Where should an entrepreneur focus when just starting out? Business vs brand
Starting a business may seem fun and simple; you have an idea and you want to pursue it. That's what I thought when I started my first business. However, there's more to focus on, such as red flags and where to shift my focus when growing a business. I will share the mistake I made with my business when I was so focused on the brand at the beginning that I wasn't giving my business the attention it needed.
Here is what I was doing wrong: I owned a small recycling business, and it was doing okay at the very beginning when it was strictly in business mode. I was making a decent paycheck, building my customer base, and focusing on setting up routes to make customers happy. This was at first. Then, my head got bigger, and I started watching shows like Shark Tank. I began to learn about branding and thought, "Why not build a brand?" That's when my focus shifted 360 degrees. I started looking for a vanity number, found a cool one, and decided to buy it. I spent money on designing the logo, then poured money into the website. I needed a trademark, which cost me thousands. While all this was happening, I was not giving my business the attention it needed because I was more focused on the bigger picture than just being a local recycling company. I wanted to go big or go home, envisioning bigger things like a nationwide business. Then reality hit me; the small business that was providing me with income started to decline. I was losing customers, and I didn't have the same drive I once did.
What it takes to grow a business:
This is why I want to discuss the difference between a business and a brand and which one you should focus on first and when you should focus on the other. Growing a business requires a more hands-on approach. It's you and your customers, and your mission is clear: making money and making customers happy. If I told you to order something from Amazon in the year 2000, you probably wouldn't even know who Amazon is and why. That's because they were busy building a business and focusing on branding. Amazon was launched in 1994.
What comes with building a business:
Time: Building a business will require sacrifice and will consume a lot of your time that was previously spent on leisure, but it's worth it once the business becomes successful.
Physical work: You will need to put in most of the labor to set an example for your team members. Elon Musk used to sleep in his Tesla factory on the floor; that's leadership!
Hiring: Understand the value each person will bring, which means going through tons of resumes.
Customer service: Managing customers, from taking orders to dealing with upset customers.
Growing your customer base: Always be on the hunt for finding more customers. This can involve email marketing or a little promotional advertising for your products or services.
Emotional roller coaster: Growing a business will have its good weeks and bad weeks, which can be an emotional roller coaster. Keep grinding.
Inventory: If you're selling goods, you need to keep your inventory stocked. Find software that can help with that. If you're selling services, manage customers with a scheduling software.
Accounting: Preparing your balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and other documents for your accountant.
Billing: Whether you're selling or servicing a business or preparing for weekly payroll, this is a commitment that is recommended to do a little of every day. Don't let this one pile up on you.
So, what's the difference between Business vs. Brand?
If you take a closer look at these nine aspects, what do they have in common? They all require you to be physically involved and focused. The phrase "hard work pays off" comes from building a business versus building a brand. Making money doesn't come easy, especially if your focus is scattered. Now, let me discuss what it takes to grow a brand.
What it takes to grow a brand:
Growing a brand is the opposite of growing a business; it requires more of a desk job. Essentially, you're saying you want to be recognized. Forget the business; you want to be known, right? Here's what it takes to grow a brand:
Trust: Consumers won't consider you a brand until you are well-known and trusted. That comes with building a great business first.
Money... lots of it: Businesses raise money for brand awareness and usually end up giving up stakes in their shares to secure funding.
Press releases: You can either send these out yourself or hire a firm that can start at $500 to $50,000 a month every time you send a press release to reporters who might take interest in your business.
Social media marketing: Scheduling posts for social media. With so many platforms, you may want to hire one or two full-time people just to run this for your brand.
Lawyers: You will need lawyers for branding, whether it's for trademarks, copyright, or other important legal matters for your business.
Affiliate marketing: Creating an affiliate partnership program for your business is an effective tool for brand awareness and marketing, but it will require a full-time person to run it.
Email marketing: Building a strong email list to keep your users and buyers engaged.
PPC campaigns: Online ads to ensure you're at the top of the list when being searched.
And a lot more Time: Building a brand doesn't happen overnight, and it definitely doesn't come solely from raising capital. It comes with persistence, being a reliable business, and a trustworthy one.
Bottom line: Brand vs. Business:
Building a brand doesn't happen overnight. The reason consumers can order online or walk into a marketplace and pick something out is not just because of cool designs; it's because the business has built a reputable company that becomes a household brand, and people trust it.
Starting a business can be filled with illusions; it can be stressful, draining, and possibly deplete your life savings. That's why I highly recommend building a money-making business and giving your branding some effort in the beginning. What's a brand if you're not making money? But what's a business without a brand, you ask? It's still a business. It will generate income, employ people, and more. Once you have a solid business where customers are happy, your business will speak for itself. When was the last time you saw a commercial for Ferrari or Lamborghini? They don't bother pouring millions of dollars into advertising when they know they've built a reputable business with a desirable product. When it comes to business vs. brand, my final say is to build a business.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The laws and regulations regarding business licenses may vary from state to state and are subject to change. It is important to contact your local state office to determine which licenses are required for any specific businesses. Additionally, please note that this article contains affiliate links and we may earn a commission from our affiliate partners or Amazon links. If you are considering starting a business, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a qualified lawyer, business broker, or professional in your area. The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon as such.