THE BLOG
10/16/2013 12:30 pm ET Updated Dec 16, 2013

Should You Be the Face of Your Small Business?

Personal branding is a key to becoming known as an expert in your niche market, but sometimes you may feel like you might not want to have your face all over your small business website. A loyal reader wondered whether race would hold her business back if she became the "face" of her business. As a black woman, she was conflicted by advice received from associates to create a "colorless" business in order to build out her client base, which she focused on securing through internet marketing. One mentor even instructed this business owner to use a photo of a white woman on her website, instead of her own face. She asked me if I had ever been concerned about clients knowing that I was a black woman owned business. So I thought that I should answer the question, "Who should be the face of your small business?"

Honestly, I have never considered this an issue in my business. From the early years in 1999, when I started Quintessence Multimedia, my marketing consulting firm, I have always been the face of my company. My professional bio added so much credibility to the business it would never have made sense to not leverage it. Since I branded myself as a small business expert in 2007 as SmallBizLady, I also have never thought twice about the role race played in my business or clients utilizing my service. My articles don't focus on being a successful black woman in business; they pinpoint how to become successful in business, period. The fact that I am African-American isn't relevant to my brand. The resources I share are what are necessary to help my readers to start and run profitable and sustainable small businesses.

90 percent of small business success is confidence. You should never hesitate to be who you are. You should look in the mirror and say I'm a successful business owner every day, until you no longer need to say it. When I started giving small business advice, I used to tell myself every day -- I'm America's #1 Small Business Expert -- to pump myself up -- and now it's true.

My advice is to focus on providing excellent service that solves a problem for your target customer. Use your real name and photo on your "about" page to remain authentic regardless of your race. You could have a business name that will help customers associate your brand to a business name that describes what you do for them. For example my virtual assistant named her company YourJobMyOffice. Look at how others in your field are branding their businesses. As long as your business service fixes your customer's pain points in a professional manner, on time and on budget, race will never be an issue.

Furthermore, your website is your #1 sales tool. Make sure your website is clear about your product or service and target customer, you should be able to attract customers regardless of race. Start posting satisfied customer video testimonials that spotlight your services.

Do you agree with my advice on who should be the face of your small business?

This article was originally published under the title Should I Focus on my Personal Brand or Brand my Company at www.succeedasyourownboss.com

Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady, is America's #1 small business expert. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business startup, business development and social media marketing to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. She writes a weekly column on social media for The New York Times. Forbes Magazine named her #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9 p.m. ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog Melinda is also the bestselling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works and the ebook: How To Become A Social Media Ninja; 101 Ways to Dominate Your Competition Online.

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