I lived the life of an entrepreneur (genetic-testing startup) a few years ago. The experience left me wiser but, sadly, a billion dollars short of the Zuckerberg, Musk and Bezo billionaire entrepreneur club. Luckily for me and this story, there were lemonade-out-of-lemons moments to make the time a lasting asset.
The experience affirmed, for instance, something I knew but didn’t always verbalize: specifically, the similarities between brand strategy and being a successful entrepreneur. The success of each I believe is grounded in five similar tenets.
The first is vision. Successful entrepreneurs and brand strategists are always on the lookout for opportunity in markets. Each looks at today to see what is possible for tomorrow and uses business acumen and intuition to make a plan for growth.
The second similarity is a focus on relevant differences. Strategists and entrepreneurs know sales and brand loyalty growth require distinguishing what you sell from what your competitors do. Entrepreneurs seeking funding know too that the first question investors will ask is “How are you different?” Failing to answer means there will be no second question and no funding. The value should be ownable (no other company can say the same thing) and voiced consistently across all touch points.
The third tenet is customer focus. Brand strategy and good entrepreneurs look at problems through the eyes of the customer to start and sustain conversations and sales.
Urgency is the next of similarities. It’s critical in entrepreneurship and often not a high priority in everyday business. Funding isn’t finite in the entrepreneurial world. Investors may give a fledgling business 18 months to show a profit. Brand strategy can bring that “clock is ticking” energy and drive established brands to hit key marketing KPIs.
The final and most important of the tenets is a bottom-line mindset. Making money is the goal for brand strategy as it is for entrepreneurs. Success in competitive, crowded marketplaces means walking a fine line between dreaming and getting lost in your dreams. Discipline is a must because the bottom line needs to be, well, the bottom-line of all marketing efforts.
So when you’re ready for next level growth, think like an entrepreneur and put an experienced brand strategy team to work for your business. The outcome will be a results-oriented plan of action and, who knows, maybe even a Zuckerberg-like success.
Smith Kroeger is a full-service advertising agency grounded in business. We offer proven, imaginative, ROI-driven brand strategy services to clients big and small in a variety of industries.