The more your business scales, the more your persona becomes of interest to the public. As a small business, this persona is inextricably tied to your individual image as business owner—after all, you’re the person driving your company’s vision, culture, and policies, and people are curious to know more about you before becoming customers. The best way to create a positive public persona for yourself and your business is to consciously invest in it. Here are 5 ideas to keep in mind as you proactively shape your image.
1. Show Your Personality
Neither brands nor individuals are memorable unless they have an interesting personality. People want to know what makes you tick, what makes you unique, what your style is, what you’re passionate about—and the answers to these questions will ultimately determine whether or not they take you and your work seriously.
Of course, the personality you convey publicly is also a reflection on your business, so remaining professional and respectful is essential. Within that framework, consider how you can paint a self-portrait that stays true to yourself and to the mission of your company. This picture will serve as a guide for how you present yourself and interact with others, both in person and online.
2. Position Yourself as an Expert
You started a business in order to meet a need or solve a problem in your community. As such, your public persona should constantly reinforce your industry expertise, whether you’re sharing advice, commenting on other peoples’ content, or providing helpful content of your own. This doesn’t mean that you have to pretend to know everything, or act like you never make mistakes. It just means that you should feel free to share the wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm you have about your industry with others.
3. Cultivate Transparency
There are a handful of issues that can undermine a public persona, and one of these issues is a lack of transparency. Business owners who try to cover up fraud, illegal practices, safety hazards—or even more minor issues like poor product quality or customer service snafus—quickly feel the backlash. In your own public persona, be as open and honest as possible with your customers and audience, even when things aren’t going well. Addressing issues head on, and declaring your commitment to make needed improvements and changes, will help you maintain a positive image even during rough times.
4. Invest in Your Online Profiles
As a busy entrepreneur, your social probably can’t fit in a networking event every week. But that doesn’t mean you can’t connect with influencers and industry leaders. Leveraging your online profiles is a great way to cultivate a positive public persona. Engaging with customers, social followers, and other entrepreneurs in your industry or local area can help you flesh out your image and give passive spectators a great impression of you and your business.
5. Give Back to Your Community
Today, organizations and individuals who invest in social causes (think Tom’s shoes, Warby Parker eyeglasses, and Sevenly clothing) are being rewarded for their benevolent business models. If you’re passionate about a cause in your local area and have the resources to give back or actively participate in it, don’t hold back! Investing in your community will give your public persona a boost and have a positive impact on your neighborhood as well.
The Bottom Line
Your public persona will be a key asset for your business as you scale. Make sure to invest early on so that, when more eyes are on your company and you as its leader, your words and actions tell the story you want people to hear.