Personal Branding for the Entrepreneur

I recently heard a quote that was given by Randy Pausch, a Professor who gave a talk called “The Last Lecture — Achieving your Childhood Dreams.”  In his talk he said, “Taking risks is like jumping off a cliff and building your wings on the way down.”

If you’re an entrepreneur, you probably know this scenario well.

It takes great courage, dedication and kindness towards oneself to move along this path.  There’s a movement into the unknown that can be both exhilarating and terrifying.  A force that drives you forward that is often beyond comprehension.   When asked what you do and why you do it, words aren’t always the first things that come to mind.  It may just be a deep feeling, a sense, a knowing that’s waiting to be expressed but hard to convey. 

You can see it when someone on the entrepreneurial path has tapped into the flow of their craft.  They can touch a group of people at the level of the soul.  Even at the beginning stages of that path when very little money is flowing in and the kinks are still being worked out, there is a unique essence that shines through urging that person to take the reins and to create.  

They may be coaches helping their clients step into a new world, yoga instructors creating a sacred space for their students, artists defining a new medium of expression, or social entrepreneurs inspiring change in an under-served community.  Whatever it is, each one is bringing something new into the world that speaks directly from their heart … a gift that moves others to feel more connected to themselves and to those around them.

I grew up with one of these people in fact.  From an early age I’d watch my father go from gig to gig and job to job to earn a living.  He was and still is a composer, studio musician, jazz club player, symphony player, music teacher, school teacher, and school counselor.   If you’re an entrepreneur you probably know the story.  There’s often not one service that defines you.  Ultimately, it’s you that defines your set of experiences.

And along the way you define your brand as well.  You just may not know you’re doing it.  Or even how to do it.  But if you can find a way to tap into it and create it from a place deep within your own soul, it can work much more powerfully for you.

For so many years I have seen social entrepreneurs, creative professionals and independent coaches and consultants trying to do good things in the world but struggling to create a sustainable business.  They have a craft but can’t seem to align all the pieces together — their audience, offers, messaging, outreach strategy – and do it in a way that helps them to build a thriving business doing what they love.

With so much chatter in the marketplace and the inevitable fears that pop up along the way, it’s easy to think that we need tons of marketing programs to ‘generate’ a consistent stream of customers. The right marketing strategies and tactics can certainly help, but if they aren’t aligned with who we really are at our core, we can waste a lot of time and energy along the way.

Developing a personal brand that connects our core purpose and vision with our foundational marketing elements is what provides this glue and keeps us grounded as we build our business. With it we can create a personal brand that will connect deeply with our audience and help us attract a flow of customers whom we enjoying supporting.

As entrepreneurs with our own business practice, one of the most exciting opportunities we have is that we are our own brand.  Who we are as a person, what we do with our time, what we communicate at work and in our free time, and our very presence as a unique human being all make up our personal brand.   Everything that is created by us, whether it is seen or unseen and spoken or unspoken, is part of our personal brand.

This may seem a bit intimidating at first but it can also be quite powerful as well.  We each have something unique to offer the world.  It’s not just the skills we have, but the very presence we bring to what we’re doing that can create such a powerful impact.

People will immediately recognize our essence when they’re around us.  They may not be able to describe what it is, but it’s there.  The beauty is that it is our choice to bring it forth with great power and vibrancy into our work.  The more we can recognize, accept and allow it to shine through us, the more powerful our personal brand can become.

The very act of just being ourselves creates a powerful resonance that will ring true with the community of people  we are here to support.  They will feel it, and the more we cultivate our presence, not only will they be more drawn to us over time, but we will experience a greater sense of meaning, joy and freedom along the way.

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