Being an entrepreneur, honsultant, coach or “solopreneur” can be exhausting.
Everywhere you turn, there’s a new tip to build your business “the right way,” and it’s no easy task to separate the good advice from the bad. In every corner of the internet, entrepreneurs are hustling hard to stay on top of the seemingly ever-changing rules of success.
What if there was a way you could escape the hamster wheel while still moving your business forward? What if there was a way to achieve all your entrepreneurial goals without having to constantly adapt to the latest list of “83 things you need to be doing right now”?
I recently interviewed Chris Ducker, founder of Youpreneur Academy. Ducker was once a burnt-out business owner and now calls himself a relaxed and successful entrepreneur who takes every Friday off. He says the secret is to apply a timeless strategy you’ve had in your toolbox all along: your personal brand.
Kevin Kruse: What is personal branding? Why is it important?
Chris Ducker: Personal branding is building your business around who you are, what you’re all about, and the people you want to serve. It’s a way to leverage your unique personality and skills to connect with the customers who need you the most.
In my experience, building a personal brand is the solution to constantly feeling like you’re behind the 8-ball. We’re made to feel in business as though we have to be constantly pivoting to be successful, and that’s true to a certain extent. The game of online business has changed, and it’s going to continue to change. The problem with building your business based on these ever-evolving rules is that they’re going to be different next week or next month or next year. No one can keep up with that.
Kruse: How did you land on personal branding as the solution?
Ducker: I had to learn the hard way! Many people in my community know that I used to be the virtual assistant (VA) guy. My business was all about connecting entrepreneurs to their ideal VA, and it was enormously successful. It still is. But that space is very competitive, and even more importantly, it was limiting from a growth perspective. When you’re the virtual assistant guy, that’s all you can talk about on your blog, podcast, vlog, whatever. No one is that single-faceted, so I eventually got to the point where I’d said all I had to say about virtual assistants. And where was I to go from there?
I knew I didn’t want to build another business that was product- or service-specific, only to share everything I knew about it and end up in exactly the same place a few years later. I wanted a business that could grow with me without having to undergo massive rebranding every time.
I started to pay attention to the murmurings about personal branding, and I realized how genius it is. Entrepreneurs put so much of ourselves into our businesses already that it makes perfect sense to make yourself the foundation of that business. It makes every decision so much easier because you’re not constantly trying to gauge the whims of the market. You’re just asking what you want to do and what best serves your audience. Being a “Youpreneur” is very intuitive that way.
Kruse: That’s an interesting term….
Ducker: It’s a term I’ve coined to describe the kind of entrepreneur whose business is specific to who they are, what they’re all about, and who they want to serve. A Youpreneur is someone who is committed to maximizing their interests and expertise in a way that makes a difference for a specific group of people.
Kruse: What do people need to know if they’re ready to pivot and become Youpreneurs?
Ducker: This is literally the last pivot you’ll ever need to make. Building your personal brand means you’re escaping the rat race of trying to keep up with everyone else in your space, and instead saying, “I want a business that has no competitors because no one does what I do in the way I do it. I want a business that isn’t dependent on what’s trending on Twitter.”
Kruse: Is personal branding for everyone?
Ducker: No, it’s really not. Some businesses should grow differently than a personal brand business would. If, for example, you’re an app developer or a big discount retailer, you’d focus less on personal branding and more on mass appeal. But personal branding is for professional bloggers, podcasters, vloggers, coaches, consultants, authors, speakers… it’s for the people who share their expertise and connect with their audience in a very individual way.
We’ve all been on the receiving end of excellent personal branding, and we remember those people in our lives. We go out of our way to do business with them again and again because they’re about so much more than what they sell. People want to do business with other people.
Kruse: Is there a wrong way to build your personal brand?
Ducker: Oh, absolutely. The biggest mistake would be to make your personal brand all about you. It IS about you, but that’s only half the equation. The other, more important, half is connecting with the people you want to serve. It’s sharing who you are and what you’re all about so that the people who resonate with that message will be able to find you more easily and self-select into your community. It’s about leveraging what you’re passionate about and really good at to make a difference for your tribe.
If you go into personal branding thinking, All I need to do is be myself, that’s a recipe for disappointment, not to mention narcissism. All you need to do, in reality, is solve problems for people in a way that no one else does or can.
Kruse: So how can aspiring Youpreneurs make sure they’re doing it right?
I’ve been so fortunate to have connected with a number of mentors along my own journey. I think every driven Youpreneur needs and deserves the advice of someone who’s been there, and a community of peers for support and encouragement.
This article was written by Kevin Kruse from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.