Over the last few years, we’ve seen record numbers of people quitting their jobs.
There are many different reasons for this, but undoubtedly, a big contributor is a growing entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to escape the confines of the corporate world.
For example, in a report from Catalyst and CNBC published last year, half of respondents said they intended to make career changes, and 22 per cent said they were planning to quit their current job and start their own business.
In a survey from Digital.com of American adults who had recently quit their jobs as of this time last year, 32 per cent of respondents said they quit so they could start their own businesses.
Moreover, as you can see from the graph below, when they were asked why they wanted to start their own businesses, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they wanted to be their own boss.
In addition, a survey from Intuit found that one in four Canadian small business owners started their business during the pandemic, which shows that the entrepreneurial spirit has been growing on both sides of the border.
This is an incredible statistic, and it’s a testament to the depth of people’s desire to ditch the corporate world, as so many of them were willing to quit their jobs and accept the inevitable risks of trying to build a business, even in the face of all the uncertainty posed by the pandemic.
Still, starting a business is always a difficult undertaking, and for many of us, it can be tough to know where to even begin.
In this article, I thought I should share some of what I’ve learned over the years about building a personal brand, both as a business owner myself, and as someone who’s helped countless clients build their businesses.
So, if you’re looking to exit the corporate world in favour of starting your own business, but you’re not quite sure where to start, then you’ve got to keep reading.
Learn how building your personal brand can help you to have a smoother transition into owning your own business. I also talk about how you can start building that brand, and offer some examples of clients whom we’ve helped who have successfully detached themselves from the drudgery of corporate life.
How Building Your Personal Brand Can Set You Up for Success
Building your personal brand can help you to become more successful in business, but it is by no means an easy task, and it’s definitely not something that happens overnight.
So, if you’re working a corporate job, and you’re thinking about quitting to start your own business, you should probably get to work on that as soon as you can.
Before we get into how you can build a personal brand, let’s talk a bit about why building one is so beneficial.
You see, branding is all about establishing an emotional connection with your ideal customers and building the credibility, recognition, and trust that are required to make those connections.
So, how can building your personal brand make it easier for you to break into the world of business?
Well, first of all, it’s going to allow you to build trust and credibility for your brand, even before you’ve started building your business.
This will help you to connect with people who are interested in what you’re planning on offering and make them more inclined to want to give you their business.
In addition, it’s typically much easier for an individual to inspire trust and credibility than it is for a business on its own.
I mean, who are you more likely to trust? A faceless business you’ve never heard of before, or one that’s being launched by someone you’re already familiar with?
At the same time, if you’ve already built up a recognizable personal brand, that recognition is going to carry over to your business, so long as people know you’re the one starting it.
And if you’ve already expanded the reach of your brand before you’ve even launched your business, you’ll have less difficulty building that recognition, which tends to be a struggle for most businesses.
Finally, building your personal brand helps you to gain the confidence required to put yourself out there and effectively market your business.
Chances are, if you own a business, you’re going to be thrust into the spotlight in one way or another, and having already developed your own personal brand, you’re going to be much more comfortable in these situations, and more confident, which can help you to build even more trust.
Nobody wants to give their business to someone who seems unsure of themselves, right?
So, now that you know how building your personal brand can help you to escape the corporate world, start a business, and become your own boss, let’s talk about how you can go about doing that.
READ: Personal Branding Tips to Boost Business Success
Tips for Building Your Personal Brand
Your personal brand is a reflection of your business as a whole, and if you don’t get it right, this can have an incredibly negative effect on how people perceive your business.
So, as someone who’s been in business for more than 20 years, I figured I should explain what you can do to build an effective personal brand, and what you should avoid doing, as well.
Below you’ll find a list of some of the things you should be doing to build your personal brand.
Always look professional – There’s a lot more to a personal brand than just showcasing your expertise. You’ve got to be cognizant of how you’re presenting yourself at all times, and the way you look has to be consistent with the rest of your branding.
Be consistent – Consistency is a key aspect of every effective brand. Maintain that consistency and you’re going to appear professional and be instantly recognizable. Stray too far away from it and you run the risk of confusing potential customers and not being taken seriously.
Revamp your social media – If you already have personal social media accounts, you should update them to properly reflect your personal brand. And if you’re on any platforms for professionals, such as LinkedIn, this is an absolute must.
Share your expertise – No matter what platforms you’re using to promote yourself, the primary focus should be on sharing your expertise or the value of whatever it is you’re offering, so people will have no doubt that you’re the person they want to do business with.
Take some initiative – Most brands are not built solely from social media. With that in mind, you should do whatever you can to get more exposure. Go to conferences, attend networking events, sign up to be a speaker at an event, write a book, start a blog, or create some videos are just a few examples of what you can try.
Just as importantly, below I’ve compiled a list of things you should avoid at all costs.
Don’t get caught with your pants down – Obviously, this is just a turn of phrase, but doing or saying things that are going to embarrass your brand, or aren’t in alignment with what it stands for, is a definite no-no, and a sure-fire way to ruin all the hard work you’ve done thus far.
Don’t be inconsistent – I know I just covered this above, but it definitely bears repeating. Inconsistency in your personal branding is going to confuse your customers, make them think you don’t know what you’re doing, and make your brand less recognizable.
Don’t miscommunicate – It may seem a bit excessive, but as a business owner, and someone who wants to cultivate a successful personal brand, you should always be thinking about not just what you say, but also how you say it. Body language and tone of voice are crucial.
Don’t mix business with pleasure – As I said above, if you have personal social media accounts, you should convert them into something that reflects your brand. If you absolutely must keep your personal accounts, make sure you’re extremely careful about what you say and post.
Don’t look unprofessional – You should always try to look your best, and dress in a way that makes sense for your brand. For instance, if you own a brand that focuses on yoga, then wearing yoga attire makes sense. If you own a PR agency, however, that’s just not going to fly.
So, now that you have a better idea of the dos and don’ts of creating an effective personal brand, you’re that much closer to escaping from the corporate world and building a successful business.
But before we wrap this up, I wanted to provide a couple of examples of clients we’ve worked with who were able to exit the corporate world thanks to our help and guidance.
Katherine Hartvickson is the owner of an HR and leadership consulting firm.
For 25 years, she worked high up in the HR departments of several large corporations, but eventually got fed up and decided to leave so she could start her own business.
“I had been doing everything on my own, with no success,” she said. “Had a few clients, but just couldn’t get any traction at all.”
Luckily for Katherine, she reached out to us for assistance, and we were able to help her revamp her personal brand by teaching her how to communicate in a way that appeals to her target audience.
Over the years, we’ve provided a plethora of services for Katherine, including custom website design and development, SEO and SEM marketing, social media marketing and management, logo and graphic design, copywriting, content writing, email marketing, and strategy consulting.
We even helped come up with the name of her business – Quantum Ascendance.
Below are some examples of the work we’ve done for Katherine.
As you can see, the consistency and professionalism I mentioned above are shown throughout the work we’ve done for her, and this has allowed her to completely turn her business around to the point where now, she’s so busy that it’s often tough to get a hold of her.
So, how does Katherine feel now that she’s left the corporate world and become the proud owner of a successful business?
“It’s totally life-changing,” she said. “I get to do my own thing and work with whom I want to work with.”
Katherine also made a point of saying that after working with me and my team, she’s been able to hire employees and delegate some of her duties, instead of having to do everything herself.
“I quit being the chief of everything – the COE – and became the CEO,” she said.
Believe it or not, Yvonne Douma also worked in HR for years, before deciding to leave the corporate world and apply the expertise she’d gained to her own business.
Despite things getting off to a rocky start for Yvonne, today, she’s the owner of an HR consulting company – Douma Leadership – and a bestselling self-published author.
When she came to us for help, Yvonne was struggling to pinpoint her brand positioning and feeling less than confident about how she was coming across in her branding and marketing.
“It’s hard as an entrepreneur to go out and say, ‘Hey! I’m here, and I’m the best. Pick me,’” she said. “I’m definitely not that type of person. Not at all.”
But after a good amount of strategy consulting, we were able to narrow down Yvonne’s target audience which has allowed us to completely redesign her branding.
With this foundation in place, we’ve been able to help her create a responsive website design and provided several other services for her, as well, such as copywriting and content marketing, along with social media marketing and advertising.
Below are some examples of the work we’ve done for Yvonne.
As you can see, we’ve taken Yvonne’s website from something that looked quite amateurish, and wasn’t speaking to her target audience, and refined it into a sleek, stylish design that speaks to her ideal clients, and has a more professional and consistent look to it.
Yvonne said if it wasn’t for working with us, she never would have been able to build her business into what it is today.
Having struggled with self-promotion, Yvonne also said our help and guidance have given her the confidence to talk about what she does, and why she’s so good at it.
“Helping me to identify my brand was really helpful because then I had the confidence to say it,” she said.
Are you looking to leave the corporate world behind, but have no idea how to start your own business? We’ve worked with countless clients to help them build their brands. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.
To your business success,
About the Author – Susan Friesen
Susan Friesen, the founder of the award-winning full-service web development and digital marketing firm eVision Media, is a Web Specialist, Business & Marketing Consultant, and Social Media Advisor. She works with entrepreneurs who struggle with having the lack of knowledge, skill and support needed to create their online business presence.
As a result of working with Susan and her team, clients feel confident and relieved knowing their online marketing is in trustworthy and caring hands so they can focus on building their business with peace of mind at having a perfect support system in place to guide them every step of the way.