Posted Friday, February 18, 2005
When you're all alone in the privacy of your home office, surrounded by your computer, your phone and your business idea, have you ever asked yourself, "Where's the line between me in my business and the business in me"?
With hundreds of thousands of home-based businesses starting every year, and few ever flourishing, the topic of branding has become hot, hot, hot. And thanks to experts touting the need for a personal brand in sole proprietor businesses the confusion is growing. It's no wonder. Business... personal... personal... business-- what IS the big difference any way?
Last week, I was guiding a client (a service-based sole practioner) through the same step-by-step process that I take every company (sole practioner, entrepreneur or a business of any size) through to develop their brand and I noticed that as we got deeper and deeper into the process, she was having more and more trouble coming up with answers. The very answers that would separate her from other people engaged the same exact business and distinctly establish her brand.
In the middle of working on the most important step in the branding process-- the brand statement--I asked her the simple question, "Why does she do business she does?" she burst into tears. Halfway into the box of Kleenex she finally, revealed the most amazing answer as to why she was in her chosen field in the first place. Honestly, I think she stunned herself. We both sat silent for over a minute in awe of the power she had tapped into with her discovery. (Don't let anyone fool you, this is from where the true power of branding comes.)
Then doubt reared its ugly head and like a butterfly emerging from a new cocoon, a series of questions poured out of her: "Is this my business or is it me?" "Is why I do what I do really that important?" "Why is it so hard for me to stand in the power of my business and really make something of it?"
You get the picture? You may even be standing in a similar picture, even wrestling with the same questions yourself. Bless you if you're not. Let's look at the difference between 'your business' and 'you the person' and see if we can clear up this question once and for all.
A business: (be it Niketown or Bob's Shoe Bonanza) Delivers a product or service to fulfill a customer need. You: Deliver a product or service to fulfill a customer need.
A business: Establishes a certain value that a customer can rely on from every contact with their product or service. You: Establish a certain value that a customer can rely on from every contact with your product or service. (If not, get on it immediately!)
A business: Communicates consistently to reach the customers that have a need for their product or service. You: Communicate consistently to reach the customers that have a need for your product or service. (If not, what are you waiting for?)
A business: Enjoys a financial reward equal to the amount of customers that it serves, AND a personal reward for the creator/C.E.O. You: Enjoy a financial reward equal to the amount of customers that you serve AND YOU get to experience the personal reward yourself.
If you look at just these four basic, bottom-line points, the difference between a business and you as a sole business owner is... nothing; unless you count the added bonus of you getting a financial AND personal reward.
At the start of every single business, throughout history, there has never been a separation between the person starting it and the business itself. If you asked any business figure-head today, Bill Gates of Microsoft, or Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com, or if they took over a company like Meg Whitman for Ebay, or Carly Fiorina for Hewlett- Packard, they would tell you that there is no difference in who 'they are' and what 'they bring' to their business. Why? Because there's no room for a difference. It's the alignment that makes it possible to reach the highest of the heights.
It's challenging enough to make any business succeed. It's tough enough to make any business reside in the mind of a customer. Why would you remove the very power of 'you' in every shape and form from your business?! Why not every day do the thing that moves you the most? You are the only thing that sets your business apart-- you just need a process of tapping into your power, connecting it to your business, and a systematic way of communicating it to your customers over and over and over again.
When developing your amazing business as a brand, throw the doors wide open. Create it as you would if you were reaching millions. You can always decide exactly how many millions later. Thinking of your brand as just a 'personal' one will do the opposite. Keep it small.
If you work for yourself, be it your own business, network marketing, or even an agent/broker condition under a corporate umbrella, you are the CEO of your business. Every CEO brings themselves personally to their business. The great ones bring every thing they are to their creation, every moment.
The majority of our lives are spent doing what we call work. As an entrepreneur or business owner, you have the wonderful opportunity to make it more. Make it your creation. Think of yourself as the Creator of an Entrepreneur Organization. When you wake up tomorrow, instead of saying to yourself, "I'm going to work" say "I'm going to create." And the operative word is I'm. The true power of really making something in your business will come from investing in it the most valuable commodity you have-- you.
There is no separation on the road to big business success: just because you're personally on it. True big business success comes to those who know, it's not just business-- it's personal too.
About the Author
Written by Kim Castle, the Co-founder of BrandU™ — the home of only step-by- step process for developing your business as a brand from the inside out!