by Emily Suess

Personal branding isn’t just for the freelance designer or self-published author. As a small business owner with a company brand to build up, you still need to take time out to set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd by establishing a sort of personal trademark. What makes you unique also makes your business unique, so it’s worth whatever effort you put into it.

In fact, building your personal brand and company brand simultaneously can create a sort of feedback loop that magnifies your message. To brand yourself isn’t difficult if you exercise a little self-awareness. Start by following these steps.

Step 1: Identify your strengths.

Make a list of all the things you do well. Even if you don’t see a direct connection between a given talent and your role as a business owner, write it down. Odds are that who you are and what you like already heavily influences the type of business you own and the way you run it. So drawing upon these things as a source for your personal brand will naturally carry over well when it’s time to introduce your business.

Step 2: Identify your personal values.

The core values that help define you as a person make up a huge part of your personal brand. Your values and ethics reveal what matter most to you, and people — whether new acquaintances or longtime friends — who associate those ideals with you as an individual will extend that comparison to your business. The more closely you adhere to these values when making personal and professional decisions, the stronger your brand will be.

Step 3: Keep searching for knowledge.

It’s not enough to establish your expertise, you have to maintain it. There’s always something more to learn about your profession, about your hobbies, and about your industry or niche. You should be well-read and eager to investigate new technology and trends. The alternative is let your personal brand become stagnate and irrelevant.

Step 4: Teach.

You may not see yourself as a teacher, but one of the best ways to bolster your reputation as an expert is to share the knowledge you’ve gained with others. You can run an online webinar, create a free tutorial, or mentor new business owners — it really doesn’t matter how you do it. When you as an individual are a trusted source of knowledge, your business is more likely to be trusted by new clients to solve problems.

Step 5: Don’t be afraid to take a chance.

It’s hard to build a brand by being just like everyone else, so dare to do things a little differently. Even if things don’t turn out like you want, you have the opportunity to use that experience to teach others. And, as we’ve already discussed, that’s an integral part of brand building.

Your personal brand extends way beyond your headshot and resume. Your personal brand is synonymous with your reputation, and an outstanding reputation can give you a distinct advantage over the competition.