Personal brand is something that has excited my thinking for a few years now. I have worked with entrepreneurs, artists and business people on their personal brand and I love that it is one of the services that I offer.
But it wasn’t always thus.
Seventeen years ago I moved from Melbourne to a small farm just outside a busy tourist town 100 or so km’s away. For a few years, I commuted to my job as PR Manager for a national organisation creating and implementing strategies along with my team of five.
After a while, I realised that although I had moved to paradise, I spent very little time there and knew few people, because the bulk of my time was travelling to or from my Melbourne job. So, I took a plunge, left a well-paid job to start up on my own. Something that I had never considered doing before.
Ascend Public Relations and Communications was the result and for a while my previous employer kept giving me work that I could do from home so I was in a good position while I started the planning and marketing process.
My business moved forward very slowly. So slowly, sometimes it felt like I was going backwards. I was unknown in an industry where word of mouth is very important and where, at least in the immediate area, most businesses were small and on tight budgets.
My major concern was income. I had a mortgage, 20 acres, cows, and horses – and they are expensive!
This was the background to my first BIG mistake in personal branding. I was encouraged to tender for some community consultation work for the local Shire. It was work that I was skilled at from a long and varied career, I jumped at the opportunity – a chance to meet the community, a chance to earn some income. I loved the project and soon after tendered to do the same thing in another town in the Shire.
What had not occurred to me was that this was the work the public were seeing. This is what they thought that I did. They had no way of knowing that this was a stopgap for me. Good honest work, but not what I did.
The next mistake was that while looking for work, I offered my services for little or no cost to community organisations. I still do this, it is very much a part of my ‘brand’ but I am more discriminating about where my effort will have the greatest impact and how much I can do without compromising my paid work or undervaluing the work that I do.
None of these things occurred to me when I was thinking of my brand.
I was to go on and create a second business, same services, different audience about 5 years later, potentially very confusing to my audience. But I had learned from these experiences and mitigated the confusion wherever possible. And, I built a much stronger personal brand in the process.
My Key Learnings:
- Do what you love, love what you do, but try not to get sidetracked – even for money!
- Network, Network, Network. I was feeling lethargic from a perceived business failure when I know that when I leave the office to network, business comes to me
- Provide assistance where you think that you can add the most value, but do it in a way that it does not undervalue the work that you do
This is the first of the series in my own personal brand process you can see the next three posts here
Meet Juanita at Broderick Photography