Starting a business can be extremely expensive and time consuming. The key to any great start is to minimize the amount of expenses on aspects of your business that could be done cheaper, or even for free.
I am always surprised when I talk with aspiring trainers, young fitness professionals, and entrepreneurs who have yet to fully maximize the tools that we have at our exposure. When I started J2FIT back in 2012, I didn't fully utilize the inexpensive and highly effective resources available to me.
These top strategies are exactly the ones I have used and/or are currently using to improve my brand awareness, increase my efficiency as a business owner and coach, and ultimately, increase my business and personal revenue!
1. Design Your Logo
It's so simple and so forgotten when people first start a business venture. The importance of a branded logo is that it allows your potential followers, advocates, and customers to associate with a living brand.
When I started J2FIT and TheBarbellCEO (I am actually in logo drafting stages now!), we reached out to friends and family that had the artistic abilities to come up with a logo concept that fit our brand's vision, voice, and personality. They drafted it up into a digital copy and we were on our way
2. Have Branded Social Media (Logo, Website, Voice)
Unless you have been living under a rock the past few years, it's no shocker social media is a key way to growing your brand and following. Brand awareness is the first and sometimes hardest aspect of launching your business.
SIDE NOTE: I want to however distinguish between "Branded Social Media" and posting selfies on your Instagram with a #celebritytrainer. When developing who you are as a brand, you should set up social media accounts that are strictly for posts that coincide with what your brand stands for. All other personal posts that conflict with your branding strategy should be on your personal accounts.
The exception is if you personally are your brand and you have made the decision to be the face of it. In that case, you need to make sure you aren't posting content that conflicts with what you want your brand to be viewed as, who your intended market will be, etc.
In the beginning, J2FIT was a lot about me and who I was. As J2FIT grew, we began to remove a lot of our personal content that didn't coincide with our training philosophies, intended audience, and brand vision. We made the decision to let J2FIT speak for itself, somewhat like a muscular brain child of the two founders.
3. Build Your Website
Having a website is free. It's a place that you can build a community of followers, develop lasting relationships, and provide a location that people can go to and be a part of your journey. If you are not on the web, you don't exist in 99% of the populations lives.
To build a fast, inexpensive, and clean website, you can go to Wordpress, SquareSpace, Blogger, or any other ones out there. I personally have used all three and each can do the trick.
4. Start a Blog
If you told me three years ago that my simple blog that documented my workouts, mental journals, and life struggles work lead me to making six figures, quitting my corporate job, starting a brand, and becoming a business owner; I would have started ANOTHER blog too (and I am here)!
Blogs are a great way to build "no strings" attached REAL relationships with people and businesses all over the globe. It is another way to provide great content to help others, build brand awareness, and leave a tangible takeaway for your followers.
5. Referrals/Word of Mouth
The easiest way to launch your brand and increase business almost immediate is to ask those individuals who you have already established a relationship with to spread the word!
When I started J2FIT, I was already seen as the resource for exercise and nutrition guidance to my family, close friends, Facebook audiences, and current clientele. When I finally established the brand, I immediately asked them to simply follow J2FIT and provide any feedback. Their excitement to support me was overwhelming, and extremely helpful for launching my brand.
It is easy to be afraid to ask for help, and I too felt a little spammy about asking them. When you have put in the work and have created a great beginning brand with a vision and voice, it will be much easier. Those around you will see your passion and mission, and will surely stand behind you!
6. Great Visual Design
I wish I knew about this great website years ago. It's free, awesome to use, and allows me to produce great visual content for branded videos, social media posts, website banners, Facebook ads, email marketing, blog posts, and even my wedding invitations!
Canva is a website that allows you to select layouts for all types of projects, upload your photos, add symbols and texts, and then download your designs as raw media files to be saved to your desktop or mobile device. Some layouts and features are $1 to use (most are actually FREE), however the inexpensive costs make this a go to way to provide visually appealing content to grow my brand.
8. Be Transparent and Genuine
This is something I have always done, and may be the biggest factor in why I have had some of the success that I have had.
People are able to smell bullshit from a mile away. If I was in it for the wrong reasons, my followers and customers would have immediately turned away. When you are transparent you show that you are human, make mistakes, and are aspiring to become better every day. Do you need to post every minute detail, no. You do need to be genuine, up-front, and an active role model and resource for your followers, advocates, and customers.
9. Be a Product of Your Own Design(s)
"People buy into a person before they by into the brand."
We are all human, and although you may not be the face of your brand, you need to represent it well. The relationship between you and your brand should be crystal clear to everyone around you.
For J2FIT and TheBarbellCEO, I need to be 100% my best. I need to LEAD an active, strong, and entrepreneurial lifestyle. I need to be a resource to those striving to become stronger, healthier, and more athletic. I need to show through my actions, my initiatives, and my lifestyle that I am committed to helping others grow their brands and attain a life and career they want.
10. Branded Apparel and Print
In today's technology driven world, you literally have great designers, screen printers, and custom apparel companies at your fingertips. Brand awareness and recognition is fundamental to growing your brand.
When starting out you may have little to no capital to get branded shirts and snapback hats (I say those two because that's what we did at J2FIT). I recommend starting extremely small with your options and numbers, even if that's and one color and only a order large enough for you and your team/clients. Once you have a select few individuals who are advocates of your brand wearing them, you will surely have a great ROI (return on investment) on your walking billboards.