By Liezel van der Westhuizen

You’re up and running as a sole trader, have opened a small business or are putting in the hours in your entrepreneurial niche. But how is your PERSONAL BRAND faring out there in the marketplace? Here, I bust a few misconceptions to help make you that much more influential.


Many newbies to the personal branding space rush in with a logo, mission statement, vision, business plan and so much more before they’ve had a chance to establish where their main talents and passions lie. So misconception number one about PERSONAL BRANDING is that you don’t need to establish it in its entirety on day 1. Instead, it is advisable to build your brand up slowly over time and to focus its messaging, niche and actions so that they bring about credibility, trust and a distinctive brand identity among your target audience in the long term.

Another mistake the ambitious and impatient make, it to think their PERSONAL BRAND is only about them. To be successful within your chosen profession, you actually need to be thinking about the problems that your target audience are facing and how you can solve them to make their lives easier and, indeed, more productive. Self-centeredness can turn off the very folk you’re trying to woo; on the other hand, being authentic and real will keep them coming back to read more or use more of what you’re offering. Also, in serving others, both your influence and your visibility will grow; as your audience grows and more people endorse you, so your personal brand will develop more clout. It all starts by offering something that those who follow you absolutely can’t do without.

Another misconception I frequently encounter is that what matters most about your PERSONAL BRAND is how you dress and appear to the world – on email, in your blog, in photo shoots or on your website. In fact, there’s much more to it that comes from a much deeper place of uncovering your true value and purpose in the world. Remember: there’s no one quite like you and your uniqueness is, in fact, your superpower. So don’t waste time trying to be a people pleaser; it’s more important to listen to that little voice inside and to build on that gut feeling to create your own exclusive empire.

You also shouldn’t fret if you feel that your personal brand has suffered some damage along the way. It will certainly help to do a little constructive reading, to go for a few life-coaching or personal branding sessions and to update yourself on relevant industry courses. In resuscitating your PERSONAL BRAND, it can be beneficial to embrace what’s gone wrong – just as big corporate brands do from time to time – by making a statement about what you hope to improve on and are working towards in the future. Our challenges are what change us, so incorporate these into your story in a way that is appealing and interesting to others.

Lastly, as you set about streamlining your PERSONAL BRAND, remember it’s not about becoming a celebrity in a superfluous “Kardashian” sense – but rather about being available and making a trusted name for yourself among the folk you most want to influence. You can do it!