Today most small business professionals start their own business because they’ve either been let down by or let go from a “traditional” job position. And while going into business for yourself can be liberating, it can also be scary at the same time. Ask any small business owner about the ups and downs and they will tell you that those feelings never really go away.
While most people go into business for themselves having had some sort of related industry experience, that isn’t true for everyone. But the one overwhelming theme that small business owners that I speak with tell me is that they typically have no formal training or education in how to run a business, or in many cases no experience running a business at all. So if so many people are in business without this, who the heck do they think they are?
Big Dreams? Meet Reality
After a few years in travel I started my first travel company in 1999, but in 2001 decided to jumpstart my vision and get it to the next level by buying an existing travel agency and converting its staff and customer list into the company I envisioned.
The deal to purchase a local travel agency was inked on Monday, April 2, 2001 (but it might as well have been April Fools’ Day). Although I didn’t know it, a recession had begun that spring, and during the summer business slowed down just as I was completing a costly renovation of the office, and then came 9/11 followed by airline commissions that were cut and then eliminated all in the first 10 months. All the while I was still learning how to run a business and manage staff for the first time.
I had no one to blame but myself. My dream had been to become the President of a company by the age of 30, and I accomplished that at the age of 29, so I was full of myself, but armed only with the business knowledge I had gleaned from reading trade magazines and a few “how-to” books. But while I was dealing with those realities, I lost sight that my greatest asset was still a belief in myself and the vision I had in my head.
Mom and Pop go to Town
The mom-and-pop business I now owned needed to get out the word that not only was there a new owner in town, but things were changing in the industry and we wanted to do business differently.
My own staff had trouble seeing any hopes of succeeding long-term, and I was in need of a way to take my vision outside of our four walls and get the local community talking, walking into our shop, and buying.
I had a conversation with the previous owner early on, and he gave me the same advice most business owners hear: “Now that you’re the owner, you need to go out and network.” I knew he was right. I had read it in all of those business books. And fortunately I found a knowledge network that taught me that simply going out wouldn’t be enough. I needed to build my own public presence and network of relationships.
Networker: Know Thyself
I knew I was an energetic, enthusiastic optimist, but I had to get out into my community and put my face to the name of the business in a way that presented a public presence that people could identify with and relate to easily.
Although an uncomfortable idea at first, the personality-based branding I needed to do was not that dissimilar to any celebrity CEO, albeit on a much smaller scale. I would need to be “famous” amongst the right (few) people that mattered most to my ability to propel the growth of my company. Only once you know yourself can you promote your brand and the company you represent in a way that gives you influence when networking with other business professionals and personalities. If done well, that influence can supersede almost any challenges you might face enduring a learning curve on the inside of running your business.
That’s Who You Are
No matter your business experiences, or lack of formal training or education in business, embrace and promote yourself as the driving force of your business. Develop a niche, and allow your public presence to inform others about what you do, and enroll them in spreading your message to a broader audience. It is by being out front and giving voice to your business that portrays who you are, and what your business can become.
Interested in learning more about Creating Your Own Public Presence? Check out this FREE e-book from Mountaintop University Press: http://goo.gl/FHoSI0