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The Paradox Of Personal Branding For Entrepreneurs

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by David Garland in David's Blog

The Paradox Of Personal Branding For EntrepreneursThe personal brand and entrepreneurship didn’t used to go hand-in-hand.

It didn’t used to matter “who” started the company.

A visible Founder/CEO/tsar/master was not a requirement.

It was all about the product.

The era of big brands and big business was all about logos (think Pepsi), product pushing, spokespeople, models, and tightly controlled traditional advertising campaigns. It wasn’t about two-way communication with customers, authenticity, or transparency.

Now, of course, we all the know the game has completely changed because how we communicate and connect has changed. When many of the big brands (Goliaths) were founded, Facebook didn’t exist. The entire social web didn’t exist. There were only a few channels of communication (TV, radio, newspaper, telephone, pony express, mail).

But ever since the first Mom & Pop shop appeared on the corner of a little town, there is this paradox or challenge that always existed between big and small.

You, as an entrepreneur, had two options:

1. Go Big. This was the traditional route. Scalable. Based on mass marketing. Interchangeable CEO’s and personalities. Tightly controlled. Lots of procedures.

2. Stay Small. Based on one-on-one relationships with customers. Personality matters. Personal brand matters (even before the term existed) because people do business with YOU.

And these options were mutually exclusive. They were difficult to blend.

Now that game has changed. Moment of silence please…and now applause. Because you can go big by staying small (or stay small..nothing wrong with that) and lead with YOU, the hustling entrepreneur, as opposed to just your product (or service or whatever it is you sell – be it books, you as a speaker, a piece of software, advice).

Two cliche statements that are true: People form relationships with people. People buy from people they know, like, and trust.

Now, we are witnessing the rise of the NEW entrepreneurial personal brand. Visible, quirky leaders. We are in the midst of it. And the barrier of entry is far less (which means drive, creativity, and passion matter even more). The tools available to scale are vast (Facebook, Twitter, etc. allowing you to keep that one-on-one connection with many people). The business models continue to evolve (all kinds of creative ways to make money).

People like Gary Vaynerchuk, Chris Brogan, Ali Brown, Jessica Kim, Jason Sadler, Peter Shankman, Timothy Sykes, Josh Shipp, Anita Campbell, Amber Mac, Dan Schawbel, Tony Hsieh, Sarah Evans, Alexis Martin Neely…and the list goes on.

If you think about all the examples above, all of them market and promote using their personal brand. They are trusted resources as opposed to “just” product pushers. This is something you can do as well. Any entrepreneur can do it regardless of personality type.

And with this new visibility, of course, comes all kinds of challenges as well. Can I scale myself? Am I too accessible? What happens if I go away?

There has never been a more exciting time to be an entrepreneur and be a human as opposed to just a company. Are you ready to stick your personality out there?

What do you think? As an entrepreneur are you visible? What challenges have you faced? Where do you see all this going?

PS: This is one of the big concepts in my upcoming book, Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business, out this December. But, you can pre-order yours now and I will give you a virtual or real life hug.

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8 Steps to Turning What You Already Know into a Successful Online Course

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