Build Your Brand Before Building Your Workforce
August 26, 2020 by Lee Mulkowsky
If you’re a new solopreneur, you might be tempted to begin hiring so you can offload some of the more mundane but time-consuming tasks that come with running a business. But before you do, consider whether you’re ready. If you aren’t, that hire (or those hires) won’t likely to do you much good.
Recently established solopreneurs should have a solid brand in place prior to expanding into entrepreneurship. If you aren’t absolutely certain about what it is you do and sell, or who your market is, you’re likely to convey as much in any marketing efforts — and your fledgling business will suffer.
In the following sections, we lay out the top five reasons why, before hiring, solopreneurs should ensure that their brands clearly to convey the purpose and value proposition of their business.
You Have to Be Able to ‘Sell’ Your Brand to Attract Good Employees
“Surprisingly, finding the right talent might be the hardest part,” writes Reputation.com founder, Michael Fertik, in a piece for Forbes. “Attracting talent today requires more than starting bonuses, impressive perks, and a pool table; job seekers are scrutinizing your employer brand online.”
Solopreneurs who have only just arrived on the scene in their respective markets aren’t likely to have a sizable web presence, so high-quality potential employees — those with experience and track records of success in the relevant field — could well be leery of any job advertisement that came from them. That means the applicants those solopreneurs do get are more likely to be subpar, at least for the purposes of the job they need filled.
Employees Have to Know What They’re Selling in Order to Sell It
“Parks and Recreation” devotees will remember the inglorious fall of the fictional Entertainment 720, Pawnee, Indiana’s “first and only entertainment media conglomerate.” The company failed so spectacularly and quickly in large part because no one, not even its founders, had any real idea what it did, and its ‘brand’ consisted of little more than a flashily decorated airplane hangar and a cute logo. Unsurprisingly, its employees were even more confused than the owners about the business’s purpose.
A startup whose founder doesn’t have a firm grasp on the company’s raison d’etre or products hamstrings its employees from the outset. Just as the best salesperson in the world must have some idea of what they’re selling in order to sell it successfully, even someone you’ve hired to answer business-line calls or return customer emails needs to be aware of and understand the product or service they’re working with. If you don’t really have an offering, you’ll soon find yourself in an “Emperor’s New Clothes” situation — and abandoned by your employees and customers alike.
Your Budget Will Thank You
Financially speaking, things may look peachy when you first start out, thanks to your years of careful saving in anticipation of opening your own business, and perhaps outside funds. But your new enterprise won’t stay in the black for long if you spend in ways that don’t end up paying you back. Owing to taxes, benefits, equipment, and other costs, employees account for some of the biggest cash outlay of any company. If their work doesn’t end up bringing in more revenue than they cost, though, your employees will have cost you money.
“Finding technically qualified people who can function effectively in a rapidly growing startup venture is not [an] easy task,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology lecturer Joe Hadzima writes in a piece for Boston Business Journal. “[B]e sure to devote the time to make sure that your hires are as close to perfect “10s” as possible. Anything less will be a drag on your business.”
If you don’t yet have the sort of solid online presence that will help bring in those ‘perfect 10’ candidates, as well as a good book of business, hiring is probably not yet a good financial move for your new company.
Customers Want Companies That ‘Know Thyself’
Customers are drawn to brands that stay consistent in their marketing. Use of the same color or colors in every promotional appearance, for example, can help a brand increase its recognition by as much as 80%, according to a study by the University of Loyola. And “[c]onsistent brand presentation across all platforms increases revenue by up to 23%,” according to a Forbes.com piece by Gabriel Shaoolian.
“If your product packaging, social media posts, website, and promotional material send a uniform message about your brand identity and its core values, you are more likely to cash in,” Ivana Vojinovic writes in a piece for Small Biz Genius.
A company owner who has spent significant time and effort to determine the best colors for their logo and develop the right voice for their promotional material will want to stick to these choices because they matter to the brand.
How Can You Size up the Competition If You Don’t Know Who Your Competition Is?
One of the first lessons of business-plan writing 101 is to know the competition. A brand that hasn’t got two firm fingers on its own pulse doesn’t even know its own business offering, so it can’t very well know who (or what) is a would-be competitor. However, only those startups with a good idea of what else is currently out there to meet its customer needs can play up their own service or product differentiators. And here’s why that’s so important: The ‘winner’ in this game gets the customer.
As Alan Gleeson, former general manager of Palo Alto Software UK, writes in a piece on competition: “Your business goals are best achieved by focusing on meeting the needs of your target audience better than anyone else … and consistently innovating so as to ensure your proposition always stacks up favorably against the wider competition.”
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