5 Mistakes to Avoid in Business and Personal Branding

5 Mistakes to Avoid in Business and Personal Branding

I started my first business about 8 years ago and it was hands down the best decision I could’ve ever made at that time. However, that doesn’t mean it was easy, and it certainly wasn’t glamorous. I struggled a lot my first few years at it. There were times I didn’t have money for bills, rent or gas for my car, but I believed in what I was doing, and that kept pushing me forward.

No matter if you’ve been in business for 10 years or 10 days, you will encounter some challenges that will make you second guess yourself. Believe me, I’ve been through. The key is to learn from those challenges and allow them to make you better. Today I want to share with you some of the mistakes I made starting out in hopes that you will avoid these pitfalls.


1. Don’t live in a shell

When I first got started in business, I stayed locked away in my home office for 12 hours a day doing my work. On one hand it was good that I was actually grinding getting work done, but on the other hand it created far worse effects of loneliness and shyness. It wasn’t until I started getting out, networking and building my personal brand (in person) that I experienced true success. You can’t stay to yourself. You must share your message to the world through video, social media and networking.


2. Don’t forget about the business side

This is where I believe most personal brands and businesses fail the most. Personal branding isn’t all about being in front of a camera, having nice photos, have a 10,000 IG followers and and being on stage. There is a business side to branding that most people neglect to address. If you are to succeed with your brand, there are business processes and systems you must have in place in order for the branding machine to work and actually make money. Things like lead captures, sales cycles, financial reporting and business operations. The rookie mistake is to ignore all the boring business-related stuff and go for the low-hanging fruit. Invest in your company, not just your persona.


3. Don’t focus all your attention on the outside

What I mean by that is: there’s more to being a brand that what is SEEN. Don’t be the 19 year old life coach. Don’t be the person who has NO EXPERIENCE in the very thing they call themselves an expert in. The harsh reality is not everyone should be a public figure. If you’re recently getting started in your field, don’t try to brand yourself. [ctt title=”Spend 3-5 years hustling, grinding, learning and gaining real life and business experience. ” tweet=”Spend 3-5 years hustling, grinding, learning and gaining real life and business experience. @cortneyssargent” coverup=”mf1Tn”]

That’s going DEEP. If a tree didn’t have roots several feet into the soil, it doesn’t matter how beautiful the branches are, it will soon fall to the ground and die. Don’t focus all your attention on the glamorous life of a public figure/personal brand. Go deep and BECOME the expert you say you are. If you already have the experience, great- keep honing your craft and becoming better.


4. Don’t be afraid of the small team

No matter how large a company may be today, it had a small start. No matter how big of a celebrity someone is, there was a time when they were considered a “nobody”. Your biggest mistake as an emerging entrepreneur and business professional is despising the days of small beginnings. If you have a team of 3, embrace it. Don’t feel the need to inflate things and make yourself or your business seem bigger or more than what it is. From my experience, the “little guys” come out on top more than you may expect. [ctt title=”It’s not about how big your team is, it’s about how well you can execute the mission. Quality over quantity.” tweet=”It’s not about how big your team is, it’s about how well you can execute the mission. Quality over quantity.” coverup=”dZG19″]


5. Don’t think you can do it all yourself

There was a time when I thought I didn’t need anyone’s help because I was superman, when in reality I was only Clark Kent, the nerdy guy with glasses. And, it was my downfall. I had a hard time relying on people until I got tired of hitting that brick wall. I started delegating and investing. It’s important to invest in your business because when you do, you’re investing in yourself. It takes time, money, people and sacrifices to become an well-established brand. Don’t sell yourself short by not investing.

Leave a comment and let me know which of these stood out to you and which of these do you need to work on?

Build a Company Not Just a Brand

What a lot of people really don’t know and where I believe most personal brands fail the most is the BUSINESS SIDE.

Personal branding is not all lights, camera, action and being in the forefront. Personal branding is 10% talent and 90% BUSINESS. Case-in-point, what’s the name of your company? Do you have an LLC? When was the last time you filed your annual report?

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then you’ve already lost.

If you are to succeed with your brand, there are business processes and systems you must have in place in order for the branding machine to work and actually make you money. Things like a marketing funnel, sales cycles, lead captures, financial reporting, content editing, web design, website analytics, graphic design, hiring contractors, business logistics, operations, printing, calculating ROI, calendar software, project management… the list literally goes on and on.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then you probably don’t have those things in place, therefore you’ve lost again.

My point is this: if you’re a public speaker, you need a speaker’s contract outlining the details of your speaking engagement. If you’re a graphic designer, you need a set price list and contract for all clients. If you’re an author, you need to know how to calculate your profit margin on books. If you’re a musician, you must learn how to independently distribute your music and build a fan base with social media. If you sell products on the Internet, you need lead magnets on your website. Should I continue or do you catch my drift?

PAY ATTENTION to the business and company side of things because it’s always the small foxes that destroy the vine. Don’t just build a public persona, build a business that can stand the test of time.

Don’t just be the FACE of the brand, be the CEO of the company.

9 Characteristics of “The Grind” and Success (#7-9) + Live Periscope Broadcast

Read part 1 here

7. The grind produces productivity. The grind is not about just being busy. It’s not about consuming time. The purpose of the grind is for results/productivity. If you’re not being productive, you’re not grinding; you’re just busy wasting time. It’s not enough to just be busy; you must be busy with the evidence of results. Without productivity, there is no progress. Failure is also a part of the grind. In every failure there is a lesson. When you fail at something, you better draw out the lesson. When you don’t draw out the lesson you’re a failure, but when you do you’re a victor. That’s why you can be productive when you fail because you actually learned a valuable lesson that can prevent further failure.If you’re not being productive, you’re not grinding; you’re just busy wasting time.

[ctt title=”If you’re not being productive, you’re not grinding; you’re just busy wasting time.” tweet=”If you’re not being productive, you’re not grinding; you’re just busy wasting time.” coverup=”30onQ”]

8. The grind teaches discipline (most of the time the hard way). Be honest: there’s something that you need to be doing right now. Something that you know will make you a better person. Something that will change your life; change your family’s life. But you haven’t done it yet because you’re not disciplined. Until you become discipline you will never be successful.

[ctt title=”Until you become discipline you will never be successful.” tweet=”Until you become discipline, you will never be successful.” coverup=”430kq”]

9. The grind keeps you on your toes. It keeps you alert, focused and ready to respond to any situation that may come up. Always be ready in and out of season. Preparation is key because if you’re grinding correctly, some things will happen that you didn’t expect and if you’re not ready, you’ll miss the opportunity.If you STAY READY, you won’t have to get ready.

[ctt title=”If you STAY READY, you won’t have to get ready.” tweet=”If you STAY READY, you won’t have to get ready.” coverup=”WJ136″]


3 Reasons Why Your Business Isn’t Growing

1. No Clear Strategy or Vision – When you’re not clear on why you’re in business or the results your business is delivering, it’s extremely difficult to grow it. If you don’t know the direction you’re going in, it’s very easy to get off track and loose focus.


2. Lack of Systems – A solid business is comprised of good systems. A system is defined as two or more moving parts working together for one common goal. If you don’t have systems in place, your business will fail very quickly. It’s essential to have systems in place for business development, marketing and advertising. We’ve all heard the phrase “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” That same thing applies to growing and operating business. There will always be problems and kinks in the system, but you don’t have to destroy the whole system, just fix the one problem and move forward. If you stay focused on solutions, problems will not be obstacles of progress, but instead they will be opportunities for growth.


3. Lack of Marketing/Advertising – One of the most common pitfalls for business owners is marketing and advertising. You must market and advertise your business or product. If no one knows about you they can’t benefit from what you have and ultimately you don’t make money. To be clear, marketing involves the strategies of obtaining business. Advertising involves presenting your business message or product in forms of media (billboards, online ads, print ads, social networks, television, radio, etc.)


First you should figure out why it’s not growing. Go back to step one and analyze what you did and figure out where you went wrong. This may be difficult to do, considering it is your business and it’s not growing. We strongly recommend that you seek a business consultant.

The Best Way Start a Business With No Money

You have an awesome business idea. You’ve been thinking about it for years and now is the time you want to step out there and try it. And, I know you have some reservations because people have told you that it’s hard to start a business, especially without startup capital. But, actually it’s not as hard as you may think.

Anyone can start a business with no upfront capital- all you need is the right idea and a few basic principles. This is a highly effective strategy because it relieves the pressure and stress of having to raising money to start your business. It also has proven to work for me down through the years with other projects and startup ideas.

The best way to start the business with no upfront money is to use what you have to get what you need. The key to starting a business with no money is to find ways to make the business startup pay for itself. By using what you already have access to, you can make money without actually having startup capital.

To explain this, let’s look at a real-world business situation:

Let’s say you want to start a business washing cars. But, the problem is you don’t have any supplies or equipment and no money purchase them. Since you have no supplies whatsoever, use some of the things that you have around the house. Find some old towels and a mop bucket. And, since you don’t have carwash fluid, you can use dish washing liquid. Now that you have the essentials, ask a neighbor, family member or spouse if you can wash their car for 10 or 15 dollars. With the money you earn from that job, you can buy some actual carwash fluid and a carwash sponge. Those items won’t cost you any more than $10 – $15 at the dollar store.

So, there you have it. This business principle is guaranteed to help you get from where you are to where you want to be.

Another way to start your business with no money, is to borrow. For many people this is pretty obvious. Using our real world example of starting a car washing business, if you don’t have a water hose you can borrow a neighbor’s or family member’s. And, after you’ve washed enough cars and earned some profit, you can then purchase your own hose. An important thing to remember about borrowing is to doing it in integrity. After you’ve earned the money you initially invested through borrowing, paid it back so you’re not in debt. This is called breaking even. This creative strategy of borrowing will help you get your business off the ground and set you up for healthy growth.

Speaking of such, if you want your business to truly grow, you must invest into it. So, after you’ve been in business for a little while, it’s now time to put money back into your business. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons in your reinvestment. Don’t do something just because you can; do it because it’s the most efficient, effective thing to do. Don’t spend money just because you have it. Wise investments will guarantee business growth and more customers.

At the beginning stages of business, it’s important to understand loss, gross profit and net profit.

Loss is the negative difference between retail price and cost of production.

Gross profit is the difference between revenue and the cost of making a product or providing a service, before deducting overhead (payroll, taxes, etc.).

Net profit, also referred to as bottom line, net income or net earnings, is a measure of the profitability after accounting for all costs. Basically, it’s the total amount of money after expenses.

What to Do When Your Business Isn’t Growing

Recognize and accept that it’s not growing. Determine if you want to improve the business to profitability or step away from it and close your doors.

If you want to shut it all down, take the necessary precautions. If you have a partner, then you need to discuss the situation with him/her/them. You certainly don’t want any bad blood with anyone concerning business because that follows you. Next, pay off any remaining bills or debts. Another important step in closing your business is to notify your employees (if any) and customers. You can’t just disappear. What if you want to reopen at some point– you want your employees and customers to return. It’s very bad business to just up and shut down without prior notice. You want your exit to be pleasant.

Now on the other hand, if you want to improve it, then you should proceed forward by locating the problem. You can do that two different ways. You can seek help from a business consultant. Or you can try to work it out yourself. But, obviously that hasn’t worked thus far. So, find a business consultant to help you patch things up. A business consultant will help you figure out why your business has not been growing. You want to keep this process as easy as possible; simply retracing your steps back the beginning when your first started your business can accomplish this.

There is another tool that you can use to analyze your business. It’s called a SWOT Analysis. SWOT Analysis is a structured planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture.


For further reading: 3 Reasons Why Your Business Isn’t Growing

10 Steps Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

Author: Caron Beesley – Small Business Administration

Starting a business? Confused about the planning, legal and regulatory steps you should follow?

Did you know that home based businesses are required to hold permits to operate legally in most states? What about incorporation? Many new businesses assume they need to incorporate or become an LLC from the get go– but the truth is, more than 70 percent of small businesses are owned by unincorporated sole proprietors (although even this group is required to register their businesses).

So, variables aside, there are still some fundamental steps that any business needs to follow to get started. SBA has compiled 10 steps that can help you plan, prepare, and manage your business – while taking care of the start-up legalities. Not all these steps will apply to all businesses, but working through them will give you a sense of what needs your attention and what you can check off.

Step 1 – Write a Business Plan

Yeah, yeah, you know you should write a business plan, whether you need to secure a business loan or not. The thing is, a business plan doesn’t have to be encyclopedic and it doesn’t have to have all the answers. A well-prepared plan – revisited often – will help you steer your business all along its growth curve. Try to think of your business plan as a living, breathing project, not a onetime document. Break it down into mini-plans – one for marketing, one for pricing, one for operations, and so on. Take a look at SBA’s Business Planning Guide for more ideas.

Step 2 – Get Help and Training

Starting a business can be a lonely endeavor, but there are lots of free in-person and online resources that can help advise you as you get started. Check out what‘s offered at your Small Business Development Centers, SCORE (which offers free mentoring services), Women’s Business Centers, or your local SBA office.

Step 3 – Choose Your Business Location

Where you locate your business may be the single most important decision you make. Many factors come into play such as proximity to suppliers, the competition, transportation access, demographics, and zoning regulations. Check out SBA’s Tips for Choosing a Business Location and this blog: How to Choose the Best Location for your Business.

Step 4 – Understand Your Financing Options

You may choose to bootstrap, fall back on savings, or even keep a full-time job until your business is profitable, but if you are looking for an external source of financing, these resources explain your options.

Step 5 – Decide on a Business Structure

Going it alone or forming a partnership? Thinking of incorporating? What about an LLC? How you structure your business can reduce your personal liability for business losses and debts. Some choices can give you tax benefits. To help you determine the right structure for your business, here’s an overview of your options and some information on how to file the necessary paperwork in your state and the tax implications of your decision.

Step 6 – Register Your Business Name (“Doing Business As”)

Registering a “Doing Business As” name or “trade name” is only needed if you name your business something other than your personal name, the names of your partners, or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation. Here’s how to register your “Doing Business As” name.

Step 7 – Get a Tax ID

Not every business needs a tax ID from the IRS (also known as an “Employer Identification Number” or EIN), but if you have employees, run a business partnership, a corporation or meet certain IRS criteria, you must obtain an EIN from the IRS. You’ll also need to start paying estimated taxes to the IRS; Read this blog that explains more about this process.

Step 8 – Register with Tax Authorities

Employment taxes, sales taxes, and state income taxes are handled at the state level. Learn more about your state’s tax requirements and how to comply.

Step 9 – Apply for Permits and Licenses

All businesses, even home-based businesses, need a license or permit to operate. Here’s a guide that explains more and includes a handy “Permit Me” tool that lets you determine what your permit and licensing needs are, based on your zip code and business type.

Step 10 – Hiring Employees

If you’re hiring employees, follow these 10 steps. If you’re working with a contractor or 1099, read 5 Things to Know About Hiring Independent Contractors.

Effective Business Networking

Business networking is a socioeconomic activity by which like-minded business people communicate. Business networking is making connections with others in a meaningful way, and looking for opportunities to help them, all while growing your own business or product. Here are a few tips on how to effectively network with other entrepreneurs and business owners.

Let people know who much you care – “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Dale Carnegie

Give. Never make a connection with someone for the sole purpose of trying to get something from them. It’s much better, in the long run, to give something to people. First be a giver because that opens the door of opportunity for someone to give to you. And, those opportunities will come naturally. You don’t have to be a salesman or try to manipulate people.

Practice the art of listening. When most people converse, they don’t actually listen. What they are doing is silently preparing their own rebuttal or pitch. Instead, actually listen to what others are saying to you, so when they finish talking, you have something relative to respond with; and it makes the other person feel that you’re genuinely interested in them and their motivations and goals. And, if you can find a way to help them, whether it be through connection with a key person that they may want to know, or giving them a pointer to some information or resources that would really help them, you will make an impression that is impossible to duplicate through normal networking manipulation. Remember, real networking is about helping others succeed. When you help others with their success, your success is inevitable.

Ask open-ended questions. Ask questions that lead to conversations and not just a yes or no response. Ask who, what, when, where, why. This form of questioning will lead to an effective discussion. People will know that you are genuinely interested in them and what they do. Instead of asking: Have you ever been to a local business seminar?” ask this question instead: “I’ve been to a few local business seminars and found them to be pretty helpful. What do you think about them? Have they helped your business grow?” As opposed to the first question, which leads to a dead end yes or no, the second question opens the door for the other person to speak about their experience. Even if they’ve never been to a local seminar, you can ask why, which leaves the conversation open and leads to further dialogue.

Be able to articulate what you do. Nothing is more embarrassing than being asked what you do for a living and you draw a blank or fumble over your words. That shows that you’re not confident, you’re not sure of who you are, what you do and it ultimately shows your unprofessionalism. On the other hand, you may know exactly what you do and know how you want to say it, but if you can’t articulate it when asked, it doesn’t matter. People can’t read your mind. You must be able to express yourself in a clear concise manner.

Develop an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a short summary that is used to quickly and simply define a person, profession, product, service, organization or event, and its value proposition. It basically tells who, what, when, where, why and sometimes how. It is a concise, simple and effective way for you to introduce yourself to people. When meeting people for the first time, it should be no longer than 30-45 seconds. It’s good to prepare and learn the same elevator speech at different lengths. Have one that is 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 60 seconds and even 90-120 seconds long. If you participate in an open-discussion networking forum, you may be required to speak about your business for up to 2-4 minutes. Being prepared in this manner shows that you’re polished, prepared and ready to work.

Have professional marketing material. Professional, up-to-date marketing materials are extremely important for effective networking. Having a business card or brochure that you can leave with people makes a world of difference. What this does is creates a lasting impression of you and creates the opportunity for them to remember you. If you’re torn between having a business card or a brochure, let’s settle that now–BUSINESS CARD. Having a business card is a must-have for almost every entrepreneur or business owner. As long as you’re consistently networking and marketing your business, you can never have too many business cards. Depending on your business or field, brochures are also good to have; but business cards are better. Why–because, they’re small and straight to the point. They fit easily in almost any pocket or wallet. However, the choice to use a business card, brochure or any other marketing material is ultimately up to you. Do what works most effectively for you and your business.

Earn Extra Money

Who doesn’t need extra money these days? According to a national pole, 8 out of 10 Americans say that the economy is in poor shape. With the fluctuations on Wall Street and the unstable real-estate market, everyone is looking for extra money in today’s society. Even the other 2 out of 10 Americans that believe the economy is in an upswing can use a little extra something. Well we’ve put together a little list of ways to earn some extra moola (some very creative).

Get a second job. That’s somewhat of a given for most people. The classic American that needs more income will generally seek to get a second or third job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 5 percent of people in the U.S. work multiple jobs.

Start a business. There are millions of small business owners in the US. Depending on the type, starting a small business doesn’t require a lot of money, if any at all, and can be very lucrative.

Have a garage sale. This is a very practical way of earning some extra money. Everyone has something that they do not need. You can sell those things off at a garage sale and make some instant cash. In the US, there are 165,000 garage sales per week, earning $4,222,375 weekly. That’s a whopping $202.6 earned a year in garage sales! WOW!

Invest in stock market. The stock market is risky, but can be extremely lucrative. But, this is not an instant money-maker. Stock require time to yield a good ROI (Return On Investment).

Play the lottery. Wish to your lucky stars and play the lottery. You just may win. The most common numbers in the Mega Millions lottery are: 4, 29, 36 and 48. Even though your odds at winning the lottery is pretty low, if won, it could change your life forever.

Start a Business With No Money

Anyone can start almost any business with no money. All you need is the right idea, a few basic principles to follow and a dead-on focus that leads to success. In this business development guide, we’re going to give you some tips, advice and some guidelines that will help you start the business you’ve always wanted to or just make some extra money from your favorite hobby.

1. Identify your passion or idea. All of us have passions and ideas. We were all given some sort of gift, talent, skill or idea. Believe it or not, but that thing can actually make you money, and possibly rich. So, what is that thing you’re passionate about? The thing people always ask you to do. The thing that when you do it, it makes you feel the happiest. The thing that you will do for free? Whatever your answer is, that is the thing that can take you to your wealthy place.

2. Eliminate expenses. Now that you’ve figured out what your passion/idea is, the next step is to figure out what the expenses are and find ways to eliminate them. With any business launch or operation, there will be expenses; that’s inevitable. If you can not eliminate the expenses, then you can not start a business with no money. However, there is an alternative, which is investors. If someone invests in your business, you won’t have to pay for anything yourself. So, to a certain extent this method is still considered starting a business with no money. (it’s just not your money)

3. Make the business pay for itself. The number one key to truly starting a business with no money is figuring out ways to make the business pay for itself. If you can figure that out, then you won’t have to pay for anything out of your pocket, or anyone else’s (including loans). Nine times out of ten there is at least one way that any business can pay for itself.

4. Write the vision and make it plain. It is extremely vital that you create a business plan. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate plan that has yearly financial projections and investment proposals. It just needs to be something where you can see where you want your business to go. Holding something in your mind and writing it down is two different things and yields two different results. Writing allows creative ideas to flow. When you write down your thoughts, they become more clear and you’re able to see the end in the beginning. This also allows for better planning. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

5. Re-evaluate and invest. After the business has started making money, take a step back and re-evaluate it. Is it going where you wanted it to go? Are your time investments equalling the return of business that you’re receiving? If so, continue to more forward and invest money back into the business. At this point you may want to form your business as a company. In that case, you will need to register with your city and/or state to get a business license and get an Employee ID number and/or Sales Tax number. In setting up a company, there can be a lot of “red tape”, so make sure that you cross all of your “t’s” and dot all of your “i’s”.