Essential Qualities of an Entrepreneur: Brand

Essential Qualities of an Entrepreneur: Brand

Posted on: Tuesday, December 20, 2011|Written by: Robert Kiyosaki

In some ways, it’s fitting that I sit down to write about a brand as an essential quality of an entrepreneur this morning. All across the headlines are blazing the news of the death of Kim Jong Il at the age of 70 years old.

Interesting among the more standard news stories about the Kim’s reign — and the devastation it caused his country and his people — is an article in The Wall Street Journal on the mythic nature of Kim created by his propaganda machine.

According to the article, there are two filters through which Kim was viewed.

To his people, Kim is a “peerless leader, master of all knowledge and gifted athlete”— or at least gives the appearance as so — with huge banners and paintings showing his likeness all over the country of North Korea and carefully constructed photo ops and news stories painting him as such. Newscasters, announcing his death on television, we’re in tears as they reported the news.

To the world, Kim is a brutal dictator with a bizarre love of gray jumpsuits. He oversaw a country that declined from a communist regime over decades into one of the poorest and most brutal dictatorships in the world, imprisoning millions, killing untold numbers of his own people, and pushing scores of North Koreans into abject poverty and starvation.

But these are all perceptions, as no one really “knew” Kim. Very few world leaders actually met with him, and his own people only heard his voice once, in 1992, on a broadcast where he said, “Glory to the people’s heroic military.”

Eventually, however, as it does for everyone, the truth gets out. And that brings me to branding.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve briefly shared some thoughts on the essential qualities of an entrepreneur, based out of the book, Midas Touch, by Donald Trump and me.

So far, I’ve written on strength of character and F.O.C.U.S. This week, I want to talk about the importance of a brand.

The Importance of Brand for An Entrepreneur

Many people think a brand is what you make, which is not true. What you make is simply a commodity. A brand is what communicates who you are as a person or a company and informs what you make.

A brand is different than a commodity. For instance, Coca-cola is a brand. Store-“brand” soda is a commodity — not a really a brand. Nobody collects Safeway-brand cola merchandise — and no one builds museums to celebrate the history of Kroger soda. They do for Coke though, because it is a brand — and one that people love.

A brand is important for an entrepreneur because it helps people instantly know what you stand for. For me, my brand is taking complex financial information and making it easy and fun to learn. My company represents that brand, and people trust me and my brand. My brand is authentic.

And that’s why today’s news is so interesting, because it communicates a universal truth about branding.

Kim Jong Il had a brand (we all do to a greater or lesser degree, and many refer to is as a reputation). To us, it’s clear that his brand was a brutal dictator. But we don’t really know, yet, what his brand was in his own country. He worked hard to pass himself off as a great man and leader to be revered and who cared for his people and country against a world out to get them. But I’ll wager that most North Koreans don’t buy that brand. Why? Because the reality of their lives as they starve and face persecution don’t measure up to that brand.

His brand is not authentic. It is a veneer held together by fear. Now that he’s dead, it will most likely unravel. News sources are indicating as much, with most world leaders predicting a huge and possibly violent power struggle on the horizon.

That is an important lesson in branding — your brand must be authentic, or you’ll eventually be found out. You can be successful by some measure with a brand that is not authentic, but eventually that lie will be found out and what you’ve built will come crashing down. Rather than shoot for a period of success by creating a false brand, a true entrepreneur seeks to build a legacy by creating a true brand.

And a true brand comes from doing what you love and building a great company that desires to share that love.

For me, I love to see people’s lives changed by financial education, just as my life was.

My company exists for that sole reason, and it’s reflected in my brand. I don’t need a propaganda machine to communicate that. My actions and the products of my company represent that, my employees live that, and my customers attest to that.

If you plan on being an entrepreneur, as I hope many of you are, I would challenge you to begin the process of self-discovery for both you and your company. Who are you, really? What are you passionate about? What defines you and your company?

Once you have discovered the answers to those questions, build your company around them and live them truly. Only then will you have a true and authentic brand, and only then will people look and you and say, “Yes, I know and love that brand.”

Don’t think you can fake it. Because you can’t. Eventually, everyone’s true brand comes out—just as it will for Kim Jong Il in North Korea.

Advertisements

Essential Qualities of an Entrepreneur: Strength of Character

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about something hopeful I see in America, the rise of young people interested in entrepreneurship (“There’s Hope Yet”). More than ever, the upcoming generation wants to start businesses and pursue their passions by starting companies that will not only take care of them and their family, but also benefit society as a whole. I applaud this.

I recently released my newest book, The Midas Touch: Why Some Entrepreneurs Get Rich and Others Don’t, with my good friend, Donald Trump. This is a book on entrepreneurship for entrepreneurs—something both Donald and I are extremely passionate about.

The reason Donald and I wrote this book is because we’ve learned the hard way that there are five, essential qualities entrepreneurs need to have in order to succeed. These qualities aren’t a guarantee for success, but not having them is a guarantee for failure. And we want you to succeed.

So, over the next few weeks, I’ll briefly share some thoughts on each quality. For more on each quality, I encourage you to purchase a copy of Midas Touch.

Strength of Character

As a young man, I started a successful Velcro wallet business. This was in the early 1980’s and MTV was just starting to take off. My partners and I had the foresight to take advantage of the wave of rock bands coming out of MTV, and we licensed band names and logos to place on our wallets.

For a while, business boomed. We had thousands of distributors around the world shipping our wallets for us, and we had millions in sales. The problem is that we didn’t really know what we were doing. As a result, many of our sales partners were 120 or more days late on paying us or had skipped out entirely. Because of this, we couldn’t pay our vendors, didn’t have the materials to continue production, and were in danger of not paying our employees and our taxes. We were in a cash crunch.

I’ll never forget sitting down for lunch with my rich dad to go over my financials for the company. Looking over the financial state of my company he said to me, “Your company has financial cancer. You’ve mismanaged a company that could have been successful. You need to look at reality and admit you’re incompetent and that your business is a failure.”

It was a hard word to hear. Up till that point, we tried to hold on, thinking the next big break would come. But it never did, and things were going from bad to worse.

After that conversation, I went back to my partners, and we did the right thing. We liquidated our inventory, paid our employees what was due to them, and set aside enough money to pay our taxes. The company was finished, but at least we weren’t crooks.

That was my first major failure as an entrepreneur. But it wasn’t my last. And if there’s anything I’ve learned after 30+ years as an entrepreneur, it’s that you will fail. The question is not whether you’ll fall; it’s how many times will you stand up?

The #1 essential quality of an entrepreneur is Strength of Character.

In order to succeed, you must first have integrity to do the right thing, and second, have the fortitude to continue moving forward even in the face of failure. Those who lack strength of character quit in the face of failure. Those who have strength of character get stronger in the face of failure by learning and adapting for the next opportunity.

How strong is your character?

I leave you with one of my favorite commercials of all-time.

Written By: Robert Kiyosaki

There’s Hope Yet

There’s Hope Yet

I have not put out much content the past few weeks in the form of blog posts or vids, the reason: I’ve been busy working on my business, complaining less about the system(my readers already know how I feel), and spending more time working to use the new rules of money to my advantage by building a business that provides value. -Joshua Gamen

———————————————————

Last week I shared with you a lot of bad news to prove a point—there’s reason to be angry (“Mad as Hell”). I also shared why being mad wasn’t enough and why you must do more than complain and protest. You must increase your financial IQ by pursuing solid financial education.

A couple weeks back, I also wrote on the Occupy movement, challenging them to start their own businesses and be the change they are calling for in the world rather than just sitting around and protesting (“Are You Occupied?”). I wrote:

In the end, the world isn’t changed by people who complain. It’s changed by people who do. Don’t like the way corporate America and Wall Street operate? Be part of changing the way America does business by being an entrepreneur who starts a company to not only make money but also make the world a better place, starting companies like TOMS, for instance.

This week, there’s still no shortage of bad news. It seems that Congress can’t win—even when cheating. The Super Congress, it appears, will fail to reach any consensus on federal deficit reduction. This means the government now has 12 months to fix the problem, a problem the Super Congress couldn’t fix with bent rules. There’s already talk that this might lead to another downgrade.

Also, the euro is in deep trouble as the growing debt crisis in Europe threatens to topple the currency and the world’s economy with it. Many now believe that the future of the euro rests in the European Central Bank’s (ECB) ability to print money. If that fails, or the ECB chooses not to create massive debt, the currency will fall, sending shockwaves throughout the world.

But amid all this, there is good news this week too in the form of an opinion piece written in The New York Times, entitled, Generation Sell.

The article focuses on the youngest generation that is coming of age, the millennial generation, born in the late 1970’s through the mid-1990’s. The generation is the biggest since the baby boomers, estimated from 70 to 80 million—and apparently the most entrepreneurial generation ever.

According to the article:

Today’s ideal social form is not the commune or the movement or even the individual creator as such; it’s the small business. Every artistic or moral aspiration—music, food, good works, what have you—is expressed in those terms.

Call it Generation Sell.

Bands are still bands, but now they’re little businesses, as well: self-produced, self-published, self-managed. When I hear from young people who want to get off the careerist treadmill and do something meaningful, they talk, most often, about opening a restaurant. Nonprofits are still hip, but students don’t dream about joining one, they dream about starting one. In any case, what’s really hip is social entrepreneurship—companies that try to make money responsibly, then give it all away.

While there is unfortunately a hint of distaste in the voice of the article’s author regarding this trend, I find this to be an extremely positive and important article. Why? Because if this trend is true and continues, the world will be a better place.

While the disaffected youth who make up the Occupy movement get all the press, they make up a very small percentage of the upcoming generation. General numbers for the protests are in the tens of thousands (though these numbers are often disputed as overblown), this compared to a upcoming generation that numbers close to 100 million.

Quietly in the background, with no real fanfare, millions of other young people are doing exactly what I’ve advised. Increasing their financial education, desiring to be entrepreneurs to make the world a better place, and starting businesses that drive our economy and allow them to not only do things they are passionate about—but do so with true influence.

That is the power of entrepreneurship.

I invite you to stop protesting with words and to start protesting with action. Increase your financial IQ, discover your passion, and start a business to make the world a better place. What have you got to lose?

Written by: Robert Kiyosaki