How do you brand yourself as an entrepreneur? This is a question that was purposed to me in a caribou coffee shop one random afternoon by an acquaintance of mine. He went on to speak about the uncertainty of taking on such a title, let alone maintaining it. This discussion caused me to analyze just where his amazement and curiosity stemmed from. Why is it a farfetched idea to work for yourself, and how does it seem virtually impossible to ensure that everyone knows you under the title you created?
Five years ago, I decided to leave my corporate 9 to 5 in marketing and take the ultimate leap of faith by working for myself. I haven’t looked back since. Once I kicked my drive into high-gear, I made no room for the option of failure or to drift away from completing tasks that would bring me closer to my purpose in the entertainment industry. My game plan was simple: Humble myself to God’s direction, make sure that everyone in the room knew my name before I left, educate myself in various areas of the industry so that my conversation would not be limited no matter who I spoke to, and make it clear that I am hungry but far from thirsty when it comes to the pursuit to “level up.”
Although this was my personal method to the path of success, my conversation with my friend in the coffee shop made me ponder. In the eyes of those who have pursued a life of entrepreneurship in my circle, what would be three major components to becoming a successful entrepreneur and to building a brand? In order to settle this curiosity, I asked them all. The most common components that seemed to come up in each reply pertaining to successfully working for yourself was consistency, tenacity or resilience, and knowing your audience. When it came to branding, the answers were much like the responses just mentioned: consistency, knowing your audience, and agreeably, knowing with clear precision what your brand is and what purpose it serves.
I spoke with Christal Robinson, the program manager of O.A.S.I.S Foundation of N.C., to learn more about this interesting topic. O.A.S.I.S is a community-based human service organization offering a multi-dimensional spectrum of services focused on motivating, stabilizing and transforming lives throughout North Carolina. After covering a plethora of ideas and reasons why some successful entrepreneurs stay successful beyond the threshold of five years, she tells me that it is partially about appealing to your audience visually, such as having a logo that represents something that is easy to relate to the common person or a common thought like things that represent a family or working in corporate America. Robinson says that has been one of the most helpful tools that she has used when branding the organization in their fairly new market, Charlotte.
Lynell Fenner, the founder and CEO of Project Arise, mentioned in our conversation that it is so important to be a visionary first before you can even attempt to go into business for yourself. “You have to see the product or the venture in your mind completed beforehand,” she explains. A few other noteworthy points that she made was that one cannot be afraid to fail, and lastly, you are only as good as the team that you create around you.
I personalized that wisdom-filled jewel because so many people have lost everything that they have worked so hard for, based upon the kind of people in their corner. Whether it was due to listening to the wrong person, going into a trusted partnership with a business shark, or using poor discretion in actions towards the wrong person, it all leads to having bad energy around you and your baby (business). When taking the leap of faith into the unstable life of becoming an entrepreneur, there are so many factors that you have to consider before realizing that you are ready for such a responsibility. In conjunction with the points made by my successful close-knit circle of friends, I always encourage anyone seeking to become self-employed to find their purpose, know their gift, and they will excel. I believe people will pay you to do what you do the way you do it! No need to stay at a mundane nine to five feeling unfulfilled based on a check. The money will follow your gift.