As a real estate CEO and entrepreneur, I’ve built two multi-million dollar brands. Here is the advice I would give, based on my 20+ years of successful experience, to other female entrepreneurs who wish to do the same.
Know The Brand’s Purpose
The purpose of a brand is to deliver an amazing experience. What has made my brands successful isn’t our logo or website, but instead my purpose as a leader.
What drives me is helping others. If I feel as though I’m creating something bigger that other people are benefitting from, then I’m tapping into what makes me feel good about my brand.
If I took a shallow approach to my work, I would say that I lease co-working office space. That’s not something that anyone would really get excited about. I look at it with a higher purpose and I say, “I help build businesses. I help make companies thrive. I help make people’s lives better.”
Having this mission behind my brand has driven me to successfully build world class companies because what dominates my actions is the desire for constant improvement and exceeding others’ expectations.
Have A Genuine Story That Shows Your Strengths
When trying to get any brand off the ground, knowledge of your strengths and the value you have to offer makes all the difference in the world. The story of how I started the Miami coworking center of Quest Workspaces illuminates how selling by my strengths allowed me to create a brand that won the deal.
I had always wanted space on Brickell Avenue in Miami. A space had opened up in one of the most prestigious trophy buildings in the city of Miami, the famous Espirito Santo. I knew I was going up against two large, institutional competitors with way more capital than me and way deeper pockets, and it made me nervous.
When it came time to meet with the building owner, I simply told my truthful story and why they should choose me. Instead of competing with the two Goliaths, I positioned my concept as totally different: a capable operator that had just as much experience, but with a vastly different way of doing things.
It was genuine, sincere, and confident – and it intrigued him. I closed the deal, we launched our co-working center in Miami, and to this day the venture has been a huge success.
Include Employees In The Brand
Creating a brand is all about making a difference and changing lives. The first lives you can change are those of your team members because they experience the brand every day. The leader sets the tone and the cadence, and then he or she creates the environment in which he or she is leading. And that really becomes the culture, which in turn illustrates the key values of the brand.
The best way to get started is to find something inspiring about your brand, and then engage others in it. If you feel as if you are serving a greater good, then others will be engaged and will want to get involved with it. And have fun! It’s such a beautiful, wonderful thing when it works well.
Lead With Ethics
It’s the brand’s job to bring people past their defenses and plant the seeds of trust. How do you do that? Through ethics. And it starts with you as the leader.
A brand that brings down the walls is one that is going to succeed with people. When I was younger, I didn’t realize the extent to which flawed ethics exist in business. Talk to anyone who has been a consumer and they’ll say they got the short end of the stick from someone that they brought a product or service from. So people after a while tend to get guarded. This results in distraction and even worse, distrust.
Integrity is one of the most important values for a leader to have, because it is important in its own way but also has the potential to enhance other values in your brand. Without integrity, these values are weakened. You can be persistent in your work, but without integrity your talent loses its value in the long run.
Remember that reputation is everything to your brand. When your business falls on hard times (and inevitably it will one day), know that your integrity shows most in periods of stress and that is what people are going to remember about you. Don’t be tempted to give in and act out of desperation because invariable things will get better one day and your reputation will never change once you’ve tarnished it once.
On the other hand, when you are in an unenviable situation yet still treat people with dignity and respect, how you handle yourself doesn’t go unnoticed then, either. In fact it will separate you and your company from the many others who don’t value integrity as a key part of their brand.
Be A Giver
To serve is the highest honor.
At the end of the day, businesses make money by serving another person something that they can not create themselves. The most successful brands in the world are the ones who give to other people the most. They are the ones motivated not only by money, but also by the need to serve others.
For anyone who wants to bring their brand to the next higher level, my advice would be to give more, even past what you think you can. You’d be surprised by what you find you can do.
Give all you can! It’s the only way you’ll ever reach your brand’s true potential to serve other people.
Summing It Up
Many times when people ask what has led me to create such fabulous brands, they expect me to say that it was our graphic designer or our social media team. It’s not that they aren’t important to delivering the brand, but the core driver of any brand’s success is more abstract than that. It’s the mission, integrity, purpose, and what experience the brand delivers to others, as well as how it is integrated with those surrounding it. To read more, catch my book coming out in 2018 called Laura K’s Quest.
Laura Kozelouzek is a successful entrepreneur and leader in the workspace and hospitality industries. She is a visionary, business builder and well respected for her ability to create “high energy” results oriented, workplace cultures. In July 2010, Laura launched Quest Workspaces, providing serviced office space, conference room, co-working and virtual offices and has become a leading brand, featured in 47 publications including; Wall Street Journal, CBS News, Fortune Magazine and New York Times.