I recently talked to a potential client and explained that I work with small business owners. His immediate response was: Yes, I'm a small business owner!
But he was not. At least not the way I see it.
So I decided to write this post, to explain to you AND myself what the big difference between a startup founder and a small business owner is. There are many differences, of course, but there's just one that makes all the difference.
What does the small business owner have that the startup founder doesn't?
Usually, when you know it's gonna rain, you get your umbrella, right? Well, that is what the small business owner has - a cohesive brand. It's their umbrella, the thing that protects them from the rain - the noise, the hardships of selling, and so on.
So the small business owner has a brand under which all of his or her products lie. For example, if her brand says "marketing with purpose and personality", she won't be making any products on construction or how to raise a child. She'll be telling you all about marketing and how you can do it: a) your way and b) with purpose. *wink*
On the other hand, sometime someone decided that startup founders are not to have personal brands. I don't know who and what and WHY, but there are so few startup founders who have their own brands that I can probably count them on one hand.
(I am NOT talking about the startup's brand, but the founder's brand.)
The result: Scattered Marketing.
I'll be writing about the difference between scattered marketing and holistic marketing soon, but in this case it's going out in the rain without an umbrella. When you have a brand, all of your products are under it... unless you change or expand it. When you don't have a brand, you need to market each and every product separately, which means starting from square one. No previous customers, no client base or mailing list, no nothing.
Isn't that a drag?
I used to do scattered marketing. I only recently discovered my brand, and before I did, the only thing that helped was my reputation. But I'd built it with my crazy tendency to get in people's faces. What if you're not that kind of person?!
And when I say brand, I don't mean the way my site looks or the fonts I use. Yes, this is a big part of branding, but it's not all of it.
The bigger part of branding is the WHY (you're doing this) and WHAT (you're doing).
And while small business owners carry their umbrella everywhere, startup founders have to make new umbrellas for every single product! Isn't that a waste, though? I've seen some of you struggle to market your products, especially if you're the kind of person who makes product after product, and at one point it's just exhausting.
If you have a reliable launching system, then you're fine, but few founders have those as they take a lot of time and painful trial and error.
I have talked about the benefits of personal branding before, but I'll say it again:
Having a personal brand will hugely increase your chances of success. (tweet it)
Whether it's your name or a clever phrase, it will be your umbrella in the rain, which will protect ALL of your future products. Granted, you might not want to create similar products but spread your wings, but that's the price of branding, baby.
There are so many variables in business and starting up and selling that most of the time you're almost hoping to get *lucky*. But you and I both know that luck is being in the right place at the right time. Well, in this case, luck is being in the right place at the right time WITH YOUR UMBRELLA. Because it's always raining.
Did you bring your umbrella today? Therein lies all the difference.