine you need a consultant to help elevate your business. Would you rather hire the detached, impersonal consultant whose backstory is so bare that you have no idea why they’re a consultant to begin with? Or would you rather hire someone who can explain what motivated them to get into the industry, why they’re still passionate, and how they’ve helped businesses like yours in the past?

In this example, the second consultant benefits from strong personal branding. By developing your personal brand, you demonstrate why you’re the perfect person to help your customers. Branding will also increase your credibility, authority, and make your business more visible.

Whether you’re a freelance writer, flower shop owner, or the head of a moving company, creating a personal brand is essential. Customers like to know who they’re working with. So, share your backstory. Show them what a day in your life is like, even if your business is currently a side hustle. Tell them about your successes, share when things go wrong, and explain what motivates you to keep going. 

Customers don’t expect you or your business to be perfect. You’re more relatable when they realize you have flaws just like them. Sharing it all through the lens of a personal brand can help you connect to the people you serve and build customer relationships for life.

8 steps for small business owners to create a personal brand

If you’re ready to improve your personal brand, here are eight steps to get you started.

  1. Create a personal narrative

People love connecting with stories. If you share your journey to business ownership and your challenges, your customers can get to know you on a personal level. Many entrepreneurs share their upbringing, what inspires them, and how they get ideas. Don’t be afraid to mention any struggles you’ve overcome or current problems within your industry. People relate to authenticity, and letting your quirks and personality show through is okay.

You can also create personal narratives around each of your products and services. For example, maybe a trip to the zoo with your daughter inspired your new bouquet design. Or, perhaps you started a service specifically because it was something you wish you had when you started your business. These stories can help your customers not only relate to you — but to what you’re selling, too.

  1. Understand your customer

When you own a business, it’s important to understand your customers’ needs. Get to know them. Chat with them on social media. Ask them questions. Once you get a deeper understanding of who they are, you can continue to hone your personal narrative in a way that relates to them better.

  1. Develop your unique value proposition (UVP)

You have a unique value proposition (UVP) as a business owner. This is your selling point. It’s the reason why your business is the best one to help your customers achieve their goals. Make sure your customers know what those solutions are and why you, with all your knowledge and skills, are the best person to give it to them.

  1. Regularly show up online

Whether you own a small or large business, it’s a great idea to show up online with strong social media marketing. Most people don’t expect to get in touch with the company owner when they have a question or a problem. By showing up online, letting folks peek behind the curtain, and being vulnerable, your customers can develop more of a personal connection with you. By being active on social media, you put a face to the company and give your audience a chance to know more about why you started the business and how it can help them.

  1. Write a newsletter 

Another way to hone your personal brand is to write a newsletter. Over multiple emails, you can introduce yourself and your brand to every customer who signs up. Take your customers through the journey of starting your business. Tell them things about you only your friends or family know. Share a silly story, a time you messed up, or maybe when things finally clicked for your company. Be personable and shape your brand with every email you send out.

  1. Connect with like-minded entrepreneurs

Meeting other entrepreneurs will help you see how other business owners develop their personal brands. You can collaborate with them on social media, or even create products together. Collaborating with like-minded entrepreneurs — whether they have a background similar to yours, or work in a closely related industry — can help you spread your message to more people.

  1. Share testimonials

Once you’ve established an online presence and your email newsletter, start asking for testimonials. Testimonials help with your brand because they show how you’ve improved the lives of your customers. New customers might be able to see themselves in those testimonials, and they might convince them to try your products or services. To take them to the next level, include a photo of the customer (with their permission) or ask them to record a video testimonial talking about their experience. Consider offering discounts or bonuses for those who leave an honest review. 

  1. Evaluate regularly

Your personal brand will change as you gain experience, overcome challenges, and grow your reputation. Make sure you’re still resonating with customers by auditing your newsletter and social channels each quarter. See what’s working and what’s not. Figure out what type of posts or emails connect with people and which get the most responses. Use that information to help you sharpen your personal brand and reach more people moving forward. Consistent improvement is just as important for small businesses as it is for the wealthiest entrepreneurs

The importance of personal branding is here to stay

These days, it’s more important than ever for entrepreneurs to have a personal brand. The practice of excessive formality is going away. Now, customers love to connect with small businesses on a human level — it makes them feel good to know they’re supporting someone who deserves their support. 

Having a personal story, being vulnerable, and interacting with customers can help business owners grow a fanbase and attract new clients and customers. 

Featured Image by Adam Winger on Unsplash

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