In a world where 8 out of 10 small business fail within the first 18 months (according to a Forbes article, titled “5 Reasons 8 out of 10 Business Fail”), it makes me wonder why more small business owners don’t leverage their relationships or their Personal Brand to promote their business.  An individual drives most small businesses and clients do business based upon their relationship with that person.  Clients place their trust and loyalty in that person while serving as a source of revenue and referrals.  In the past 10 years, the number of tools available to create and build a Personal Brand has grown rapidly, making it easier for small businesses to compete in a global economy.   As a result of the tools available, I have seen more business owners step out of the shadows of their business by leveraging online publishing and social media tools to share their voice and personal brand.   However, why aren’t more small business owners taking advantage of this opportunity and how do they get started?

To answer these questions, I called upon Personal Branding expert, Jay Palter (for more information on Jay, visit JayPalter.ca).   Jay helps people find their digital voices, articulate their personal brands and build engagement within their online networks.   In part 1 of our interview, we covered why Personal Branding is valuable, Bloggers versus Non-Bloggers, and Finding Your Voice.

“The Why of Personal Branding”personal brand in wood type

Small businesses are built upon relationships.  During our interview, Jay shared that “It makes sense that leveraging the Personal Brand is essential because it is the source of trust and loyalty for many businesses. People do business with people they know, like and trust.“ It would be my assumption that the 2 out of 10 businesses that succeed do so because of the power of the business leader’s Personal Brand as well as a quality product among many other reasons.

Blogging versus Non-Blogging

Based upon his experience, Jay shared that the “personality type of those that succeed at Personal Branding is one centered on an unwavering desire to create things that consumers enjoy and share.”   It goes without saying that Bloggers offering quality content have a head start on the competition versus Non-Bloggers.  Having readily available content to share (articles, illustrations, videos, etc…) allows business owners to differentiate themselves by offering free advice for current and prospective customers while building rapport with their audience.

Finding Your Voice

Probably one of the most difficult things for small businesses to tackle, Finding Your Voice could be the difference between a successful versus failed business.  During our conversation, Jay share one of his favorite quotes from Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.”  Part of finding your voice involves truly understanding why you’re in the business you chose.  If your audience senses that you aren’t fully committed to your business or why you do it, they won’t be compelled to believe in business or the products the business offers.   To help you find your voice, Jay offers another quote by Nilofer Merchant, which states, “Get in touch with your onlyness.”  What is your “onlyness?”

Onlyness is that unique viewpoint born of our accumulated experience and perspective and our vision. It’s the thing that only you can bring into a situation. (Source)

This reference was eye-opening to me as it clarifies in one word what needs to be identified in order to truly find your voice.  It’s what makes you unique.  Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll share our discussion on Grassroots Tips for Building an Audience and Budget-Friendly Tools of the Trade.  These tips and tools, combined with a content strategy and your voice will help set you apart from the competition.