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Successful businesses dress the part.

If you are operating your business without some kind of plan, or without having given any thought to building your brand, then I would say you are running naked. Stark naked. And that’s not good for you or your business.

A successful business runs by the numbers. The basic numbers are your sales and expense forecasts, start-up and ongoing costs, and extent of funding. You need to keep tabs on these and scale projects and spending accordingly.

And, if your dream is to build a business and income that lasts, you must also build a brand. In fact, the smaller you are, the more important brand is to you.

We’re not saying every business has to have the full formal treatment running dozens of pages long. Just that every business has to have a plan. A plan that includes financials. Even if it’s just a plan you’ve worked out in your own head. You can put a comprehensive business plan together using a simple one-page template. It’s not hard, but does require critical thinking and constructive decision making.

Nor are we saying you can’t market yourself and generate decent revenue without having a brand. People do it every day. But to compete effectively and maximize sales, you’ll need to distinguish yourself from the crowd.

Your brand is what you (or your products) stand for. Expressed in emotional shorthand. It’s the promise, the big idea, and the expectations that reside inside the head of each customer’s mind.

Your brand isn’t what you say it is; it’s what they say it is.

If you don’t have something guiding your actions and investment of time and money and something that tells your prospective customers what you stand for, then make no mistake, you’re out there doing the full monty. Let’s change it. Your competitors are out there strutting their finest. You should be too.