executive branding

How to Become an Entrepreneur Within Your Organization

Entrepreneurship is a mindset. An entrepreneur is someone who embraces critical thinking, innovation, and change rather than waiting to adapt to changes as they occur. Entrepreneurs who operate within an organization are looking to add value; they are open to advice from mentors and managers and proactively seek innovative solutions. They take full control of their career paths. Strong business leaders understand that human capital is the most valuable asset they have, even though it often does not show on the balance sheet, and that the best employees are the ones who are proactive, not reactive. These are the people who make the clients and customers happy.    

The entrepreneurial spirit is not inherently at odds with an established organizational structure, but new ideas, by definition, shake up the status quo. Even though organizations across industries are calling for innovative, out of the box thinking from employees, would-be entrepreneurs do face a certain set of risks. How can entrepreneurial-minded employees working from the inside act on their initiative while minimizing risk to themselves and their organizations? 

It is not enough to simply have a good idea; you must also have drive. Without this startup energy, you will not feel sufficiently motivated to venture into the unknown. Curiosity and problem solving skills will get you halfway, but if you do not personally care about the outcome then the risk factor will overshadow the possibilities.   

The next step is establishing what you are willing to invest to take this step and, beyond that, what you can afford to lose if things do not pan out as you hoped. Traditional risk calculations would otherwise nip conceptual exploration in the bud. With an uncertain expected return, investment is less than prudent. But, as they say, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” You have to readjust your mindset to embrace uncertainty before you even begin. 

The landscape looks very different for external entrepreneurs. While they calculate time and money risks, internal entrepreneurs are wagering their ambition against the social capital already accrued within their organization. The most significant risk criteria to consider is their relationship capital and social standing and these risks must be addressed in much the same way as traditional entrepreneurs manage financial risk and investments. 

Now that you have embraced your entrepreneurial spirit and calculated the risks, you need to look around and figure out who you want by your side. Internal entrepreneurs benefit greatly from employee partnerships and supportive bosses, or at least indulgently passive superiors. Your evolving ideas require emotional, physical, and sometimes political support as well as a potential marketplace for your efforts.  

Once you’ve given yourself the green light and internal network to pursue your passion, it is time to act. Remain flexible and always learn from the outcomes of your actions, readjusting before taking your next step. Learn how to proceed with relatively low-risk steps, using your available network as a support and sounding board. In this way, you can bring energy and continuous improvement to your organization, thereby establishing yourself as an invaluable resource and entrepreneur, all while remaining within the supportive structure of your organization.

How Personal Branding Can Help You Negotiate Your Salary or Next Promotion

In today’s job market, standing out in a crowd is particularly vital to your career. Establishing and enhancing your personal brand will help you develop a reputation for professionalism, integrity, and expertise that will open doors to getting hired, promoted, and negotiating your salary. If you work for a larger corporation and think that your personal brand is in some way redundant, think again. Due to technology and the growing distrust of corporations, personal brands have become easier to develop, nimbler, and more trusted than their corporate counterparts. Using your personal brand to further company related goals is an excellent way to find new clients, establish your reputation, and earn a promotion. Here are some ways that your personal brand can help you earn that promotion or negotiate your salary. 

Use your personal brand to find new clients and solidify relationships with existing clients. New clients will be drawn to the company by your personal brand which is more, well, personal than the corporate brand; its accessibility will bring in new clients who will have a better impression of the company overall as a result. If client relationships play any role at all in your position, then having a strong personal brand will improve them. And the loyalty of clients you already have a personal relationship with through your brand will increase as you advance to positions of greater responsibility within the company. A large network of loyal contacts radically increases your capacity to generate more business and reach even more clients. 

Having a large, loyal network of contacts gives you, and the company, access to an even larger collective of human resources. The relationships you cultivate through your personal brand will not be limited to clients or customers. If your company needs to find new manufacturing or an independent contractor, you can reach out to your web of contacts; this network is a valuable resource, especially if your new role involves managing external relationships.

Another way that your personal brand can be leveraged to negotiate a salary or earn a promotion is by increasing your company’s brand impact. If you personally have a network of several thousand followers, then every post from your company that you share through your personal network will expand their reach by several thousand. That expanded reach comes with an objective monetary value that you can leverage when negotiating your salary. 

And don’t forget, your personal brand can be used to establish a competitive baseline. The potential loss of the resources, contacts, and expertise associated with your personal brand is a very real factor in your value to the company. Though you should not use this point directly when in negotiation with employers, as it could be perceived as a threat. Let the strength of your brand speak for itself. Employers know that if you decide to leave your current company and migrate to one of the company’s competitors, your personal brand will go with you.  

How to Brand Yourself as a Thought Leader in Your Organization

A thought leader is a person who generates new ideas and drives innovation in a given industry. Thought leaders are objectively valuable human resource commodities for any organization, well-respected, charismatic, and revered by customers and peers within the industry. Becoming a thought leader is a legitimately desirable goal for any professional. But you cannot simply wish it to make it so. To position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, you must navigate a branding process to authentically bring yourself to that level. In short, you need to engage in an ongoing series of personal branding strategies, re-define your skill sets, and dramatically and continually expand your professional network. In addition to all of that, you must constantly generate new ideas and improve your name recognition both in and out of your target industry.