I’m going to express an opinion that might not be shared by all in this current social media world.
There’s a thread going around in small business about something called personal branding and, while I think it has merit and can certainly give some people a leg up on the competition, please don’t confuse personal branding with building a business.
Again, when a person creates a brand that allows them to stand out, they may be able to charge more for their services or get higher profile gigs, but what they’ve created is a job. (In some cases that’s the grand payoff of a personal brand, a better job.)
Now, I’m not against personal branding, as I said it may offer some people that ability to create the best job going, but a business is an asset, something that gets more valuable over time and, here’s the biggie, can be sold. It is very difficult to sell a personal brand. Some of biggest personal brands you could name on twitter right now would be worth very little without the person behind the avatar.
It’s really not a right way or wrong way, it’s a strategic choice, but know the consequences of the choice. Funny thing is it’s actually easier to build a personal brand online than it is to build a business brand and that’s where some people get tripped up. It’s a balancing act that must be intentionally orchestrated and gradually implemented.
Here’s what I mean. To get a business started, you may find it much easier to just be you, provide great service and let people remark all over town how you’re the next big thing. But, at some point, you have to take yourself out of the equation and let the idea of what you’ve started be grown into a brand, if, in fact, you want this business you created to be worth more than your book of business this month.
The first step may be the name of your business – I changed Jantsch Communications to Duct Tape Marketing six years ago and went from a guy in Kansas City slinging marketing to, I’ll just stop at something more. Now, I did 483 other things, some of them really stupid and half-baked, but the change started with the name. The more Duct Tape Marketing is a brand and less John Jantsch, the more valuable it becomes to the secret list of companies I am courting to buy it.
Obviously, creating a business or a brand is not simply a matter of picking a good name and packaging it, but it does need to originate from the idea that a business is likely worthless unless it can operate without the owner or the personal brand of the founder.
Photo credit: Wesley Fryer