The Maverick Leader: The Business Owner, is one of my favourite people to work with. Why? Because they work for the greater good, envisaging a future not quite here yet!
I have been working with this particular breed of business owner since 2005 – enjoying the collaboration and challenge that comes with working with novel ideas and demanding personalities. One of the great things for me, is that when I work with these individuals, they demand that I’m at the top of my game, enabling them to be the top of theirs. It’s a collaboration, two people fighting for the success of the client’s business … and having a great deal of fun doing so.
If you want to see how, you can take a look at some of the things that I do with SME and freelancers by clicking below. Then read on to see how a business owner and freelancer can demonstrate Maverick Leadership.
How does a Business Owner demonstrate Maverick Leadership?
That’s a great question. When people talk about leadership they are usually referring to the individual at work. It’s not an automatic consideration to think about the business owner. Entrepreneur maybe, but not those that run single businesses or are freelancers.
How can the business owner or freelancer lead their business?
Maverick DRIVEN Leadership™ is a marriage of what you do and who you are. Therefore, it’s applicable for everyone, the individual, business owner and the executive. Anyone can be a Maverick Leader. Even the business owner. They just do it differently.
The Maverick Leader: The Business Owner – a story of two parts
Part 1 – Building reputation and credibility
It’s important that the Business Owner and the freelancer understand that there are two identities that need to be built and maintained. Their personal reputation and their business’ one. (Remember reputation includes your business’ and your own personal characteristics and your competence). Both identities will have different, although related business propositions.
First things first. What is your proposition? What is it that you do? Most people spend a long time here, crafting an excellent marketing message. Then they believe they are done.
They are not. I always take my clients back to first principles. There is no point in having an excellent marketing byline if you (the business owner or freelancer) is unable to articulate what this message means and why it’s important – to you or your client base.
One of the first things that you will need to consider is how to build reputation and credibility so your clients are comfortable buying from you.
The Maverick Leader: The Business Owner
Building reputation and credibility for your business
In this day and age it is becoming increasingly important to be able to distinguish yourself from your competition so that you become the ‘no brainer’ choice in your chosen market. Whilst there are many factors that can distinguish you from everyone else, the deciding factor seems to be the strength of your reputation and credibility in relation to your competition. This is especially true for smaller businesses and ‘one man bands’ in over populated niches.
Brand reputation is becoming the ultimate decision maker and to ignore this trend will put your business and earning capacity in peril.
If we agree with the premise that potential clients will only buy high ticket value services from those that they trust, it becomes imperative that businesses consider how to develop, nurture and maintain that trust. The next consideration is to decide how to do this in the most cost effective way for their business.
This may mean foregoing expensive marketing activity that only increases the business’ visibility but does nothing to lessen the risk of hiring the company. This ‘risk’ perceived or otherwise, is continuously assessed by potential clients prior to them making the decision to hire you. The oft quoted maxim of ‘the client needs to be ‘touched’ by you 7 times before they buy’ is derived from this premise.
Lessening the risk of a client hiring you is especially important if the business has decided to use ‘pull’ rather than ‘push’ marketing as a strategy for their business. For example, ‘push’ marketing is where the business advertises its services to its target audience, unsure of whether they are looking for their expertise. ‘Pull’ marketing is where the potential client ‘pulls’ your services when he needs it – without specific advertisement. He might decide to use your service based on a referral from an advocate of yours. This means advertising spend has not been made to secure this client.
Those that rely on referrals or social networking to secure work will realise that the most cost effective way to gain new clients is to use ‘pull’ marketing techniques to gain business.
First things first
Before building your reputation in your chosen niche you need to first understand your current position. An audit of your situation should reveal (amongst other things) your standing in relation to your competitors, whether your reputation is earning you enough referrals and whether your business message is coherent across all your markets. It’s important to ensure that your current business strategy (including networking strategy) is consistent with the reputation that you have and are building.
Reputation is personal in its nature, concerning itself with the character of the business (or person) and the intention of its (their) actions. It is essential that you are consistent with what you say and do, especially on the internet where everything that is recorded there is of a permanent nature.
Inconsistency can be the biggest killer of reputation because it undermines the trust that is being established between the two parties.
Credibility needs to be demonstrated and is based on your track record and competency. One of the ways to establish credibility is to ensure that your expertise and integrity is demonstrated regularly and effectively. This can be done by providing expert opinion, a positive and strong personal brand, social proofing and having a strong trust account. This allows potential clients to sample your expertise enabling them to advocate your services or hire your business.
If your business (and/or yourself) has a good reputation and credibility it is more likely to be trusted by your potential clients, therefore increasing your revenue and sustainability. A trust account balance reflects the amount of trust in the relationship at any given time. In any one relationship there are two accounts. How we perceive a trusted relationship – say one with a client, may not be the same as they see it. It would be wise to try and understand the balance that is held in each account.
Maverick Leadership requires you to be able to influence others. Influence isn’t possible if you are not trusted and your reputation and credibility does not stand up to scrutiny. It is imperative that you have a proposition that not only sounds good – but is aligned to your goals and passion. Your proposition needs to be deeper than a marketing line.
It is the foundation block of gaining new clients – and my clients spend a significant time on this, ensuring that they get it right. Once you know your why, your client archetypes, what you actually do, it’s time to ensure you can narrate it properly. Of course there are many other things that relate to reputation and credibility – but if you can get this part right (and many don’t) you are on your way!
Part 2, which we will explore another time, will look at what we do with this knowledge. How do you demonstrate your Maverick Leadership?
With the COVID-19 still impacting most industries, you need to ensure that you focus your energies on delivering a consistent and compelling reason for clients to work with you and a well defined business strategy will help you to achieve this for very little cash outlay. It is a solid, credible reputation (not just increased visibility) that will carry you and business out of the crunch and beyond.
So, look at the way your brand is seen by others and ask yourself … based on the information available about me, would I hire me?