‘If you are a small business owner you are your brand. Everything you do, every place you go in your community, you are representing your business and giving people an impression of your brand,” says business consultant Marcus Padulchick.

Padulchick, the founder and CEO of Robbinsville-based Source Excellence, will be the speaker at the next meeting of the central region of the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners (NJAWBO). The lunch meeting will take place in the conference center at American Metro Center in Hamilton on Wednesday, November 14, at 11 a.m. Cost: $18. Reservations may be made online at www.NJAWBOMercer.org.

Padulchick will speak on “Shifting Your Perspective for Business Growth.” Padulchick has reinvented himself many times throughout his career. He opened his first business, a lawn mowing service, while still in high school, and eventually sold it. In his second business he purchased a plot of land on the Jersey Shore and grew culinary herbs that he sold to restaurants in south Jersey and Philadelphia. He has moved on to a wide variety of other businesses throughout his life.

“My father was an engineer, but my grandfather was an entrepreneurial guy. He owned several companies over the years. I think I owe a lot to both of them because they both always encouraged me to try new things. My father would tell me, ‘If you don’t try you will never know if you can succeed,’” says Padulchick. His grandfather, Marcus Butler, was the mayor of Bradley Township for many years.

Eventually Padulchick joined the military but continued to keep his entrepreneurial spirit even there. “I always had some opportunity going on the side,” he says.

After leaving the military he received a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Temple University in 1978. He became interested in naturopathy and went to England, where he received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Sussex Institute of Osteopathic and Naturopathic Medicine. For more than 28 years he has worked in the self-empowerment arena, holistic health care, and conventional health care. He is also an expert in strategic planning and entrepreneurial studies.

He lectures and provides individual consulting on business development and life enrichment. He is the founder of the Padulchick Center for Entrepreneurial studies and Source Excellence, an international general marketing and advisory firm. He has consulted with a number of pharmaceutical firms, including Johnson & Johnson and McNeil Nutritional. He is also the founder of the Holistic Business Group, a member-driven business organization for wellness, self-empowerment, and green and fair trade professionals.

Foundations and Relationships. Business owners “must focus on relationships and the need for solid foundations to grow personally, professionally, and economically,” says Padulchick. “We know that as business owners it is important to be motivated and enabled to move, convinced the direction is correct. You must be ready to take calculated risks.”

Building that foundation includes making sure that your “mindset” is aligned with your business goals, he says. It’s about shifting your perspective about your business and yourself. “You must first clearly define who you are, what you are offering, and who your potential clients are. Then you must develop a distinct message to tell others about your business.”

Define Yourself. Your brand includes how you present yourself, your work, and of course your written and online business materials. Most business owners focus on one or two of these areas, but do less well with others, he says.

Your Appearance. “You don’t have to dress like a fashion plate every time you step out of your door to go to the grocery store, but you should be aware that the way you look when you are out in your community reflects on your business,” he says. “When I walk into a business or when I walk into a networking event, people don’t think, ‘Here comes Source Excellence,’ they think, ‘Here comes Marcus.’ You are your business. Always make a good impression because it takes a lot longer to recover from a bad impression than to make a good impression the first time,” he says.

Build Relationships, Not Customers. Part of that first impression is “basic common courtesy,” says Padulchick. From shaking hands to sending thank you notes, courtesy will help you to build stronger relationships. “Don’t go into a networking event thinking that you are going to build your customer base. You are there to build relationships, not customers,” he explains. “If everyone at the event was there just to build a customer base you would have everyone talking and no one listening. That’s not networking.”

Your Work. Are you making promises you can’t keep? That’s the quickest way to give your brand a bad name, according to Padulchick. If you promise something on a specific date, deliver or let your customer know why you can not. “Who is holding you accountable?” he asks.

Be Clear in Your Marketing. There is a difference between marketing and advertising, says Padulchick, and it is something that many small business owners don’t understand. “Marketing is about building your name recognition, your brand. Advertising is a specific offer enticing customers to buy something,” he explains. Social networking, while important for a business, is not advertising. “A lot of people come to me and say ‘I’m doing all of this social networking and it is not translating into sales.’ They need to add advertising to the mix.”

Your Business Materials. Do your website, your business card, your brochures, and other materials all look the same and deliver the same message? Padulchick mentions looking at a typical grocery store bulletin board for examples. “Often you can take down three or four different business cards or flyers for the same business and each looks different and offers different things. Unless you read closely you don’t know that they are from the same business,” he says.

Obviously, that’s a problem. Even if you offer more than one service or product, your marketing materials should have a common theme and look to help your potential customers develop a feeling of familiarity and relationship with your business.

The best way to improve your business focus and grow your business is to be honest with yourself, he says. “Take a good look at yourself in the mirror. What are you doing well? Where can you improve?” Honesty will lead to clarity — and that will lead to business growth.

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