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5 Ways to Grow Your Brand

5 Ways to Grow Your Brand

In a world filled with Kickstarter’s, start-ups, and various other “self-made” mediums – it can be difficult to find your way ahead of the pack. We live in a generation of entrepreneurs. Thanks to the internet, the world is experiencing a myriad of thriving independents, who’ve discovered a way to make a living, solely off of their ingenuity and hard work.

We jealously applaud their achievement, while we wonder “how they made it”. In this list, I’ll provide you with some of the key things that those successful people knew and applied to their strategy – that led them to success. With these tools, you will be able to grow your brand and be on that path as well.

1. Utilize Free Resources

One of the more obvious things that you should be privy to, is the mass amount of free resources out there. These resources can help you to establish your brand on several platforms. No matter what your service, skill, product, etc. is – your first and foremost concern should be to translate that into these mediums. These include (but are not limited to) – blog sites, podcasting sites, Youtube, and of course any of the social media sites, (but we’ll get to that later) .

All of these are generally free – unless you opt for advanced memberships. By taking advantage of multiple platforms, you expand your message to a broader audience who may not have been reachable otherwise. When you translate your message to these free resources you not only expand your potential clientele but infinitely grow your opportunities to prove to the consumer why your (insert business here) should be experienced.

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An added bonus to this is that the more landscape you cover, the more legitimate your business appears. It should go without saying that this method drastically improves your chances of success by expanding your virtual visibility. Did I mention that it’s free?

2. Take Advantage of Trending

Some would call it being a culture vulture, however, those in tune with their inner entrepreneur, understand it simply as masterful marketing. Now, by no means am I saying that you should lie to, or mislead your potential consumer, (click-baiting is a sure way to a speedy demise), but you should make every reasonable attempt to fit what you’re selling into what’s selling, (via Search Engine Optimization, tagging, etc.).

For example, if you’re a podcaster whose topics specifically cover finance or business, you should be researching things and events that can potentially (if loosely) coincide with those mediums; ergo: new technology, blockbuster movies, popular investments, etc. Your primary focus should be in making a viable and meaningful connection.

By learning to fit your skill into popular trends you will not only increase your audience but will be able to provide deeper insight beneath what is commonly known, (or at the very least provide a supplement to it). Though not everyone will be interested in your take – you will attract and keep those who are. This will build a following and sure-fire followers, who will read, discuss, and (most importantly) share your view on the topic at hand.

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This tactic works across the board -whether you: cook, clean, entertain, inform, etc. Though not everything will be relevant – your job is to keep an eye out for what can be. Just remember to keep it honest and not to pander. It’s up to you to provide a level of integrity to your brand. Be willing to do the work, or don’t do it at all.

3. Sell Yourself (Social Media)

We live in the age of transparency, very dissimilar to the “cloak and dagger” generation that preceded us. Though secrecy was the creed of the past – with the advent of technology – we now live in a world where this only leads to distrust and eventual loss of interest. Don’t let this discourage you because chances are, you’ve already transcended this social phenomenon.

Social media is undeniably one of, (if not) the most imperative asset that we all have. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. If you don’t know what any of these are, I suggest you stop reading now and go on a Google binge. These outlets not only provide a direct link to your potential consumer but also provides a way for them to get to you. It is because of this that it is important to sell yourself.

If you’re funny – be funny. If you’re direct – be direct. If you’re a tomato – be a tomato. The point here is, to not to put on a facade. Remember, we live in the age of transparency, because of this the consumer can smell a fraud a mile away. So be yourself. Not everyone will like you, but those who do will be infinitely grateful and much more likely to return to and recommend whatever it is that you are providing them. Being you is free, and the only truly infinite resource at your disposal. Take advantage of it.

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4. Consistency

Bearing the previous in mind, it is also important to be consistent. If you make a promise – keep it. If you offer something – deliver on it. Never attempt to give more of yourself than you actually can. Many people enjoy taking on the challenge of pushing themselves beyond their known limits. Though this trait is admirable in many fields, selling your brand is not one of them.

Keep the old saying in mind: “It takes years to build a reputation, and only seconds to destroy it”.

The consumer is fickle. This isn’t to say that mistakes don’t happen. However, you should be adept at limiting them, or avoiding them all together. This isn’t necessarily a “fair’ standard, but with the mass amount of competition out there, it’s the only way the consumer knows how to separate the worthwhile, from the worthless. Set a standard, stay there, or raise it. Any other direction will be detrimental to the growth of your brand.

5. Quality over Quantity

Despite everything I’ve just said, one of the more somber rules to keep in mind is to never stretch yourself beyond what you can do. If you can’t handle a blog and a podcast, just do one or the other. If having an Instagram and a Twitter is too intimidating, again, pick one. The problem that many businesses (especially self-starters) have is their need to over commit. Though this will expand your exposure, once the quality of your service begins to wane, this will only hurt your brand.

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Know your limits, and expand accordingly. If you feel you’ve hit your productive limit – stop there. It is at this point that you should seriously consider either monetizing to afford hired help or seeking out volunteers to assist you, so that you can transition forward smoothly. Remember, quality over quantity. It’s always better to have a pound of gold than hundred pounds of dirt.

Conclusion

With strategy, patience, a little bit of luck, and a lot of hard work any of us can grow our brand to its’ peak potential and watch it flourish. All that’s truly required of us, is the commitment to make it happen and see it through. In this business chisel beats hammer. Give it time, give it care, give it love – in return it will provide you with a level of satisfaction solely reserved for the ones who’ve earned it. See you in the winner’s circle.

Featured photo credit: duco_events via flickr.com

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Antwan Crump

Novelist, blogger, essayist, podcaster.

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Last Updated on December 5, 2018

How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

Being an efficient manager and a charismatic boss at the same time can seem like an impossible task. Is there a way to deliver the desired results for your business while remaining liked and respected by your staff?

We all know bad examples of team leaders who seem to fail at one aspect or the other, or even at both. But we’ve also heard of awesome managers who seem to juggle both things well enough.

How do they do it?

By sticking to few proven ways that let them maintain a positive karma score while remaining efficient. In this article, we’ll guide you through 11 smart management tips on how to lead a team and become something more than a boss – a leader.

1. Find a Management Strategy and Stick to It

There’s nothing worse than a boss that keeps changing his or her opinions and assignments depending on their mood or a book they read this week. Chaotic decisions increase the insecurity and frustration of your team, so you better find your strategy and stick to it.

If you do find some new methods you want your staff to follow, make sure they don’t contradict the general direction you are taking. Otherwise, you risk making your team take one step forward and two steps back.

2. Set Goals​ and Track Progress in Reaching Them

Set individual and collective goals​ for your team and track the progress in reaching them. This might sound obvious at first, but too often we find ourselves stuck between daily customer requests and monthly reports, and the bigger goal or vision seems to fade away.

According to Elon Musk (and many other successful CEOs around the Globe), it’s crucial to have a clear and motivating aim to where the company is heading. His aim for the space transportation company SpaceX is “to make humankind a multi-planetary species”.[1] That’s a huge goal but the company is slowly moving closer to it by reaching smaller steps and milestones, like launching self-landing rockets. This is also a very inspiring and meaningful goal that helps employees endure the company’s extremely high expectations and 60 to 70-hour work weeks.[2]

Even if your goals are not as grand, setting and reaching milestones will give you a clear insight into the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress. With time, you will be able to see the weak spots and improve your results.​

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3. Demand Learning from Your Team

CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, believes that:[3]

“The key for a company going through rapid growth is to empower your employees’ self-development.”

His company with 500 employees spanning two continents demands a culture of learning and provides all the tools necessary to do it.

Their idea is –  as the company scales, people have to grow in their positions too, which means that they have to be constantly learning. Siksnans says:

“We try to hire people for what they might become, but they need to have that drive.“

Alternatively, you can provide educational courses for your employees or invite informal lecturers to educate and inspire your team. You can also encourage peer-to-peer learning by asking employees to teach their particular experience or skill to co-workers.

4. Invest in a Pleasant Work Environment

Studies show that a well-designed office environment can increase your team’s overall performance by as much as 20%. You’ll be surprised to see that even very small interior tweaks that don’t require major investments can improve your workers’ performance.

Some ideas for a more productive and pleasing work environment:

  • Invest in modern furniture – offer ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and individually arranged workplaces​.
  • Start an in-house library – reading for pleasure just 30 minutes a day is proven to be enough to become more effective at work,[4] improve focus, and deal with problems like depression and anxiety.​
  • Play jazzy office music – rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic while doing everyday tasks.​
  • Set up entertainment or break rooms – being able to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees relax and clear their minds, and boosts productivity.​
  • Bring in uplifting office decor – it’s been found that art in the workplace can boost productivity,[5] lower stress, and even encourage employees to innovate.​
  • Decorate the office with live plants for freshness and a welcoming feel. Furthermore, plants are found to ensure better air quality and increase workers’ productivity by 15%.[6]

5. Be Kind and Sincere to Your Team

Did you know that 50% of employees quit because they dislike working with their manager?[7] In fact, most times when people leave their jobs they actually leave their managers. Being friendly and sincere may not be enough to be a successful manager, but it’s a big part of it.

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Some ways to show you appreciate and care for your staff:

  • Celebrate the progress and achievements of your employees. And don’t be shy to simply say thanks.​
  • Talk to your employees regularly and really listen to what they have to say. Address their concerns, help them reach their goals and do your best to improve their work and daily life.
  • If you’re having a bad day, don’t pour out your stress and anger on the staff. Instead, try to recharge yourself by appreciating the achievements of your team and setting the next goals.
  • Try not to overload your team with work. Every company has rush periods when it’s okay to have more work than usual. But remember that people cannot work under prolonged pressure and stress.
  • Don’t be selfish – it can be very demotivating to see that the manager only focuses on what you can do for him and doesn’t care about your goals and well-being.​ As the CEO of Xerox Anne M. Mulcahy put it,[8]

    “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.”

Whenever you are having doubts about your kind attitude, remember – satisfied employees are productive employees which lead to satisfied customers and eventually – success for your company.

6. Offer Flexible Work Hours

The traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job is beginning to slip away. Increasingly more people are working remotely or having flexible work hours, and we can expect this trend to continue. To adapt to these changing habits and remain competitive in the labor market, more employers are offering the chance to choose your own work hours, work from home or even from another city or country.

Offering flexible hours is a powerful way to inspire your existing staff and give them intrinsic motivation. Why not let your employees choose their preferred working hours while keeping the 8-hour day? For example, night owls are unhappy and unproductive if they have to come to work before 10 AM, while others might prefer to start at 7 and finish earlier.

You can go even farther and hire remote workers – this way you’ll be able to recruit from a global talent pool and even save money on office expenses like desks, stationery, electricity, etc.[9]

7. Track Your Team’s Productive Time

Not monitoring your employees’ progress and efficiency can result in poor performance and slacking. Instead of letting things go with the flow, you should consider installing time-tracking software on your employees’ computers and see who’s doing great and who might need a productivity boost.

But don’t get it wrong – there’s no need to become big brother and watch every step your employees take. If you use the time-tracker as a spying tool, you will only see increasing suspicion and insecurity around you, and your employees’ happiness levels will drop.

On the contrary, choose software that allows employees to mark private time that won’t be tracked. In addition, consider these time-management tactics:

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  • Allow flexible work hours. (see Tip No 6)
  • Encourage breaks – studies show that employees who take regular breaks are more productive than those who don’t.[10]
  • Enable remote work to show your employees that you trust them and that they can work from home or even from another country (if they can maintain sufficient productivity).
  • Consider offering bonuses to your most productive employees (those who show productivity levels above 90 or 95%).

8. Use Only Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism means offering valid and rational opinions about the work of others, involving both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved. Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

When you evaluate your team’s work, give them feedback that’s helpful, specific, and sincere. Don’t be shy to praise, but also be direct and even strict when necessary.

9. Don’t Give Special Treatment to Yourself

The boss’s actions are – directly or indirectly – observed by your team. This means that your employees look up to you and often mimic your attitude towards your work and the company – especially if your actions don’t show commitment. Nobody wants to work for a leader who doesn’t go all in or inspire motivation.

What you should do is lead by example. If you expect your employees to arrive at work on time and work 8 hours, do the same yourself. If you want them to show initiative, show it yourself and encourage others to do the same.

Jeff Weiner is the CEO of LinkedIn – a company of 3,000 employees that consistently ranks as one of the best workplaces with a 92 percent employee-approval rating.[11] Weiner’s workdays are reported to be equally long or even longer than those of his employees, allowing him to stay “extremely credible as a leader.”

10. Empower Your Employees

Here’s a common mistake many managers make:

They don’t motivate their staff and assume they simply love to work for their company.​ Such belief can result in painful losses for the company – especially these days when many companies are in desperate need of a reliable workforce.

Instead of directly thinking about bonuses and perks, consider intrinsic motivation. For example, enable flat organization in your team and listen to your employees’ ideas when they come up with opinions and suggestions. Your company might actually benefit a great deal from the feedback, and the unique ideas employees come up with.

You can also start an initiative where employees can freely share or pitch their business ideas to you or the founders of the company. If the idea is accepted by the management, the project can be developed, and the employee can have equity options.

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If people feel they have an impact in the company, they become more motivated, engaged and interested in the company’s growth.

11. Nurture Your Company Culture

Company culture is the personality of a company that defines the overall work environment and relationships between teammates. It also includes company mission, values, ethics, and goals.

Some examples of company cultures are the Horizontal corporate culture (collaborative and equal; popular among startups and free-spirited businesses) and Conventional corporate culture (a more risk-averse and hierarchy-based approach common in traditional companies).

However, you don’t have to stick to pre-existing boxes when creating your corporate culture. You might think of your team as a family, a sports team, or even a hippie camp if it fits your business and purpose. But keep in mind that by the time a company’s size reaches 20 employees, the company culture is set,[12] and any changes will need to be implemented in smaller teams.

Whichever personality you choose for your company, make sure to live by it and nurture it. Some things that might help:

Team building events, relevant books in your office library and proper on-boarding for the new employees to get everyone on the same page from the very beginning.

Be a Leader, Not a Boss

Using the words of Printful’s CEO Davis Siksnans, the ultimate goal is to “Hire great people who don’t have to be managed.”

However, when you do need to demonstrate some initiative and control, act as a leader rather than as a boss.

In other words, don’t be afraid to show the personality behind your role. And keep these 11 tips close to your heart.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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