If I could go back in time and tell people all the different ways they have influenced my life, they would be shocked at my perception of them. First person who comes to mind is my my next door neighbour. Watching her get ready and beautify herself for school and social events as a child mesmerised was mesmerising. My love for beauty really started there as I was always interested in how she was going to style her hair. There there was the family member, who’s lifestyle made me know that I did not want what they had so it motivated me to do better. There was the motivational speaker, who made me realised that there was more to life. I even count both Rihanna and Beyoncé as influencers upon my life. The person who had the greatest influence on my life was my mother. She taught me to love, how to be myself, how to not give up and so much more. All of these people, and others influenced me to a certain degree. There were some that I was intimate with, and others I only connected with them via their books or social media accounts. This varying degree of intimacy taught me that influence is not equal with all people.
I started reading Becoming A Person of Influence by John C. Maxell because of the rise of social media influencers. I don’t have much understanding of the power of influence, but I knew it was a powerful tool that all founders should tap into, especially with the rise in social media marketing. This book was an insight into just what influence is and broke it down into four levels. I've also gone to explain how I think this can be useful for beauty founders:
People are influenced by what they see you do. This is a good example of being influenced by Beyoncé. I have no idea who she is totally but what I perceive of her through her music and personal brand, is what influences me.
For Founders: this would be celebrities and their association with your brand.
This is when someone encourages others and can communicate with them on an emotional level. This is the level where motivational speakers are. Based on what they say and how they say it, it causes me to feel a certain way and thus, to act on that feeling.
For Founders: this would be social media influencers. Their voice on all those platforms, gives followers more opportunities to consume their content and thus feel connected on an emotional level.
This is helping people to reach their potential. More intimate than motivating, this allows the influencer to offer direct insight pertaining to whatever the mentee is facing.
For Founders: this can be workshops, events or any other way that a brand chooses to engage with their customers in person. The goal of these events is not to sell, but to build a tribe around the brand as customers can align their selves to the vision of the brand.
At this level, the influencer helps the people they are influencing to be their own influencer, not only from what they learned from the influencer but also from their own personal journey. What an influencer says and does is a model for their followers. Martin Luther King Jr influenced Nichelle Nichols who influenced Whoopi Goldberg who influenced Leslie Jones.
For Founders: This level can be split in two different ways. Firstly, this can be explained for when word of mouth marketing comes into action. A hard goal to achieve as not all brands will achieve 'word of mouth' status. Secondly, this can also be multi-level marketing, which again is not suitable for every brand. Avon and Mary Kay are examples of multi-level marketing.
From these four levels, it made me understand just how powerful product/personal branding is important and the unlimited strength of influence. Beauty Founders can tap into this power by:
Lesson 1: Recognise the Importance of Branding
One important thing for founders to understand about branding is how they are perceived by customers. All of what was mentioned previously cannot happen without a brand that customers can aspire to use and have. What effort are you putting in to separate your self from other brands that would cause customers to want to try your products? What message are you putting out there and how can your brand leverage from it? How is that message being received and perceived? And more! Branding can be a rabbit hole and although branding is important, it is not something founders should feel overwhelmed by it. Rebranding, if needs to be done, is a lot easier/cheaper than you think - as simple as uploading a new profile pic or rewriting a blog post.
Lesson 2: Having Integrity
This is a big challenge, even for me. I personally believe that integrity is a foundational building block to be successful in business. Integrity builds trust – with customers, suppliers and your retailers. It is coming through and doing what you said you were going to do. I believe to achieve excellence, integrity has to be established within first. Achieve your goals and fulfil your personal promises. From there, it is not hard to do the same for others and integrity encourages transparency and develops consistency.
Lesson 3: To have an influence, build relationships
I knew the importance of having a network, but this book really put it into perspective to me on how you influence your network by relationships. When growing a network, it is easy to build ‘relationships’ based on who has what – but that is being advantageous for yourself, and that’s a no-no. As the book states, “Anytime you devalue people, you question God’s creation of them,”. For me, that means networking should go beyond looking to make friends with a beauty buyer but actually caring about that relationship. With that kind of mindset, I believe you could find a cofounder or get exclusivity with a retailer - just from valuing a person rather than seeking your own agenda. This will take courage and consistency on your part as you will have to be the initiator of many of these relationships.
The book has 10 chapters full of important lessons for founders on a personal level and on a corporate level. For that reason, I am including this book on the Recommended Reading List. Let us continuously endeavour to make right decisions for our future.