One afternoon earlier this year, as I was on my way home from a client appointment, my cell phone rang. My daughter was on the other end and she was in tears. Cecilia worked as an aesthetician at a spa/salon and had started a side business as a makeup artist for weddings and special events. The spa discovered her business Facebook page and issued an ultimatum: close your business and stay with the spa or pursue her business but lose her job. Mind you, she wasn’t taking any business away from the spa. She focuses on brides who want their makeup done on location, a service the spa did not provide.
She wanted to keep building her business but was afraid to lose the guaranteed income that comes with being an employee. I told her to let the spa job go and take a chance with her own business. Cecilia is not unaware of the ups and downs, fears and joys that come with an entrepreneur life. Both her dad and I currently have or have had our own businesses down through the years. She has seen us succeed and she has seen us fall on our faces. After some thought and conversation, she dried her tears, gathered her gumption and embarked on her entrepreneur adventure—and she has never looked back.
Cecilia's initial goal was to book 12 brides. Since she launched, she has not only exceeded that goal but her makeup artistry has appeared on the cover of Milwaukee magazine, fashion runways and the faces of beautiful brides for whom she has created wonderful, timeless looks. She was a featured artist at the RAW show at the Rave last Wednesday. Yes, I am her biased mom, but I’m super proud of this girl, her bravery and her successes!
Sometimes, life takes you places you don’t expect to go. As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to acknowledge your fear, pull on your big girl (or big boy) pants and take a chance. Are you a looking for a makeup artist? Check out Aesthetics by Cecilia for more information!
What is freedom for you? For me, freedom is having the opportunity to be an entrepreneur and pursuing the things about which I am passionate. How can fear of the unknown, those ups and downs that all entrepreneurs experience still translate into a feeling of freedom?
Bravery and freedom are not an absence of fear. As an entrepreneur, I have plenty of fear. There are definitely things that keep me up at night. I know I will make mistakes. I know I may have days, weeks, months when I wonder how I will pay the bills. I know there will be mornings when I'm thinking what in the heck did I get myself into! I know some days will be an uphill battle to keep moving forward. I know I will experience small failures and I know there is a risk of completely failing. But, I accept those risks not because I am without fear, but because I am free to work at something I am passionate about. I am free to make and learn from those mistakes and failures. And I'm free to taste and enjoy my successes.
Entrepreneurship takes us down some scary, bumpy paths and we may have days when we want to throw in the proverbial towel. But we don’t because we know that with hard work, a little bit of luck, some flops and all that learning, we are building something we love and we crave the freedom building our businesses gives us. Again, I ask you, what is freedom for you?
By Robyn Adair; istockphoto.com photo
We’ve talked about the brand promise
being part of the brand definition. But there is more to a brand than the promise. What are brand perceptions and expectations and how do they define a brand?
Brands are built by consumers. How your customers perceive your brand is what defines that brand. Once your customer has a certain perception about your brand, they will have certain exceptions from your brand. If your brand doesn’t meet those expectations during every interaction, you will confuse and alienate the very people to whom you are trying to appeal. Your now ex-customer will turn to another product or service that fulfills their perceptions and expectations.
To illustrate this idea of perceptions and expectations, let’s take a look at Dove’s recent social media mishap. Dove’s brand promise is “helping all women realize their true beauty potential.” Their Real Beauty campaign was a solid success when the company initially implemented it. The campaign celebrated all women: all ages, body types, skin color. We perceived Dove as a brand that was for all women; it was a confidence boost, a statement that we all have worth, that we are all included. We expected future campaigns would continue to promote that inclusiveness.
However, a recent social media ad showed that even big brands can screw up in a big way. The beginning of the clip asked if we were ready to get clean and goes on to show an African American woman removing her dark t-shirt and then morphs into a white woman in a lighter t-shirt. The perception is, well… you get the perception. The ad falls well short of consumers’ perceptions and expectations of the Dove brand. The ad was quickly removed amid a large outcry from consumers and Dove later apologized for their tone-deafness. And I sincerely doubt a racist ad was their intention. This is a great illustration, though, of how consumers’ perceptions and expectations can shape a brand.
Think about your brand. How is it perceived? What expectations do your customers/clients have of that brand? Does your brand meet those expectations every time?
According to the SHRM Foundation, 35% of those in the US labor force will be 50 or older by 2022. Approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day. What does this mean? We have an aging workforce. And this workforce has experience and knowledge businesses should be utilizing and exploring. The SHRM Foundation offers these aging workforce strategy goals: 1) keep your older workers as long as possible and keep them engaged; 2) If they are retiring, have them help pass their knowledge on to younger workers; 3) Take advantage of their skills after their retire through consulting or part-time employment; and 4) Recruit older talent. Just because potential recruits are of a “certain age” doesn’t mean they do not have the chops for the job! To learn more, check out the SHRM Foundation.
What is a brand promise? It is the emotional tie from your clients’ and prospects’ perceptions of your product or service to the actual product or service. Disney’s brand promise is “magical experiences abound.” Dove’s brand promise is “helping all women realize their personal beauty potential.” Subaru’s is one word and simple: “love.” What is the common denominator? All three appeal to emotion. As much as we would all like to believe we approach purchase rationally and with common sense, the fact is we are swayed by our emotions. It’s what makes us human! So when we see the commercial about the aging process of the beloved family dog—and we are dog lovers—it affects our emotions and potentially our wallets when we buy that particular brand of dog food. When we see a print ad and see someone who looks like us, it affects our emotions and, again, potentially our wallets when we buy that particular brand of soap or moisturizer. Take a look at your brand. What is your brand promise? Even if your product is light bulbs, you have a brand promise. Your clients and prospects have experience with light bulbs, others and yours. What is that emotional tie? Just a reminder, if you are attending the Wisconsin State SHRM conference, I will be speaking about brand promises and branding your wellness program for success on October 12 at 6:30 a.m. Sensia will also have a booth there and I’d love to meet you!
Commercial & editorial lifestyle & travel photographer, educator, competitive cyclist, track/cross country coach