Knowledge Economy: ”An economy in which growth is dependent on the quantity, quality, and accessibility of the information available, rather than the means of production.” – Oxford Languages
Today, knowledge entrepreneurs are a critical component of the knowledge economy. Encompassing leaders across all industries, knowledge entrepreneurship describes individuals who can identify an issue, create a process to solve that issue, and find a way create a business and monetize their genius.
Knowledge entrepreneurship is not easy. I love it, I’ve been doing it for more than a decade now, but it’s hard. It requires years of building your reputation, your client base, and your audience.
In order to achieve long-term, sustainable growth as a knowledge entrepreneur, you need a strong personal brand. There’s just no way around it. Your personal brand is the differentiator for success – the difference between failure and success, struggling and thriving.
When we talk about business, we know that the baseline is a good product or service. You have to be great at what you do, especially when your business is knowledge-based. But there are plenty of expert consultants or coaches in the world, who are great at what they do. But without a strong personal brand, the up-hill battle for authentic growth becomes a whole lot steeper.
So let’s talk about it. What is a personal brand, and why is it so critical for a knowledge entrepreneur?
Your personal brand is your biggest form of currency
I have a whole article on personal branding for business (LINK), but at its core, personal branding is the intentional capitalization of our natural inclination to craft performance identities. Your personal brand is an authentic representation of your values and your knowledge expertise, built as way to build a consistent connection with your audience.
A successful personal brand is about service, and how you can add value to other people’s lives. And if your business is knowledge-based, then your personal brand is more than just your calling card. It’s a distillation of your process, and how it can serve other people.
Your personal brand is critical because in order for you to find success as a knowledge entrepreneur, you need to be respected intellectually. People need to buy into what you’re saying. You need to be recognized as an expert by both potential clients and your peers in the industry. That kind of long-term, authentic social validation stems from a strong, consistent personal brand.
Your personal brand is the difference between chasing opportunity, and opportunity chasing you
By building a personal brand, you as an entrepreneur are creating a system of trust and authenticity that leads to a business with referrals. Referred clients have higher success rates – they’re naturally more aligned with your ideal client base, because they enter your network through previously successful clients. As you build your brand and start to see longer-lasting relationships with your client base, your work will start to shift. You’ll be able to spend less time pursuing work, because the work will come to you.
With a strong personal brand and an engaged client base, you become a recognizable name that people want to work with, instead of having to chase down new work because people don’t know who you are.
That’s not to say you get to stop pursuing opportunities – that never stops. But you’ll be able to find the right clients for you, and make sure that the projects you choose are best aligned with your purpose. It provides you the opportunity to build a business based on trust, through authenticating what you’re saying, and showing that you’re worthy of respect.
What happens when you build a successful brand as a knowledge entrepreneur
Think about really successful personal brands: Oprah. Gary V. Toni Robbins. Marie Forleo. Joe Rogan. Regardless of whether or not they’re your cup of tea, you know who they are. They are constantly proving their worth, and creating things that people want. They give their audience free, valuable content, which they can then use to market and showcase their own value as a knowledge expert. They know who they are, and they know how to monetize it.
In order for you to find success as a knowledge entrepreneur, you need to be respected intellectually.
A successful personal brand is grounded in who you are and what you carry through everything that you do. It’s authentic, consistent, and based in the heart of your vocation. It takes time to build, and years to establish long-term trust.
Once you find your personal brand and use it to communicate with and serve your audience, you create sustainability over the course of your career.
Think of it this way – it’s hard to build an audience off of one product is much harder than building an audience around a person. If you can build an audience around your personal brand, then you’ll be able to have multiple successful launches and products throughout your career. Your personal brand will translate to monetizing your unique gift.
At the end of the day, knowledge brands are built on trust.
When you go on Amazon and search for the product that you want, the first thing you do is look at the price, the reviews, and the brand. You want to know if the brand is recognizable and trusted. You want to see if the reviews corroborate what the product promises to do. And you want to make sure that the price is worth paying.
Think of your personal brand as all those things, wrapped into one. It creates an ecosystem of trust and value for your clients, so they know that you’re worth it. It opens the door for authentic, long-term growth.
So embrace it. Use your personal brand to stand out from the crowd. Be intentional, be authentic, and remember that it’s about what you can do for others. People will notice. And if you keep showing up with consistent personal brand, then people will do more than notice you – they’ll remember you, too.