Startup Founders as Public Figures
Becoming a founder is just as a simple as creating your own company.
Being a leader however, is an on-going challenge which puts you at the forefront of your company.
Not only are you attempting something that no one has ever done before, you are also trying to address problems that have plagued our society for years. That is why rules in the startup industry are being re-written everyday as startups come and go.
There is one well-known fact in this industry however; Founders are the face of the company.
In terms of personal branding, having a founder as the face is mostly beneficial to the startup, but it comes with a new set of responsibility for founders to uphold. A PR Crisis for you will affect your company and everyone affiliated with it, whether that would be your employees, partners, even your shareholders.
Below are some dos and don’ts for founders in their role as public figures.
- Curate your content
One way to promote your public image and opinion is to become a thought leader on a certain discipline. Becoming a though leader entails you being the authoritative figure in that industry, however you may want to start small. Instead of covering a large subject such as finance, it would be better to pick a particular niche in that topic, such as financial risk management.
Start with a topic relevant to your country, something that is recent and popular. Share articles as well in offline and online platforms such as your social media, blog, talks in business conferences, etc. Do not forget to engage the viewers by answering questions and responding to goodwill.
- Avoid sensitive subjects
Avoid sensitive subjects such as politics and religions. They can hurt your career and our company too. Differences in political views might affect the inner workings too, as believers of opposite spectrums can have a hard time working together too.
- Be careful who you associate yourself with
This includes everyone you follow, like, or share. Follow users with a positive image, whether they are professionals in your industry, your target audience, or even someone who seem interesting to you. Avoid users with a bad reputation, and double check your following list again. Be up to date.
- Monitor your online presence
Search yourself regularly. It might be embarrassing at first to look up your name on Google, but make it a habit unless you got an agency doing it for you. A good percentage of adults (24% according to Domain.Me) are being negatively affected by information about them online. You are mainly checking for inaccuracies, sharing of your content without permission, or even allegations made against you.
- Mind your behavior
Mind your manners, whether online or offline. We are living in a world where smartphones are common and billions of pictures are taken daily. Being a public figure means that you are losing your right to privacy, the extent to which greatly depends on how popular you are.
The responsibilities might seem daunting at first, but many see them as part of the job. Being a thought leader in an industry is everybody’s dream; talented people admire you enough to enter your company, clients will believe in you, and your peers will respect you as well. The problem is whether or not the benefit outweighs the cost for you personally.
This article is part of our lectures on personal branding.