A five-point roadmap for growing your brand while still running your business

KLOWTIFY Insights Team

Few entrepreneurs would argue that building a brand and then the ongoing brand management that follows is a TON of work. And for anyone trying to stand up a business on their own or with another partner, the work in need of doing is endless. How does one prioritize brand work, when sales calls, cashflow cliffs, supplier delays — everything else — is nipping at your heels?

Like with any other good habit, you have to build brand management into your daily routine. To make real progress on a goal, one must intentionally carve out time to gain ground. Abstract thinking such as ‘tomorrow I will put in some time’ is not enough to keep you accountable. To execute a consistent and meaningful brand development plan, a next touchpoint must be baked into your daily DNA.

But before you add a daily line item for brand work, you might want to take a second to define ‘work’ as it applies to you and your role in the business — and let’s be honest, you are likely filling many or all roles as you stand your operation up. Even if you’ve hired a team, you still need to prioritize regular brand tasks. As your company grows, the tasks an entrepreneur is personally responsible for evolve, and become ever more important.

Maybe you started out creating business profiles, posting on social feeds, designing a logo, building a website. That’s all critical work. But the buck can’t stop there. It’s time to turn those profiles into brand channels, populated with meaningful content; and to forge a defined and actionable path to achieving ongoing brand success.

What channels are you currently utilizing? How consistently or frequently? What is the depth and scope of your channel activity? Are you posting and forgetting; or are you engaging with comments and systematically growing your network? What channels are your customers using that need developing? Are specific channels tailored to targeted purposes and audiences? How engaging is your content (be honest!)? What ideas do you have for increasing interest, actionability, freshness, novelty? How can you grow channel traffic organically, and how do you convert traffic to network audience? How do you convert audience to revenue?

In action: Create a four column chart and list everything you’re currently doing in column one. In the second column, make notes next to each item evaluating the efficacy, consistency, and next steps for leveling up each of the brand tasks you’re currently engaging in. For column three, list all the things you could be doing — where you see your brand by the end of the year, in five years, if you had a full-time communications staffer (or team) to completely manage and execute your full wishlist. In column four, note what you would need to get there and realistically, how soon you might embark.

As an entrepreneur, your own capabilities and interests are key to success. Just because it’s determined that the brand needs this particular thing does not mean you personally will enjoy or succeed at delivering it. This is a tough conundrum for a bootstrapping business owner. If cash is tight, you either do it yourself or you forego. But what if, with a tighter grip on time management, you could get a lot more distance out of your day? Remember, you don’t have to do or be everything that is possible. But you do want to make sure that there is a range (if you only have time to manage two channels, don’t make them both social platforms) and flexibility (if you only have 10 minutes per day, it’s okay to group that time over the week and add a 50 minute block to the calendar to accomplish a longer or larger task). And, think about what it means to run your specific business.

In action: What do you like to do? What are you good at or knowledgeable about? Where are your greatest efficiencies or shortcomings? Once you’ve decided where you stand, you can begin aligning your list of brand priorities with your own action plan.

These should be both short and long term, and they should mold around your bandwidth, right now and futurestate. Being realistic is about identifying how much time you have each day for the brand slice of the priority pie; but it is also about understanding the actual time demands of brand tasks against your own capabilities.

In action: Create a timeline. Where are you now and where do you want to be by each hash mark? Think of these as gates. It helps you build incrementally toward that one- or five-year plan. Entries above the line you plan to execute yourself. Entries below the line you will need to contract out or build into a position you hire for.

Now it’s time to put all that brainstorming into action. Decide how much time you can feasibly dedicate to brand tasks each day. Sum up your reflection activities into a clear, concise and linear communication of what you plan to accomplish and how you will achieve the desired outcomes.

In action: Don’t bite off more than you can chew — overwhelming yourself will be a sure death to any initiative. Instead, take the first couple of tasks on your growth timeline and break them down into steps, a line item for each of the stop lights between start and finish. Create a brand diary (a spreadsheet or document will suffice) where you list the task and the goal completion date plus each step. Breaking the bigger goal down into daily bite-sized chunks and documenting your progress will help keep you on track.

Every day, you start work by… what? Checking your email? Viewing a logistics dashboard? Calling suppliers? Take stock of your existing work habits; then decide where this new block fits in. Choose a time slot that you know will beget commitment. If your day starts with a cup of coffee and email responses, wisely build brand stuff in right after, while you’re still in computer mode. If you try to add it after golf with clients, failure is imminent.

In action: Add a specific recurring block invite to your calendar. This is sacred goal-accomplishing time. Set a timer if necessary. Send yourself a scheduled email reminder at the dedicated time each day. Create a daily checklist with brand time incorporated. Reward yourself, like you would for hitting the gym, with a break or something enjoyable afterward. One or all of these intentional failsafes will keep your eye on the prize.

In reality, we know that brand tasks must fall in line under revenue activities. But the time you can dedicate to brand development should be supporting and bolstering the business. Maybe today you are copywriting and executing Twitter posts, but next you might graduate to blogging or even professionally crafted thought leadership columns or speaking engagements. All it takes is a mindful plan and dedicated execution.