I’m going to tell you a story about a project that I once worked on because it touches on one of the biggest problems a lot of entrepreneurs face when they’re starting out, and the mistakes that can easily be made when you put the cart before the horse and don’t get clear on your brand before you take your business online.

I once worked with a very sweet girl. She was convinced that running an online business was the answer to her career. She was smart, she was extremely likable, and she was driven. She was also unfocused. She was so caught up in the idea of having an online business, and so focused on the glamour side of online business that’s promised by all the ‘six-figure gurus’ and ‘grow your business in 30 days experts’ that she couldn’t focus on her own talents and see how she could truly bring value to the market.

Over the six month period that we worked on nailing down the who and how that she served clients, and moved on to branding and content strategy (all before touching website design) she changed her angle, her business model and her signature services no fewer than three times.

She was so focused on trying to find that million dollar formula that she didn’t stop and take the time to do two very important things:

  1. She didn’t spend the time looking at what she could offer customers that she was knowledgeable in, would serve a need in the marketplace, and that she’d truly enjoy doing.
  2. The second thing she did was allow the constant barrage of ‘Magic Formula‘ web chatter drive her business decisions. She’d take part in a webinar masterclass, then decide she needed to copy what she just saw for her own business.

What was happening was she wasn’t allowing herself the time to do anything because she was spending all her time trying all the things in hopes that the magic formulas would work and she’d be an overnight success.

By the time her branding was developed and website was built (and all the content was changed not once, but twice) she launched. Within a week she was changing things up, taking out content, and adding new signature programs that were completely off brand and message.

Over the next four months her site had morphed into a discombobulated mess and she looked lost. She came back eager to tackle another website based on her new direction, but the reality was that she didn’t need a new website. She needed patience, time and the permission from herself to slow down and do some deep soul searching. Another gorgeous, shiny new website wasn’t cheapest place to buy cymbalta going to make her business a success. Getting clear on her brand was, and until she could do that, nothing would feel right or help grow her business. She was mistaking her website for her brand, and banking on finding that magic online formula that would do all the work for her. 

She’s not alone. It’s all to easy to fall into this exact same trap in today’s online business environment – after all it’s called online business for a reason. But jumping the gun and then having to back track is not only costing entrepreneurs a fortune in terms of dollars, it’s costing a fortune in time and effort, credibility and clients.

It’s natural to change things up in your business – a business is like a living breathing thing. But it takes time to grow and just like you can’t force a baby to grow into an adolescent over night, your business needs time to grow and develop according to your talents, your clients needs, and ultimately what you do best that makes you and your customers happy.

When you spend all your time picking at it instead of allowing it to grow you’re not doing yourself, your business or your brand justice; and the reality is that in the long run, your business will grow faster and more steadily if you take your time and focus on getting it right from the start, rather than trying every shortcut to get to the top.

When you’re building a business online it’s so easy to think that having a website is good enough when it comes to a brand.  But nothing could be further from the truth. 

A brand that you can be  proud of is so much more than a logo, a colour palete, or a sexy squeeze page – your brand is made up of all the parts of your business – who you are, what you do, who you do it for, and how you serve your customers.  But it’s also made up of people’s perceptions, and customer experience.  Building a brand starts with taking the time to figure out who you serve, how you do it and why you’re better than anyone else at what you do before you get started on a website.  You want to build a brand that people will know, like and trust, and to do that you have to be authentic to yourself and your business.  The first step in getting that right is to slow down and look at what you do that you love, and how you can share that with the people who need it.  From there, the rest comes naturally.

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