For a small business, it’s almost impossible to separate the CEO’s personal brand from the business brand. These become indistinguishable given that the founder is the face of the business, and most likely the primary client-facing representative too. This can have both positive and negative connotations.
Personal image and branding isn’t only represented by the outward appearance of the CEO. It is also in the values and the professionalism exhibited (or not) by the CEO in running the business. Current and prospective clients will judge the credibility of your brand based on the quality of their interaction with the founder and staff. They will also be concerned with the quality and responsiveness of your product, as well as the quality and consistency of your service.
For the business owner and CEO, this brings home the need to reflect on, define and articulate your personal and business values right from the outset. Understand and define what you are trying to achieve with your business and what values are aligned with those personal and business aspirations. Then, commit to living those values through how you operate your business. This delivers you your business brand. How you choose and interact with clients, how you recruit and engage with staff. How you present yourself to the world, as well as your presentation, oratory and networking skills, and personal style.
Let’s look at some “how to’s”;
How to define your personal and/or business values
Your business is an extension of you, your personality, your values. You need to complete the exercise of identifying or defining your values. What are you trying to achieve with your business? What values are aligned with these aspirations? Most clients in one way or the other will want a product or service from a particular service provider because they feel an affinity with that brand.
Whether you know it or not, clients have already judged you before they come to your business premises based on the values you are exuding. Whether they stay with you or not is dependent on how well you consistently demonstrate those values in operating your business.
How to ensure that your business values are evident in how you present yourself to the world
How you present yourself to the world includes your outward appearance, but also your technical skills and abilities, your oratory and your presentation skills. How you present yourself involves aligning all of this with your vocation, without limiting your unique personality. The CEO is the heart and soul of the small business –when we think of buying your good or service, we usually think of you. Therefore, your physical outward appearance must demonstrate your brand essence.
In this regard here are a few prerequisites:
Upgrade your presentation and oratory skills
This gives immense confidence and credibility. A lot of the time CEOs are pitching their business, whether on the golf course or at a conference. You need to be able to do this authentically and authoritatively so that in 2 or 3 minutes people ‘get’ your business and are persuaded to believe that you have a good or service that will be of interest to them.
Be an authority
Your staff and your clients are looking to you for leadership, give them leadership. Staff and clients want and need to be schooled in how to do things. That’s why clients come when they have that tricky business challenge, and it’s why graduates will chase your company for a job once they leave university. Both clients and staff believe you are an authority in your industry. Consistently demonstrate to them that you have that authority. Nothing demonstrates this more than knowledge, insight and creativity. You need to constantly be a thought leader in your industry so that your business is future forward and ready.
Business values also need to be evident in the operations of your business. How you recruit and select staff, how you choose and maintain clients, how you present your business, how you and your staff dress and the code of conduct of your business. You need to be concerned about the credibility and aesthetics of your business.
Finally, business values need to be evident in the branding of your business. What is your business’s corporate identity? What are your corporate colours, and why? Are staff aware of the brand identity, do they use it? More importantly, do they use it as they should? Is this identity easily translated by clients?
Decide today to define your fabulous. Develop your personal and business values to a level strong enough to enable you positively dictate the experience of current and prospective clients with your business, the growth of your business, and the leadership experience with your staff.