When you are the CEO, marketing director, secretary, salesman and janitor of your own one-person business, it's difficult to tell where your personal brand ends and your business brand begins. But the good news is that there can be some overlap—all the effort that goes into marketing your business can promote yourself as a professional, too.
The Key is Definition
What defines you? What defines your business? If you offer a service, your business and personal brand may have more overlap; if you sell a product, there may be fewer similarities between the two. Sit down with two sheets of paper and draw a line through the middle of each of them. Use one sheet for yourself and one sheet for your business. In one column, identify the traits that are currently associated with your brands. In the other column, jot down the traits you would like people to connect to your brands.
Once you've identified a few of your existing traits and some traits you set as goals for the future, define the areas where overlap would be beneficial and the ones where clear boundaries are a must. If your potential clients value organization, by all means show what a multi-tasker you are by connecting your name with the variety of responsibilities you manage as a solopreneur. If your clients need strict technical accuracy, you may want to keep your bubbly personality as a personal brand and not a business one.
With clear goals and boundaries in mind, it's time to promote both yourself and your business. Use the Internet and social media sites to establish your qualities. Build a personal portfolio and a business portfolio. Build a print marketing campaign. Whatever way you approach it, make sure you are consistent and the two brands stay separate where needed.
As a solopreneur, don't forget that a personal brand can be just as valuable as a business brand. As a freelance writer, some of the gigs I apply for use a business proposal and bid, while other times I'm sending a cover letter and resume. Even within my business, I've improved by adding a professional image of myself to my website and profiles on bidding sites, along with my title as owner. And the opposite holds true too; including on my resume my experience running my own business has proven beneficial as well.
Solopreneurs can often get caught up in running a business single-handedly and forget that they have a personal brand they can use to their advantage, too. Define both your personal brand and business brand, and then identify where overlap is beneficial and where clear boundaries are a must. Happy branding!