What I learnt this week… build the business of YOU

Hi there, can I ask you a question? How old were you when you started your business (or your first business)?

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the benefits and challenges of starting your own business when you’re young. When you’re embarking on the self-employed journey straight after school or even after your first job, you don’t have the 10+ 20+ 30+ years of experience under your belt like many others. If you haven’t been doing it for decades, it might be more challenging to be taken seriously and respected for your knowledge.

On the other hand, I see lots of inspiring young entrepreneurs building successful businesses while studying at Uni or straight after. They have tons of great ideas, lots of energy and insane drive. I love that!

Maybe it’s just my self-limiting beliefs, but I sometimes struggle with taking myself seriously. Standing next to seasoned business owners, I struggle to see myself as an expert, business owner or even an entrepreneur. Have you ever felt the same way?

I’m really glad that I have a wonderful community of supportive people around me who give me reassurance me when I need it.

How to be taken seriously when you’re a young entrepreneur?

Working mostly with people older than me (most of the freelancers/business owners I know are 35+ even though there are some exceptions and I’ve met some truly inspiring entrepreneurs younger than me), I often feel that I’m behind. They have more content, they have more case studies, they have written books and created online courses and so on.

Every now and then I feel impatient about my progress and want to do everything I see my peers and idols do – NOW! In moments like that, I need to stop and remember that I’m not there yet, that I’m just starting on my journey and that it might take a few years to get there.

And that’s OK!

I’ve only been on my entrepreneurial journey for 2 years (and prior to that I had only 5 years of working experience, including projects I have done while studying) and I can’t compare myself with people who have been working/running their businesses for 10/20/30 years.

Patience and self-awareness are the two most important virtues of an entrepreneur. Gary Vaynerchuk was right! And I need to remind myself this all the time.

When did you start your first business? Was is straight out of school or did it take a few years in the corporate world to want to build something on your own?

Are we creating something new or simply stealing and repurposing?

Sometimes, I feel really nervous that nothing I create, teach, preach and know is actually from my own head. Am I unique or do I simply steal other people’s ideas?

I consume lots of content and over time I’ve started implementing a lot of lessons and core learnings from others. Usually, I can even point out where I’ve ‘stolen’ this or that. Is this stealing or is it okay to learn from other and then transform this knowledge into something new?

I always say that I’m not a ‘front-line’ creative kind of person. I can’t invent new ideas and create ground-breaking campaigns that no one has thought of before. That’s not me! But I’m good in learning from people like that, drawing inspiration from their inventions and applying them to different projects/brands/circumstances. Is it stealing? I hope not!

What makes me unique is the combination of ideas and lessons that I’m repurposing for myself and my clients – I guess. What do you think?

My story? My uniqueness?

This leads me to my last point – the importance of building a strong personal brand.

Lately, I’ve been meeting many people who have multiple business ideas and don’t know where to start and how to promote themselves and their varied ventures (especially as many of them have completely different audiences).

When I started my business, I had no idea what to call it, I was stuck when it came to coming up with brand names. So, I simply used my name and the area I work in – Lenka Koppova, Social Media Consultant. Occasionally, I was using my initials and called myself LK Social Media, but mostly I was using just my name. And it worked magic!

I’m lucky that my name is unusual (in the UK, back home in the Czech Republic I wouldn’t be able to stand out with this name) and mixed with my unique personality, I’ve become known in a short space of time.

What did I do?

It’s a noisy world out there and it’s more important to be different than to be just better than others (I’m not sure who was the first one to say this, but I know that Chris Ducker uses this quote a lot).

I’m not better than my colleagues and/or competitors, but I am different and I’m not afraid to show my real self. To be honest, I’m pretty bad at pretending and I often say that brutally honest is my second nature. No bullshit, no sugarcoating, straight to the point. That’s me.

And people seem to remember (and like) that!

At least some of them and that’s enough! I don’t need everyone to like me, I don’t want to be vanilla and not insult anyone (but also doesn’t excite anyone in particular). I want to be a more memorable flavour, but that also means that not everyone will like it.

How about you? Are you vanilla or one of those really deliciously weird Ben & Jerry’s ice creams?

Book Corner

I’m absolutely in love with this week’s book. It’s the Rise of the Youpreneur from Chris Ducker and it’s more than relevant for this roundup.

I’ve been listening to Chris’s podcast for a while now after I saw him speaking at MarketEd Live conference last year. He’s the perfect example of a personal brand and how it could be leveraged and monetised.

He’s also a huge advocate of being yourself, even if that means that it will offend some people! It’s good! You will never please everyone, nor should you try. You should try to attract people who will love you for you, the way you are!

One of his key messages and quotes is:

“Market like a magnet. Attract the best, repel the rest.”

And it’s 100% on point!

The majority of small business owners I meet struggle to find the answer to the common question: ‘Who’s your target market?’. Their answer often is ‘everyone’ and that’s the biggest mistake.

Let’s imagine you own a bakery and you make a killer chocolate cake, there will still be people who don’t like it – it’s too rich, it’s too moist, it tastes too much like a chocolate, I don’t like cake – are just a few examples of complaints you might hear. Does it mean that your cake isn’t good and you’re not a good baker? Hell no!

It simply means that some people don’t like chocolate or cake (hard to believe, I know). It has nothing to do with you or with your product. So everyone definitely isn’t you market. People who love rich and moist chocolate cake are! And you need to make sure they know about you and LOVE you! Get it?

Anyway, I highly recommend you having a look at Chris’ latest book, especially if you’d like to build a futureproof business!