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Discussions on… being the business people are attracted to

~ with Celeste S

We all want our business to be the magnet that attracts the very best talent, partners, funders, collaborators and vendors. We want to surround ourselves with the very best in order for the product/service we are building to be just that, the best. Competitors steal the talent we want, the funders we need to survive, and the collaborators we need to blow up our business. But what if you could take control back. What if YOUR business could be the chosen one.

As entrepreneurs we build our product’s brand, and often neglect our business brand. Our knee-jerk reaction is to focus on making money and selling that product/service. This also means we overlook the fact that our business needs the right people to get the best product up and running and sold, one that leaves a lasting impact, for the loyal customers we seek, the compounding referrals we need, and the increased brand equity we require to put a value to our business. The reality is that what we are selling is only as good as the people behind it. How will we reach our ambitious business objectives if we do not have the very people it takes to get us there, from employees to suppliers to partners and collaborators.

Celeste, a specialist in Employer Brand Marketing, touches on key questions we should be addressing in this regard:

Have you established a well thought out value exchange?

Attracting the right people to your business is all about value exchange: what is the give, what is the get. What will you give them in exchange for their dedication, skills-set, experience, service, expertise? It is shallow and short sighted for us as a future-fit business to think this is just a financial exchange. Throwing in pyjama days, free Friday lunches and bringing your dog to work is not deep enough to warrant the same level of dedication from your employees as you give to your business. Your dedication as a founder comes with heart, you ARE the business, you live and breathe the business, and you deeply believe in what you are creating. That’s the thing, the value exchange between your business and the people you invite in to drive it, is deep. People who consider working for, supplying, partnering or collaborating with your business are justifying to themselves why they should enter into any relationship with your business. Potential employees are asking, what is the culture, how can I learn from and be inspired by the business leaders and immediate team, how am I contributing to the company's purpose and growing in the process. Potential investors are asking if this business resonates with the rest of their portfolio, if it shows potential for growth for their investment, if they believe equally in the power of its vision, and the entrepreneur behind it. Potential collaborators ask if your business aligns with their offering and compliments their business and clientele, whether together, one can fight a greater fight. And ALL of them are asking, do my values resonate with your business and how can I be better for the relationship I have with your business. THIS is how they justify working with your business.

Are you building your business brand in tandem with your product’s brand?

Picture a product on a shelf. You look at the ingredients. It’s not vegan, so you put it down, not for you. The ingredients on the product tells you the story. That is your product's brand.

Your employer brand is the same. What do you stand for? What are the ingredients for your organisation in terms of your culture, your attitude and behaviours, your value exchange in what you are offering, your mission/vision, your reason for being, the cause behind the very existence of your business. We all have a personal brand, what it is that we want to be associated with, and the question is, does this association with your business help us align with this?

When your business engages with all these people, there are expectations which we as the creative entrepreneur behind the business need to take ownership of. To do this we need to make the shift and build both our product/service and business brand in tandem. Yes, both should be on the manufacturing line. Both need to be built. Both need to be a brand that emotionally connects. They need to work alongside one another and grow simultaneously, one cannot grow without the other. To only focus on your target market and neglect all the people involved in bringing your product/service to life, is a common mistake. You have to plant the right grapes and tend to their every need to get to making the best wine.

Are you sharing your business story?

Start telling the story behind “why should I come and work with/for you”. For the creative entrepreneur, you may not say I am the biggest or most established, and that’s okay, these traditional more archaic angles are no longer the lures they used to be. Stop looking at your corporate brand as traditional businesses do. Scratch deeper and look at the activity and behaviour behind building your business brand. Don’t know where to start? Take to the streets, ask what people are looking for in an employer, partner, supplier. The businesses of the future may not be the biggest, they may not have been around for decades, but most businesses founded by creative entrepreneurs offer innovation, flexibility, creativity, and a deep cause behind them, dedicated to change and impacting the world for the better. Perhaps there is potential to have shares, or be a partner/co-founder. Or maybe the very fact that people can be a part of building something that will change the world is the hook. Interestingly, the more traditional businesses of the past are still trying to rehash what their cause could be, while our creative entrepreneurs have founded their businesses on a cause from the start.

Celeste S enlightens us that business branding offers a sustainable model to futureproof your business by getting the right people to work with or alongside your business right from the onset to carry your business forward. It is to our advantage to recognise how people actually drive our business. Without people we do not have a business. Our products and services can even be differentiated by the people in (and connected to) our business. Take the first step to think people first and follow through with building your business proposition around that, weaving it into your business model. Attract, hire and collaborate with those that mirror your purpose and business beliefs. When done right, you will reap the rewards of a committed, motivated and passionate team of people who from all angles of your business fight every day to reach that end vision you are driving. It starts with having a clear business brand.

It is no longer B2B or B2C. It is P2P: People to People.

“Solving niche challenges founders face”.

Illustrator: Lisa Williams (Instagram: @artist_llw)


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