How to Avoid the Biggest Mistake Entrepreneurs Make
If you could go back in time and correct what you now see as a critical error, would you?
Time travel isn’t possible, but using another person’s hindsight as your foresight is not only possible, it’s essential to your path as an entrepreneur.
Learn from others’ mistakes.
Learn from my mistakes.
When I was interviewed for the Onward Nation podcast last year, the host asked me to share one of the biggest mistakes I’d made in entrepreneurship; what would I do differently if I had to do it all over again?
One of the things I told him is that I wish I would have started building my personal brand at the same time that I started building my professional brand. (You can listen to the podcast here.)
As entrepreneurs we get so caught up in launching our businesses and we give all of our effort into our business brand. We put all of our branding eggs in that one basket.
But here’s what we know: the vast majority of businesses fail. So if we pump all of our marketing and branding efforts for two, five or ten years into making our business grow, and then our business goes belly up, or we sell it or exit it, and if we’ve not taken steps to build our own personal brand, then it’s like starting all over again.
Years ago, when businesses were just finding the value of the Internet, I had the opportunity to purchase the domain name “larrybroughton.com” but I thought, “Why would I need that? My hotel businesses have websites. I don’t need that.”
Big mistake. In fact, this is the biggest mistake entrepreneurs make.
At the time I couldn’t see that my personal brand was a necessary and vital part of my path as an entrepreneur, and as it turns out, essential for my business as well.
This is why over the last several years I’ve been developing my personal brand so that if any of my businesses go away for whatever reason, people know who Larry Broughton is.
I’ve now established myself as an expert in entrepreneurship and leadership, in addition to a trusted thought leader and innovator in the hospitality industry.
Set Out the Honey Pot
Realize this: your personal brand (as a leader, entrepreneur, musician, sports figure, media personality, etc.) is just as important as your company’s brand.
So, what does that mean? What is a personal brand, and how do we craft it and use it to attract attention and expand our sphere of influence?
Here’s the secret: I call it “setting out the honey pot.”
If you’ve ever left out a jar of honey on the kitchen counter or in the backyard, you know it attracts all kinds of critters. You don’t have to go looking for them. They’re naturally drawn in by the “honey pot.”
In terms of your personal brand, this is the one-to-many concept. It’s so much easier for people to come to you than it is for you to be chasing every single potential client out there. It’s even easier if we can build some techniques, skills and strategies to attract them to us.
In a future article, I’ll give you the eight strategies that I’ve been successfully using to build my personal brand and attract repeat national media interviews like MSNBC’s Your Business and appearances on The Travel Channel.
Find Your Unique Brand
The first step in attracting attention and expanding your influence is identifying your personal brand.
What makes up your brand? Anything that has to do with your values, your vision, your core competencies, your mission—it’s all tied to your personal brand.
If we consider ourselves as a brand—and especially as a thought leader in our industry or in our area of passion—then it’s much easier to separate ourselves from everyone else.
Note that I said a thought leader in our industry or passion. I used to be considered an expert in the hospitality industry because of my hotel businesses, but I knew that I had a passion for entrepreneurship and leadership years before I really started publishing things or going out and speaking publicly about these topics.
Your personal brand will set you apart. The truth is, it’s attractive when we’re not the same as everybody else.
But it takes some guts. We’ve got to be bold in order to do that because it’s easy to blend in. It’s safe to blend in, but that’s not where the excitement lies. That’s not what makes people pull out their wallets to spend time and money with you.
Personal branding breaks down into a simple equation:
PB = the way I look + the way I speak + the way I act
If it’s that simple, why is it that so few people are willing to do this?
We’re afraid that people are going to judge us, we’re afraid that if we step out there people are going to criticize us or critique us because we have an opinion that’s different from theirs.
It’s true that fear kills more dreams than failure ever will. Don’t let that happen to you! I want to encourage you to get over the fear because those people who are supposed to connect with you will connect with you.
It may take some time, but the people who have the most influence—the world changers—are the ones who have gone against the grain. Those are the people doing awesome things in the world.
Who Do You Want to Be?
To get you started thinking through your personal brand, I invite you to watch this short video featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
On those days when I need an extra dose of inspiration, I listen to it twice as part of my morning routine: once with my eyes open, and then a second time with my eyes closed. Listening with your eyes closed seems to drive the words down into your soul. And whether you like Arnold or not, I firmly believe that we can learn something from everyone.
Over the next week, I challenge you to watch and listen to this video as part of your morning routine and see what emerges to answer the all-important question:
Who do you want to be? (not “what,” but “who?”)
Your personal brand is waiting for you.
Stay tuned for parts 2, 3 and 4 on how to launch your personal brand.