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How To Build An Entrepreneur Personal Brand Like Richard Branson

personal brand personal branding Mar 09, 2023

If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re not actively building your personal brand, you’re stunting the growth potential of your business. Yes, you read that right.

Consider the following statistics: 

  • In a survey conducted by Entrepreneur magazine, 89% of respondents said that building a strong personal brand is important for success in entrepreneurship.
  • A study by the University of Technology Sydney found that entrepreneurs who had a strong personal brand were more likely to have successful businesses than those who didn't.
  • The Kauffman Foundation found that women who build a strong personal brand are more likely to attract funding for their businesses than those who don't. (sigh, 2-3x the work to get a shot at the same opportunities as male founders – it’s international women’s month; let’s not glaze over this…)

Unfortunately, if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you don’t actively build your personal brand. Here are the common reasons (read: false beliefs) why: 


  • You think it’s selfish.


When I had a team of 10, I felt the same, and I’m in personal branding. It’s hard not to feel like you’re taking all the shine or putting your team on the back burner when you put effort into building your own brand. 

The reality: Research like the study cited from the University of Technology Sydney continues to prove companies with strong founder brands enjoy more revenue.


  • You don’t have time.


When you’re a founder, you generally don the title of “Chief Bottle Washer.” You have your hands in everything! You are busy leading, when are you supposed to conquer social media when you hardly have time for lunch?

The reality: Prioritizing your personal branding (even with 10 minutes a day) will help the rest of your day fall in line when you treat it as a learning and development activity.


  • You have no idea what to say.


You can talk about your team, your products and services, and your customers with endless enthusiasm, but when it comes to sharing about yourself, you go blank or feel like a narcissist.

The reality: You’re focusing too much on yourself and not on your audience. When you focus on the latter, you’ll find sharing content becomes as easy as singing the praises of your product. 

Here’s how to overcome fear and build a Richard Branson or Sara Blakely-level entrepreneurial personal brand:


  • Communicate your personal brand intentions and strategy to key stakeholders.


If you’re concerned that your employees or customers will think your personal branding initiatives will derail your focus on the company, simply get ahead of this by sharing your commitment to building your brand and why you’re doing it. When communicated properly, you’ll find you generate more excitement than you do eye rolls. Here’s how to do it:


  • Communicating with employees:


Let your team know that a key initiative for you and the company is your personal brand. Cite research and studies (rip the above) to break down why this will help the company move forward. As a part of this communication, let them know how you intend to build your personal brand (which channels and which frequency). Then, invite them into the initiative. Oftentimes, it’s hard to take an objective look at what content will resonate the most with your audience. As a founder/CEO, you have some great beta testers to give real-time feedback and ideas, though! 

Ask your teams which information they think your customers would most want to hear or what potential employees would want to know about the company. Then answer the questions with content. There’s no better person to tackle this than you! It’s a win-win-win strategy: You outsource content idea generation, your employees get to connect with you and participate and hear your thoughts, and potential customers and employees get access to founder-led communication that will instill trust in the company.


  • Communicating with customers:


If you have a regular email newsletter, use your newsletter list to send a “From the Founder” memo to customers thanking them for their support and sharing that you are excited to answer more of their questions and be more directly connected to them via social media. Let them know how they can follow along, and similar to the suggested strategy with your employees, ask customers which questions they’d *most* want to hear from you. 

Imagine how excited you’d be if the founder of your favorite company sent you an email letting you know they’d be sharing content on social media more frequently, and they want your opinions and ideas on what to cover! 

One of my favorite NYC brands is Levain Bakery (best choco chip cookies in the world IMO), and I would be jazzed if the two women founders (who don’t show their faces a lot) said they’re doing a Founder Friday series where you get to request recipes and ask them about the company. 


  • Finding time to build your founder personal brand. 


Here’s the reality of any person living in the year 2023. NO ONE HAS TIME. Not a single person “has” time to do things. We MAKE time to do things, and we make time to do the things that matter. 

If you haven’t made time to build your entrepreneurial personal brand, it’s likely because you are stuck on how/where to start (more on that later) or you haven’t categorized the activity properly. 

Here’s what I mean by categorizing the activity. Most personal branding takes place on social media, so it tends to feel “wasteful” because most social media activity is. This feeling of waste is because you’ve been spending your social media time consuming, not creating content, and we all know how the consumption rabbit hole goes. 

The reality is when you create content, it’s “learning and development,” not aimless social media-ing. Think about it: You have to research content ideas, read about them, then connect them to your experience or beliefs, then share your thoughts. It’s not unlike product creation or ideation. In fact, some of my best business ideas have been generated from personal branding because it’s a time when I get to disconnect, listen, and learn out loud with my audience. Start viewing it as such.


  • Figuring out what to share.


If you’ve made it this far in the article, you’ve already realized you have two captive audiences to source the best content ideas from– your employees and your customers. Lucky you! Most creators don’t have the gift of built-in audiences and the position of “CEO/founder” to galvanize those audiences to give them incredible content ideas. Beyond these two groups, though, you’ll find other endless sources of inspiration for founder content. They include:


  • Insights from meetings. 


I sit in a ton of meetings, which means I bear witness to a lot of great ideas, or I say things in conversation I want to write down for later use. I started to record these because I find genuine content comes out of them.


  • Aha moments from your favorite books or podcasts. 


Founders read and learn a lot. My most viral posts on LinkedIn came from how I was implementing lessons learned in books into my entrepreneurial life. People like concepts, but they like case studies of people putting those concepts into action even more.


  • Conversations you have with other entrepreneurs.


Most entrepreneurs socialize with other entrepreneurs or network in founder spaces. This is where you have illuminating conversations. You get to hear about how others are scaling their biz, share how you’re scaling yours, and the best practices in doing so. Share these conversational nuggets as content(with appropriate discretion, of course). You have no idea how many people wish they ran in your circles!


  • Learning lessons from other roles in life or your favorite hobby.


Are you a parent? Great. You have a lot of viral content right there when it comes to connecting parenting with leading. Do you have a hobby you love? Use that as inspo. We have a client who is a musician, and some of his best content is when he connects the parallels of music and forensic accounting or business. What do you enjoy doing that you can share with your audience? 

The Recap:

  1. Building your personal brand as an entrepreneur is a powerful strategy to grow your company. Research shows doing so will help you outperform competitors and attract talent.

  2. Communicate your personal branding efforts to employees and customers and encourage them to be a part of it.

  3. Regard personal branding as leadership learning and development to stay consistent.

  4. Develop a catalog of content ideas by connecting with team members and customers, documenting daily insights, and connecting other roles and hobbies to your business.


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