The first step to launching a successful business is to take a deep, hard look in the mirror. Unearthing your real self is the first step to creating a business as amazing as you are.
If you can't immediately point to any one skill, talent or way of thinking that really sets you apart, don't despair. Everybody has a little bit of self-discovery to do before they can realize where their treasure lies. It takes some thought, some leaps of faith, some unflinching honesty and some sustained effort to figure out what you're good at, what you're not cut out for, where your true talents lie and what will make you truly happy in the long-term.
Figuring out where your personal and professional destinies lie involves a lot of trial and error and will evolve, over time, as you delve deeper and deeper into your adventure. In the book Fairy-Tail Success: A Guide to Entrepreneurial Magic, we encourage you to write down a series of answers to questions about yourself, including:
What do you care about?
What are you willing to stand up for?
When are you the happiest?
What types of people are you drawn to?
What can you absolutely not tolerate?
These questions can help you pinpoint specific areas that you are passionate about. Passion leads to motivation, which leads to dedication and success.
One of the best ways to start to develop the self-awareness you will need to become a CEO is to figure out what you really enjoy doing, being and sharing. What kinds of people, places and activities make you happy? Spend time thinking hard about those questions and writing down your answers. Discover the passion that will drive your business.
Once you have a firm handle on what you like to do, what is important to you and what you want yourself and your business to stand for, it's time to capture everything you have learned about yourself into a "brand signature." A brand signature is the unmistakable stamp that you put on every single piece of content, product, promotion or service that your business generates. You don't even have to know exactly what your business is yet -- this signature will live with your work no matter which direction it takes. Your brand signature should include all of the qualities that you have identified as being of vital importance to you. A brand signature isn't just about what you make or sell, but how you make it, how you sell it, and what you do with the money you generate.
Developing a brand signature means figuring out what, specifically, you are good at, what you want to provide or produce, as well as what you stand for, what you want to devote your time, love and attention to, and what you wish to say to the world. Your brand signature should be concise and precise, and you should be able to articulate it in very few words, and then shout it everywhere you can, in thought, word and deed. Be consistent! Brand consistency is everything at the beginning of a great venture and an authentic, well-thought-out and consistently executed brand signature is the first step toward brand success.
If, for example, you feel strongly about the environment, your brand signature should always include eco-friendly practices, methods and materials that support this aspect of your vision.
Chances are that if you are thinking about launching your business, you've thought somewhat about these issues. Do yourself a favor and before taking another step, focus on developing your personal identity. Indulge your curiosities.
Realize that your path to success won't be straight: Venture off the beaten path, and don't be afraid to explore something different. Most importantly, build your foundation with your brand signature: Be consistent, be precise and be true to yourself! Only then should you even contemplate the next big step -- writing your business plan.