By Julie Avellino, Consulting Partner
In business and in life the phrase, “Start before you’re ready” is one that many entrepreneurs live by. By moving your concept forward before knowing exactly how you will execute, you are able to learn as you grow, remain agile and stay close to your ever-changing customer base to gain valuable insight.
But in one critical area working on-the-fly is not your friend: Branding. Branding your business requires thoughtful planning and a bold commitment to authenticity. While you may be able to move forward with your concept without knowing exactly how you are going to execute you cannot move forward successfully without knowing exactly what you are going to execute. Without clarity about the business you are creating, you will work very hard to end up nowhere or in an unrecognizable place where you never aimed to be.
You might be thinking, “Why do you need so much planning for something that is supposed to be authentic? Shouldn’t it just come naturally?”
It would be great if authenticity came easily. However, in reality, we rarely understand our own authentic values, motivations and fears. Most people think and behave in a manner that we believe we should instead of in a manner that reflects our core identities. As a result, when we bring a company to life, we put a lot of what we think it should be into its voice and persona and fail to spend enough time allowing it to be what we genuinely want it to be for ourselves and our customers.
So, how can a business prepare to be authentic from the get-go and still allow for growth and scalability? The answer lies within the development of a critical and immutable foundation that will support and guide you. From these concepts the rest of your business traits can grow. Developing this foundation can’t be done in a vacuum. It is an interactive process with you, your team, sometimes customers and an expert facilitator. At the end of the process you will have clarity about who you are now, the business you’d like to create, the values and areas of focus you will embrace to get there and how you are differentiated from the competition.