Despite all our differences, one of the things that links all entrepreneurs together is that we're all busy. Very busy. Even during our down time, it's hard not to think about all the things we "should be doing."
The amount of work you already need to get done at your own business often makes it hard to even think about working on a side hustle. Some may even feel like they'd be cheating on their company by working on one.
Yet, there's one side hustle every entrepreneur should be actively building: their personal brand. Here's why, and how to get started.
Why should you invest in a personal brand?
1. Promoting your company.
By building a strong, recognizable personal brand, your company will also receive exposure. Oftentimes, people are more receptive and open to taking advice from a human face than a faceless logo. This is why it's easier to land speaking gigs, columnist spots, podcast interviews, book deals and more as an individual than it is as a company. Essentially, the bigger your personal brand becomes, the more brand awareness your business will receive in turn.
2. It'll always be there.
Companies come and go. Whether you plan to sell your startup one day, pass your small business on to a family member, or are forced to close your doors (God forbid), the chances of you eventually parting ways with your current company are high.
The one thing that'll never go away as long as you're alive? You. As long as you're here, your personal brand is as well. No matter what direction you plan to go, your personal brand can always follow along, making it a worthwhile, long-term investment.
3. The ability to network.
Another benefit to developing a personal brand is how easy it is to network with other movers and shakers in your industry along the way. When you're creating social media content as an individual or speaking at conferences as an individual, there's something more authentic and personable about it relative to giving them as a company or business.
Again, people trust people over logos. By adding value to others in your industry from publishing content and creating a personal brand, you'll naturally rub shoulders with powerful figures in your field as well.
4. The ability to test.
Building a personal brand also gives you a "testing ground" to experiment with different marketing strategies, advertising tactics and more in a much lower-stakes environment than doing so with your company's marketing budget. By testing these strategies, you can see what works and apply these insights to your company's marketing efforts, too.
5. Supplemental income.
If everything above wasn't enough to convince you, then don't forget that you can also earn some solid cash by building a personal brand. Between paid columnist spots, speaking engagements, book deals, and brand endorsements, your personal brand can give you some extra money to throw around if you play your cards right.
How to Get Started
To start off on the right foot, identify and zero in on a niche somehow affiliated with the company you're building, either closely or loosely. For instance, if you run a coffee shop that uses only locally grown ingredients, your personal brand could be rooted in how important sustainable, locally-sourced food is. If you run an HR startup, your personal brand could be connected to ethics in the workplace or how crucial diversity is to business success.
Next, publish content on social media and work your way up the "thought leadership" ladder. For starters, once you've been consistently posting content online, gather a list of conferences, meetups, and podcasts in your niche and reach out to them in hopes of landing a speaking spot.
You should also be reaching out to blogs and publications in your field in hopes of securing a position as a columnist. From there, you can work your way up to bigger blogs. Then, even bigger ones. Eventually, this work could result in a book deal, a massive social media following, or something even greater.
Lastly, always be networking with others who are on the same path you're on. Stop looking at these individuals as competitors. Instead, see them as potential partners who can help guide you along the way.
Entrepreneurs know firsthand just how turbulent the business world is. One way to safeguard your livelihood from the ebbs and flows of the marketplace (and make some connections and money along the way) is to take on the side hustle of building a personal brand -- and following the tips in this article is a great place to start. Best of luck.