As the world population hits 7 billion, barriers to startup entry decrease, social technology usage multiplies, fragmentation of media consumption continues, and the movement of people and ideas increase -- can small business owners afford not to brand themselves?
"You're a brand if you do and a brand if you don't," according to Los Angeles-based personal branding consultant Kimberly Bordonaro.
Gen-Y workplace and career expert, Dan Schawbel agrees. "All small business owners should develop their own brands so they can leverage them to build trust with customers, create new alliances and generate new business," said Schawbel.
"If a small business owner doesn't have a strong brand and their company fails, then they fail with it. Your personal brand is transferable from one company to the next and serves as your best protection against business factors you can't control."
The Power of a Personal Brand
As a small business owner your personal brand impacts all areas of your business -- how you convey who you are, what you value and what you do.
Today, we operate in a brave new world where Google search results impact your company's reputation, social media is the great unequalizer, and unprecedented consumer access marks the era of a growing divide between the brand haves and brand have-nots.
There's a good chance that if you're not controlling your personal brand someone else is.
Simple Ways to Develop a Personal Brand
Robert Greene, author of international best seller The 48 Laws of Power suggests that you must "be the master of your own image rather than letting others define if for you."
So, how can you reclaim brand control and be the master of your business image?
Four of the nation's top personal branding experts reveal how every small business owner can grow a thriving personal brand:
Kimberly Bordonaro, President at Kimberly Bordonaro Personal Branding
"You already have a personal brand, whether you are aware of it or not. It's how people perceive you. This moves the question away from if you really need to develop a personal brand towards whether or not you have defined your personal brand."
Shauna Mackenzie, Principal at Mark'd -- Personal Branding Studio
"These days, business is often a likeability contest. We invest in people we know and like. If you can effectively capitalize on your personal brand, you can make more money simply by being more you."
Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner at Millennial Branding, LLC
"Your personal brand is transferable from one company to the next and serves as your best protection against business factors you can't control."
Melissa Cassera, CEO at Cassera Communications
"A small business without a personality is like a party with no cake. Developing a personal brand injects personality into your business, making it interesting and memorable. In today's fast-paced, social media savvy world, it's a detriment not having a personal brand. People don't want to connect with a logo or a website, they want to connect with a name and a face."