[3 of 8] Ancient Principles for the 21st Century Entrepreneur

3 of 8

Building a Personal Brand that Lasts

Into the Wilder{ness}with the children of Israel IV

“… During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.” Deuteronomy 29:5, The Holy Bible

If the experience of being in the wilderness were like the entrepreneur start-up journey, what would the never worn-out clothes be?

To answer this question, we need to look at some characteristics of the never worn-out clothes especially its never-worn-out nature.
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First, clothes are for the external or for the outside world to see. As an entrepreneur, “clothes” could mean the image we put before others. In other words, it is the personal branding that we present before the world. Coca-Cola, Disney, MacDonald’s, Apple, Facebook just are some of the examples of popular brand names that are of this nature. Many started as personal brands and today these are the representation of great corporations and platform that nurture many other brands, yet retaining the iconic original personal brand with a niche.

What can we learn from here? Personal branding can be last if this is established and set right at the early stage. The entrepreneur’s start-up stage is crucial for the establishment of this personal branding. Whether you like it or not, a personal brand sticks with you for the longest time. So, let us examine further what a personal branding entails.

Debates have always been on ‘nature’ or ‘nurture’ and how these two influenced a person’s development and success rate; this debate has made these two processes rather incompatible to some extent. However, when we apply ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ in building personal branding, they need not be incompatible options. Rather, personal branding should be a combination of the two and it becomes a formula like this:


‘Nature’ is what was given since birth or inherited from your parents. In business sense, it could also mean your business DNA that you inherited from your mentors or the influencers in your life. ‘Nature’ also includes your basic personality and natural inclination towards a field or an expertise in an industry. Without this inclination, you would not feel drawn to this field or industry. To some, it could mean a calling in life or the giftedness they recognized; it could mean also the life opportunities opened for them.

Next, ‘nurture’ is what you gathered and get yourself trained up in on top of what was given (nature). You may have a family of musicians, but if you do not cultivate your life musically, your family history does not form part of your personal brand. ‘Nurture’ includes your knowledge, credentials, working experience and connections, or things that you have been building for years.

Second, personal branding is not fashion. No fashion can last, trends come and go, fashion by nature is meant to last only for a short time. Some fashionable style might be able to make a comeback, but the fact is that no fashion styles are everlasting. So, when you are determining your own branding, be careful not to just do what is trendy; trendy stuffs last only for a moment, if you want a lasting success, a non-fashionable idea is better than a fashionable one. To discover the seed is important than the fruit, as the seed the where the continuing power being stored. For example, the success of one social media is not its brand name, but it is the user experience they offer. Without deciphering the seed (user experience) from its fruit (successful brand name), it is not going to be useful to land you into the success you desire.

Third, personal branding cannot be purchased. Building a personal brand is not an easy task, it takes observations and understanding for an extended period. If you are considering buying a brand name and make it your own, the chance of it having the same tenacity of the original brand is rare. This strategy seems to work only for beating competition, but it can never be your personal branding strategy.

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The originality of a brand is one that stems from something that money cannot buy. Money cannot buy passion, creativity, character, integrity, experience, credibility and resilience. A personal brand that are built upon these qualities are one that lasts. It takes a careful observation and adjustments to reach its full potential.

Last but not the least, be sure to build a personal brand that is expandable or that allows future expansion. By nature, anything personal or unique will also set its limitation. A niche is good for a start-up, but if it is narrow and rigid, then it is not expandable. For example, you are in a training business, you might have a niche on communication, your personal branding ought to be above the niche that you might expand to the field of social entrepreneurship later.

So, if you position your personal branding on your skill sets rather than special field, you are making your personal branding expandable. It is always good to ride on skills rather than filed or industry, because after sometime when you have exhausted the specific avenue, you can always expand your training business into the more profitable market without sweat.

Overall, it is a delicate balance between being a generalist or having a careful-thought-through personal brand. To work within a niche and yet not limited by it is a tricky business; however, it is possible if you pay attention during the start-up stage of your entrepreneurship journey, look out for those elements that are persistently staying strong and keeping you successful. Remember you are building a personal brand or brand that lasts and it is also the “never-worn-out clothes in the wilderness”.

After all the internal building of discipline of the small things (Manna), now it is time for the external – a personal brand that lasts. After discovering the personal brand, you ought to establish something that keep you constantly on the go and that is to wear your “never-worn-out shoes”.

In the next article, the hidden principles relating to the “never-worn-out shoes” will be explored, stay tuned!

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