The challenge of starting a business is that there is no set path to take you where you want to go. Unfortunately, this is one of the greatest obstacles that discourage many potential entrepreneurs from starting their businesses.
Mike L. Murphy didn’t intend to become an entrepreneur. Instead, he was inspired by the skills he acquired while working in one of the most competitive industries in the world to make this decision. He now makes it his mission to assist other entrepreneurs in leveraging their unique skills to start thriving businesses. Here is Mike’s story and his advice to budding entrepreneurs who are in dire need of direction.
In a competitive business, it isn’t easy to build a brand.
Mike worked as a visual effects specialist for almost 20 years on blockbuster movies. His diverse career included work on the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films, Fast and Furious and Iron Man.
He realized that even though he had a great resume that would open doors for him in Hollywood, Hollywood’s competitive nature meant that he still had to fight for every project that came to his direction. So, if he wants to be successful in the long term, he decided that he needed a different approach.
Mike states, “When working in Hollywood, branding was something I did not understand.” I assumed everyone would be familiar with the projects I worked on as well as my expertise. People only know what you say to them or what they can quickly Google. It would help if you spent time crafting your message and supporting it with credentials.
He found that new projects were easier to come up with when he focused on his personal brand. Then, he realized that he could use his branding skills to start a business.
He decided to launch an online filmmaking school that would allow him to use his skills and build his personal brand. The business was built on the lessons he had learned while working in Hollywood and brought in six figures of revenue its first year.
Mike says that you are only what you communicate. The first step is to improve the messaging that you use to present yourself and your company. He recommends asking yourself the following question: “What are your values and what are you prepared to sacrifice?” These are your brand values, and they are the key to defining who you are.
He also suggests that you should identify a unique characteristic about yourself that can form the foundation of your brand’s image. He asks: “What makes your brand unique and memorable?” Perhaps you were involved in a large project. People love to hear that I worked on Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. Perhaps you have a particular flair like Andy Warhol’s hair or a unique story such as Susan Boyle of Britain’s Got Talent. It would help if you were focusing on what you believe will stick with potential customers.
Mike insists that elevator pitches don’t have to be for investors only. Instead, he recommends that entrepreneurs develop an elevator pitch that focuses on what they are best at, passionate about, and why. This will allow you to instantly communicate your unique value proposition to anyone and everyone at any time.
Analyze your target audience
Mike’s experience taught him that understanding your audience is key to attracting their attention. So he suggests entrepreneurs ask the question, “What psychology is used by the decision-makers that you are trying to attract?”
He believes that there is no such thing as too much market research. Instead, Mike believes it’s important to interview as many people as possible in your target audience to get to know them and to learn what brand messaging they have been exposed to. This will help you to identify ways to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Create your brand
Mike recommends taking a different approach to branding if you build a business based on your unique experiences. Mike says that you are your brand and should not have a logo or brand name. Please keep it simple. Choose colors that reflect your industry and personal style. Use a clear, clean visual style that appeals directly to your target audience.
Your Online Ecosystem
Mike suggests that you create an online community to maximize brand reach. He recommends putting all your online contacts on one conversion page. He found that driving people to a call scheduling system such as Calendly is particularly effective.
Mike encourages you to produce thought leadership content for blogs and podcasts that are targeted at your audience. You can even include the people you’re trying to market to for better results. For example, Mike says, “Back in Hollywood, if I had taken this advice and created a podcast for Legendary Hollywood Producers’, you can bet that they would have all known about me and hired my podcast.”
Keep it fresh
The work of launching your brand is not done. Mike suggests that you must update your online content more frequently if you want to remain relevant in a competitive market. He explained, “If your market is competitive, you have to hustle more than your competition.” When you retire, you can rest. However, you can’t become complacent once you have established yourself.
The bottom line
Mike has learned so much from his filmmaking academy that he is now launching The Visionary Planner, a project which teaches entrepreneurs valuable lessons. He hopes that it will help as many people realize their entrepreneurial dreams and build thriving businesses.