As Entrepreneurial CEO’s, we KNOW that there are a ton of stumbling blocks that trip us up, on the way to grow our businesses. Go figure! You’d think the journey would be easy, right? Nope! These trip-ups keep us in a never-ending loop of stopping and restarting in our businesses. It’s like you take one step forward and five back, right? (ugh!)
Since first bringing my business online (additionally, but not exclusively) way back in 2014, and being the ‘read-between-the-lines-pattern-matrix-seer’ that I am, I’ve seen entrepreneurs trapped in a constant cycle of starting, re-starting, starting, re-starting, starting and re-starting their businesses over, and over, and over, again. Groundhog Day anyone?
Back then, my clients wanted nothing more than branding over strategy (I still get enquiries for this!) so I focused on giving them what they wanted and sold A LOT of branding packages. Easier money for me for sure, but by focussing on VISIBILITY over STRATEGY my clients were missing out on the stuff that REALLY mattered.
They wanted a shit-hot brand, of COURSE, they did – but cool fonts, bright colours and a funky logo will only get you so far, because branding still needs to contain your MESSAGING and be targeted to your SOUL CLIENTS, and without these two key elements, well the branding’s gonna FLOP!!
Of course, I told my clients this… but hey, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink now, can you? And I sure as hell wasn’t gonna force anyone – heck! I’m the last person to do this because I too LOATHE being told what to do!
So, I gave them the branding they wanted and they’d go away happy because some of the branding worked like a charm, but for others, well, after a couple of months they’d end up ‘re-starting’ because the strategy just wasn’t there. Does this sound familiar?
I felt like I’d FAILED my clients because I KNOW that for a business to survive it’s not the BRANDING that keeps your head above water, but your STRATEGY.
BUT WHAT IS STRATEGY??
There are SO many different perceptions out there that it can be kinda hard to see what it’s all about. When I talk about strategy, I’m speaking about your business and your business is OPERATIONS – it is NOT your brand.
Your brand is the HEART of your business – the VALUES, DREAMS, VISION, MISSION and most importantly, your LIFE PURPOSE.
And, let’s be clear here too please, your LIFE PURPOSE is NOT your PROFESSION (you can check out my book about this here).
Your LIFE PURPOSE, when we properly understand what it is (and believe me this can take time) is what’s going to reveal your brand strategy and it will feed into your business operations.
Once I’d left my role as Branding and Communications Manager at Swarovski and looked to start up my own business, I did THE SAME as my clients!! Like them, I focused on Visibility through Branding, because this is what we’re conditioned to BELIEVE is the key to BUSINESS success. Hide your vulnerability behind the facade of the Branding, and step forward with a well-polished, but UNALIGNED business face. It makes sense at the time.
As employees, we’re conditioned to think that having a shit-hot branding system is what works, and it IS – only you’ve got to remember that these brands have been around year-in, year-out for 10, 20, 50 or 100 plus years! To get to that place takes a lot of long-term strategy and purposeful Brand Strategy. What I’m saying is that these brands have had practice, sure, but what’s kept them profitable wasn’t just their Business OPERATIONS, which includes the Branding but knowing the HEART of their brand, because it’s the heart of the brand that feeds into your business operations.
And this is where most entrepreneurs get sucked into the ‘start-re-start’ Vortex. They focus on Operations (Branding) and forget all about their strategy.
Rather than US running our businesses, we find that our businesses are running us! We’re constantly having to learn new operations or skills, and it’s dead easy to lose sight of what’s really important amidst the constant stream of having to manage Facebook Ads, SEO, website mastery, copywriting, sales page design, Word mastery, designing logos, content planning- (goodness that’s a long list of stuff and I know I’ve missed a lot out….), but although all of these elements are VITAL to your business growth, it means that you’re just constantly jumping from one hamster wheel to the next, and your business ends up running YOU!
SO HOW CAN WE GET OURSELVES BACK ON TRACK?
The first step towards getting off the hamster wheel and back on track is recognising that you’re stuck in the RESTART CYCLE that is when you are starting and restarting your business every time you and focusing on something new every time.
You’ve got a BIG vision that’s going to change the world, but you’ve gotten caught up in the Business Operations which are now running you. This means you’re only ever going to feel the joy of being a CEO Entrepreneur sporadically. Sure, as a Creative Visionary, you’re going to have to work hard and put in the hours, but you want to be spending the time implementing visions that’ll influence future generations – not being trapped in your own rat race.
Getting out of the restart cycle means taking a STEP BACK (or sometimes a few!) and taking time to focus on an easier, and more productive way to build both your business AND a brand that makes your heart sing.
Learning what operations you want to do yourself, and which you want to outsource (even if money’s tight) is something you need to consider. Working sensibly with the money you’ve got now will lead to profit in the long-term and leave you feeling energised, empowered and in control of BRAND YOU.
SO YOUR TAKEAWAY FOR TODAY IS:
TAKE STOCK OF YOUR BUSINESS
Take a moment to identify all the business operations that are running (or perhaps ruining!?) your life and learn what your life purpose is.
Your life purpose is the golden thread of your brand and knowing what this is will enable you to move forward and create a business AND a brand that’ll influence generations, and even more importantly make you the boss of your own life.
Do you agree? What experiences have YOU had around business building? What’s been keeping you from breaking through?
I’d love to hear from you.