Mistake #1 in Our 5-Part Series
I’ve been an entrepreneur for close to 13 years now. I can tell you from personal experience that starting a business is not for everyone — it can be stressful, it takes a lot of time, and it can be very expensive. That said, trying to save a few dollars by not investing in hiring a professional to design your brand is always the wrong approach. The old saying that “you have to spend money to make money” is so true here. Investing in your brand early on pays off forever.
I strongly believe you need to think big when it comes to business. Put your best foot forward to achieve results. I remember one time, early on when I started my business, my husband and I were planning my booth to enter a tradeshow. My husband said to me,“You can’t look Mickey Mouse… we aren’t in Orlando!” We laughed and laughed, and I still think about what he said then today. No offence to Mickey, but I knew then and I know now that you have to make a strong impression to get the clients you want. I did just that — and you can too.
To start out on the right foot, you need to understand who you are, who your clients are and why you do what you do. Your brand reflects what you understand about the market you serve and your place in it. I always tell my clients I can only get them about 50% of the way. I can help them understand their brand and I sure can make them look amazing, but ultimately they have to fulfill the promises set out by their brand and deliver their product or service accordingly.
So many businesses don’t invest their resources in their brand. They think it’s something they can do later on, or they think it’s a waste of money overall. So not true. These same businesses wonder why they don’t make enough money, land the right clients, or achieve the growth they’ve always envisioned.
Having an outside perspective is hugely valuable and I can help businesses like yours. Truth be told, I even sought outside brand design services when I was developing Lab Creative to get a bigger perspective than my own. I valued the advice and guidance I could obtain from stepping back and getting another view.
Of course, your brand is never fixed in stone either. The truth of the matter is that the current survival rate for small- and medium-sized businesses in Canada declines over time. Industry Canada reports that approximately 85% of businesses that enter the marketplace survive one full year, 70% survive for two years and 51% survive for five years. Even if you design your brand with the best of intentions and support now, it won’t be perfect forever. A business is a changing entity, always evolving — and your brand has to grow alongside it. In my opinion, the best way to adapt and grow in a competitive marketplace is to continue to invest in your brand. Make changes along the way, while you stay true to your vision. The focus and drive a great brand can give you helps you beat the statistics, gain loyal clients and strengthen your business over time.
Stay tuned next week when we discuss Mistake #2 Undefined Market.