When I turned 30, I'm going to be honest -- I panicked.
I hadn't achieved anything close to my full potential. I had so many things I wanted to accomplish, and it felt like I was waking up from years as a 20-something drifter who was content to settle instead of hustle.
What saved me was embarking on a mission to build my personal brand. Through that effort, I realized that one of the best things a Millennial entrepreneur can do is go through the extremely self-reflective exercise of personal branding -- and now, I don't recommend that any Millennial entrepreneur live without it.
Here are 3 reasons why it's absolutely, 100 percent essential to have a personal brand if you're a Millennial entrepreneur:
1. Your personal mission, vision and values matter to your organization. A lot.
Smart entrepreneurs know that their businesses will only progress as fast as they will. And, if you don't really know what your personal mission is, how can you hope to lead the shared mission of an organization?
Just going through the paces of choosing a mission, dreaming up a vision and arranging my values gave me enormous clarity about who I am and where I want to go.
It was shocking to me how many thoughts I had jumbling around in my head, that -- when neatly arranged in a system and on paper -- came together to form a cohesive and actionable way forward.
2. Authority marketing is one the few ways left for anyone to break through the internet clutter.
Try creatively blogging about the obscure device you manufacture. Then tell me how many of your buyers are thumbing through your blogs on a Saturday night, glass of wine in hand, entertained and educated by those words of wisdom.
Your buyers desperately want to be entertained and educated. The problem is that your boring company doesn't have the freedom and flexibility to deliver on that desire.
Don't feel bad -- most companies fall into that category, unless you're Dollar Shave Club (and even then, the point is that you were amused more by owner Michael Dubin's character than by razors).
As a personal brand, however, you can become the character that your company needs.
Think of Richard Branson, Captain Morgan and the Energizer Bunny. Those are all characters with personalities that people can interact with. If you develop your own character online, people will be much more likely to listen to you, like you, follow you, and otherwise pay attention to you in a brutally noisy world.
3. You don't know what you'll do next, but who you are probably won't change.
We Millennials are notorious for hopping around careers. Even in entrepreneurship, I have friends who are on their 5th startup, and good luck keeping me from launching a new business (my latest just went live last week!).
I have no idea what I'll be doing in 10 years. But I do know who I am (thanks to my personal branding), and that won't change.
You know what else won't change? The decades of writing, designs and videos online that capture who I am, what I know and what I'm capable of.
If I do launch a new company, or if some venture capitalist wants to throw money at me (call me), or if a struggling Fortune company needs a smart, entrepreneurial leader to bring it firmly into the 21st century (let's talk!), they will not only find me online, but they'll be able to get to know me through all of my personal branding work.
That's a heck of an advertisement, and a heck of a differentiator in a very crowded market.
Go work on your personal brand. Now.
Since I've been developing my personal brand, I've been able to truly adopt a growth mindset and learn new things about myself I had never even considered.
Take even an hour every week and start to work on who you are as a brand. I'll tell you how in an upcoming post, and add that link here when it's done.
But for now, just ask yourself, "who am I?" Answering that question will give you the best business advantage that money can't buy.