The three categories of activity identified in the headline above have both similarities and differences.
Since correctly recognizing the term that best describes you could have some bearing upon the way in which you brand your operation, we are using this article to explore these different categories. That said, be aware that branding does play a key role in each . . . and you should understand that your personal brand may (but does not necessarily have to) play an important part in shaping your company’s brand.
Small Business vs. Entrepreneurship
According to the website DifferenceBetween.com:
“The difference between small business and entrepreneurship mainly depends on the persuasion of growth. If the owner/owners of the business are content with the manner in which the business is currently operating and do not wish to engage in more growth opportunities, then it can be categorized as a small business. On the other hand, if the entrepreneur/entrepreneurs operate their business with a clear and creative vision and are interested in expansion opportunities, this type of business is an entrepreneurship. Since small businesses do not pursue growth, they remain small or medium scale throughout their lifespan. However, this does not mean that they are not successful; some small businesses may be cash rich.”
Entrepreneur vs. Influencers
According to a National Geographic article entitled, “Influencers: The Modern Entrepreneur,” the following applies:
“Entrepreneurs are people who organize, manage, and take on the risks of a business. They often start a new business in response to a perceived need for a good or service. An influencer, on the other hand, is someone who has the power to affect or change people and their behavior through social media—often to get them to buy something. Influencers who start their own business certainly fall under the first part of the definition of entrepreneur, as they are managing their business and taking on risk.”
Typically, small businesses build brands overtime that reflect the product and/or service being provided. The process involves finding the qualities that set the business apart from others and developing strategies to reinforce those traits and communicate them to customers. Each interaction with the general public and consumer audience then plays a part in refining the brand to reflect the feedback received via comments, reviews, complaints, and sales. This process of evolution should be never-ending. (See our articles designed to help you get started building a brand.)
Very often, the brands of both entrepreneurs and influencers seem to take on the characteristics of the personal brand of the individual(s) involved. (That said, a strong personal brand can be useful to a small business, too, which may not necessarily be seeking growth but would want strong customer retention – an attribute that could be helped by loyalty to an individual.)
Common Qualities of an Entrepreneur/Influencer
An Inc. magazine article entitled “10 Essential Characteristics of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs,” indicated that these individuals tend to be: creative; passionate; motivated; optimistic; future-oriented; persuasive; flexible; resourceful; adventurous; and decisive. In my experience, many of those kinds of words also ultimately end up being among those that define the brand of both the person and the company.
When I first started at GUARD (pre-Berkshire Hathaway days), the company was small (15 employees) and had been founded by a pair of entrepreneurs who had sketched the original structure of the organization on a napkin over lunch. Frankly, each of the words identified by the Inc. article describe this husband and wife team very well . . . and also became the kinds of words that applied to the culture, products, and services of the company.
In the early days in particular, GUARD was an entrepreneurship that was independent, creative in thinking outside the box in developing unique products and services, flexible in responding to marketplace opportunities, resourceful in stretching available capital, future-oriented in building toward a big long-term goal, etc.
Understanding that personal and company brands tend to merge can be important in either choosing to intentionally build a personal brand OR in making sure steps are taken to separate the brand of the entrepreneur from that of the company. Very often, this choice should be one of the first made by small businesses.
Ways to Enhance Your Personal Brand
Patrick Ambron in an Entrepreneur magazine article (“Is Your Personal Brand Losing You Business?”) identified four fundamental steps that could be taken to have a strong on-line foundation for a personal brand.
- Claim your domain name.
- Build a personal website.
- Set up profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Do some basic search engine optimization.
(i.e., Use your actual name wherever possible and link all your various pieces of online content to one another.)
Taking these steps can be very inexpensive and (using readily available tools) should be relatively easy. (Learn more about personal branding.)
And So . . .
If you are an entrepreneur or influencer (or perhaps both), assume your personal brand is going to become part of your business. Therefore, you better start paying close attention to the kind of statement you are projecting. If, on the other hand, you are a small business, ask yourself whether customer sales/retention would be improved by linking your identity to that of your company brand . . . or whether you want the two to make a different statement.