The world of business needs more librarians
Name of business: Kathy Ennis, your brand is you
Creator: Kathy Ennis
Years in business: Since 2001
Specialty: Business mentor and trainer with a specialism in personal branding and visual communication
Reach: National, focused on South East
Key to success: Learning, testing and doing more of the stuff that works
Biggest challenge for businesses: Implementation
Greatest asset: Ability to search for answers
I met Kathy when she was delivering a presentation on personal branding in email marketing. Her image makes her easy to recall that “she was the one who delivered it.
She did make an impact – with her personal branding. The effect was that I wanted to know more about her business, plans and how I could possibly be of use. We set up a follow up 1-2-1 meeting to do just that.
This is exactly what each brand hopes for, when they meet their peers or prospective clients at an event.
Personal brand expert
Kathy Ennis works with microbusinesses and ‘over 50s’ who consider creating a business for the first time. She champions business education, development and self-awareness – she helps people discover whether business is their route to happiness. If it is, she helps them identify and leverage their personal brand within it.
However, she hasn’t always been a personal brand expert. This wasn’t a career she dreamed of when she was at school. She’s quite frank about this: “When I left school I had no idea what I wanted to do.” She got a degree in the history of film only to hit months of unemployment when she left university. Then she became a library assistant and things started falling into place.
Professional development, the ability to search for information and find out what people are really looking for – all got embedded into her professional self. But it wasn’t “it”, not yet. Only years later, when her husband presented her with the gift of colour analysis for a birthday, did she really came into her own. This one consultation changed the way she viewed herself and everything around her.
Colour yourself beautiful
“It was not about fashion, but about what am I saying if I wear this?” – says Kathy. This experience sparked an interest with visual communication and impression management, which triggered her evolution into a personal branding professional. Her goal is to share this feeling of confidence with others in business. And this awareness is crucial, especially in the world of microbusiness, who – in order to survive on the market – need to claim ownership of themselves.
Entrepreneurship is a mindset
“We need to give people and business the option to discover what they want. And fail. Then explain why it went wrong. This is the only way to learn.” – Kathy explains. It’s not only about having to create a business, if you really want to start a new venture, you need to do it for the right reasons. If you try it and decide you actually want to get back into employment, because what you really want is a sense of security, that’s ok. You are not a lesser person because of it. This situation has nothing to do with failure.
Learn, test, improve, repeat
But when you have a passion and want to turn it into a business and you have never done that before, you will do well to remember this quote form Kathy: “You know your stuff. What you do not know is business.” Do not let that stop you, just learn as much as you can about business and be prepared for the 80/20 rule at the outset; the need to focus move the form delivering your service or product to promoting it. Create assets and then focus on how to distribute them to your audience. It’s easier if you develop yourself as a brand.
To become a brand, you need to find you true motivation and build on it. Then you’ll be able to create and project the right image.
Be a good brand, if you can
If you are motivated by money, that’s ok. Just remember that entrepreneurs are these strange people at the forefront of business development who pay themselves last. Kathy and I agree, that flogging goods perhaps brings faster return-on-investment (ROI), but in reality there is only so much you can make this way. However, when you are a brand, a business on a mission, the warm-up may take longer, but ultimately it leads to better and greater things – for you and for your clients; it brings better value to all.
Why Kathy Ennis is my brand hero
She’s an example of how effective having a memorable personal brand can be. She helps people assess whether business is the right route for them as many small and micro businesses are being created not out of choice, but necessity, due to redundancy or early retirement. But when they decide ‘yes’, she gives them the tools and support to grow.
Yes, aspiring entrepreneurs can find a plethora of business information and how-to’s online. Perhaps even too much. Choosing the right ones takes time and then there is this little matter of implementation. In the PG (pre-Google) era, libraries were the hubs of information. Even though each housed a finite number of volumes, each had an advantage over Google today – a librarian, a person who willingly gave advice on implementation and sometimes even supervised the progress. Kathy Ennis is a modern day business librarian.
My lessons from this conversation:
– best lessons come from situations when things don’t go according to the plan, so do not let them pass unobserved
– not everyone has to go into business, it’s ok to want to have a job, as long as it makes you happy
– business can be fun, but people can make a lot of hard work for themselves, so systemise, productise and delegate
Further reading from Kathy:
Malcolm Gladwell, Blink (a wonderful book about the power of first impressions)
Robert Craven, Grow Your Service Firm (a great ‘how to’ book for the service-based business, one of the few that is not focused on production and manufacturing)
Elements of a strong brand:
consistency and congruency with the personal brand of its creator
learning from mistakes
“It pays to plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark!”
Find out more about Kathy and personal branding:
– visit her website kathyennis.co.uk
– her LinkedIn profile
– Facebook page KathyEnnisYourBrandIsYou
– and Twitter @kathyennis
P.S. We also talked about the role of video, emojis and emoticons and how the world is entering a new hieroglyphic era, but that’s a subject for an additional article, so I am just going to hint it here. 🙂
* Kathy’s favourite number – the number of times James Dyson did not invent his famous hoover; had he given up at the attempt no 10, he may have been known just for the improved barrel, or not even known as an inventor at all.