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10 Things You Realize When You Start Your Own Business

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10 Things You Realize When You Start Your Own Business

If, like me, you have been an employee your whole life, and your immediate family have all been employees, jumping off of the employee treadmill and starting a small business is going to turn your mind inside-out in some pretty profound ways.

In fact, you might spend the first year or so of your new career spinning your wheels with a deer-in-the-headlights look, and therefore not getting a whole heck of a lot done. That’s okay; it’s why God created unemployment benefits and temp jobs. And don’t worry; you’ll get the hang of it.

Here are some of the things that have melted my mind:

1. When you start your own business, you’ll never, ever have to go job hunting again. Ever.

Sure, there may be times when you’re tight on cash and have to work at a café or take on some freelance projects for a little while just so you can eat, but this is totally different from thinking of a job as being a long-term “career”. You know that this job a tactical move to tie you over until your REAL career – your business – picks up again.

(Of course, you probably won’t want to tell that to your temporary boss.)

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2. When you start your own business, you’ll never waste your time and energy making someone else rich again.

You’re working for one person: YOU. And you’re working to make YOU rich. Not Wal-Mart, not the neighborhood repair shop – YOU. Nobody else.

(Okay, maybe the “rich” part hasn’t happened yet, but the potential is there.)

3. When you start your own business, you’ll never have to put up with awful bosses or office politics again.

You may one day BE a crappy boss; and if you are, your business will suffer, so you’ll either learn to stop scaring off your staff or go belly-up. But you can control you. You can’t control your boss or your coworkers.

4. When you start your own business, you’re going to work harder than you ever have in your life … and you’ll love every minute of it.

Why? Because you’re figuring out how to make yourself rich. It’s hard to have that kind of motivation when you’re working for someone else.

5. When you start your own business, other business owners and CEOs become your peers, not your employers.

When you call up technical support, you’ll realize that the CEO of the company who made the product you’re using isn’t just some faceless goon who might show up in the media now and then if they’re famous enough. No, they’re ordinary, flesh-and-blood people, just like you … who started out small, just like you. In fact, if it’s a small company you’re dealing with – say, an iPhone app developer – when you make that technical support call, you might even end up talking to the CEO herself.

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Suddenly, the playing field just got even.

6. When you start your own business, you, and you alone, are responsible for your income.

This means that you’re going to become obsessed with two things: marketing yourself, and keeping your customers happy. No marketing or doing a lousy job means no customers, which means that you don’t eat. You get direct feedback from your efforts.

It’s your butt on the line. Nobody else is going to do it for you.

7. When you start your own business, you’ll find out who your real friends are.

As much as your friends and family may love you, and as much as you may love them back, the ones who are employees are simply not going to “get” what you’re doing. Their butts aren’t on the line like yours is. So while they may offer lip service to supporting you, you can’t rely on them to help you out in meaningful ways.  It’s not their fault; they mean well, but ya gotta actually walk in someone else’s shoes to really understand them.

(Don’t be surprised if you start hanging out with other business owners more than you do your old friends.)

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8. When you start your own business, you’ll realize that you have the potential to be paid what YOU’RE worth, not what the job is worth.

Even if the money part doesn’t happen overnight, it’s hard to describe the feeling when you realize that your income isn’t, by default, limited by the arbitrary amount set by the company you work for.

That “glass ceiling” everybody’s always talking about? Gone!

9. When you start your own business, you’ll learn how to manage your money really, really well.

Forget buying $300 sunglasses or blinging out your pickup with fancy chrome wheels. Since you’re not always going to be able to count on a set amount of money coming in each month, you’re going to think twice before spending your hard-earned cash on anything you don’t need.

At first, expect 99% of your income to go toward paying bills, buying food, or covering business expenses. Anything left over, you’ll probably want to sock away for the next lean month.

10. When you start your own business, you’ll feel freer, smarter, more independent, more resourceful, more in control, and more powerful than you have ever felt in your life.

Economies and governments may collapse, financial systems may fail, but if you’re working for yourself, you know you’ll survive.

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Why?

Because nothing can ever take away your mind, your talents, or your skills, and there will always be someone who wants them.

Your turn: How has starting your own business changed YOUR thinking?

Featured photo credit: Steve Jobs painted portrait / Thierry Ehrmann via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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