Leverage Your Small Business ‘Weakness’ to Build a Personal Brand

Learn how to create value through personal branding.

I have often been teased for being brainy and intellectualizing personal problems. I tend to think more than feel. I rationalize more than empathize. I am INTP — an Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving person; one of sixteen Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality types.

I have never gone so far as to try to hide my smarts but I certainly have often seen it as a weakness instead of a strength. Like it’s something to be managed instead of something to be exploited.

 

Creating Value Through Personal Branding

Recently in my 10ThousandFeet, coaching and mastermind program, participants completed Onlyness Inventories. Onlyness is a concept from Nilofer Merchant’s book, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era, and she uses it to talk about the unique angle that each of us bring to the work that we do.

Merchant explains,

“The first step to unlocking talent in the #SocialEra is celebrating something I’ve termed onlyness. Onlyness is that thing that only that one individual can bring to a situation. It includes the journey and passions of each human. Onlyness is fundamentally about honoring each person: first as we view ourselves and second as we are valued. Each of us is standing in a spot that no one else occupies. That unique point of view is born of our accumulated experience, perspective, and vision. Some of those experiences are not as “perfect” as we might want, but even those experiences are a source for what you create.”

From my perspective, the concept of Onlyness can also apply to brands. The most memorable brands get really good at using what makes them unique to deliver additional value to their customers. And this often means focusing on what has become a perceived weakness and turning it into a genuine asset. They exploit it.

Merchant discusses this concept and explains how your brand is the exhaust fume, not the engine:

Your brand is the exhaust created by the engine of your life. It is a by-product of what happens as you share what you are creating, and with whom you are creating.

So, if your engine is running on something–no matter how quirky it might be–and that’s not a key piece of what you’re putting out into the world (i.e. what’s representing you, what’s acting as a channel for the value you’re creating) you’re missing a big opportunity.

Don’t try to engineer a brand. Reverse-engineer a brand that supports your unique way of creating value.

For example, my brand leverages my habit of intellectualizing and rationalizing. It sets my brand apart from others that leverage fun and glamor or spirituality and poeticism. But its these unique strengths that allow each of these individuals to deliver more value than they would if they were traveling down the middle of the road. And they are each things that could be perceived as weaknesses, if not blatantly built into the very core of each business.

 

The Myth of “Right” Branding

There’s a perception that there are certain “right” ways to create a brand or build the persona of your business. Whether you’ve bought into an image that ultra-professional, glam, corporate, spiritual, new age, or quirky, if the image of your business doesn’t spring from what you’re bringing to the table through your business’s unique skills, strengths, and passions, the resulting disconnect can drain you dry. Financially and energetically.

Your Onlyness helps you build a business model that really works. It informs your sales copy, your company culture, and your sales process. But, bottom line, it helps you and your business do what it does best.

As I mentioned earlier, often that thing businesses are trying to hide, manage, or battle is the key to infusing Onlyness into their brand, business model, and sales process. It’s the thing they assume is keeping them from doing more, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Stop fighting it, start leveraging it.

If you’ve be struggling with how to manage a certain aspect of your personality or something that your business doesn’t do as well as you think it should, what would happen if you decided to highlight it? Harness it?

 

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