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by Dennis Roberts

Whether employed, self-employed or a business owner you have a personal brand. How you build both your character (internal) and reputation (external) are keys to how your brand is perceived by yourself and others. You are A brand but not necessarily THE brand.

Robert Kiyosaki in his book “Cash Flow Quadrant” describes four cashflow models:

Employee (E)

Business owner (B)
Self-employed (S)

Investor (I)

The Employee (E) and Self-employed (S) models are labour based models, ie the rewards accrue from labour. The Business Owner (B) and Investor (I) models are capital or equity based models, ie the rewards accrue from capital.

Why have a personal brand? The primary reasons to create a brand are positioning, promotion and persuasion. One of the greatest personal challenges you will face in the domain of (E&S) employment based models is self-promotion.

Years ago a standard resume was the primary marketing piece for your career development and progression. Not so now. Something like 75% of all jobs are not advertised. It is essential that you create and manage your own personal brand to maximise your prospects of career progression. Resumes are poor vehicles for self-promotion.


When you operate a business and CV’s were the primary marketing document s When you manage your understand that as employee ampyee It is possible that Your personal brand may also be your business brand but knowing that you have birthed two entities and have chosen to fuse them into one brand is very different by unknowingly assuming they are one.

Your personal brand is how the marketplace perceives you. It is your reputation. Owning your personal brand the benefits of owning your own personal brand

If you are an employee, or self-employed then you are the brand. You are managing your career. There is no separate trading identity, no alternate business name, your taxes are paid on your declared income. You don’t exit a career by selling it, you retire from it. When you stop, it stops.

The cashflow from labour based models is measured as wages & salaries or fee income, commissions, etc. It is taxed in your hands at the prevailing marginal PAYG tax rate. These Fee-For-Service models depend on time, labour, labour rates or fees.

At the other end of the spectrum when you are a business owner it is clear that the business has its own name, identity, structure and brand. Capital growth is the primary measure. The profits that accrue from these enterprises will ultimately be realised in one of two ways:

1.    Capital growth – realised upon selling the enterprise (partial/ full sale), and/or

2.    Dividends – profit is either retained to fuel growth, or paid out as dividends.

Where it is gets confusing is where self-employment (S) meets business owner (B). The term Owner/ Operator is quite apt. Solo-preneurs may be either self-employed or a business owner/ operator. It is the ownership tag that confuses/ clarifies the issue. The roles of Owner and Operator are quite distinct and should be treated separately.

Owners do not get rewarded for time and effort. It is not related to labour or exertion. The element that drives the reward is capital or equity in a business enterprise.

The argument about whether you are the brand or not is dependent on identifying the cashflow, income or business model that generates income, cashflow, profit and equity. Each is different.

The moment you create a separate business entity including business structure, business name you also create a business identity and that identity is your business brand.

When you trade under another structure or business name, you are playing a very different game.

Are solo-preneurs self-employed or business owners. Employment and ownership are different concepts. Employment is commonly an avenue for exertion based income. It is frequently measured and rewarded on a time basis.

The ownership of an asset, on the other hand, is capital in nature. It has a store of value and that value may appreciate or depreciate.

If you own your own business then you play two distinct roles – owner and employee. Each has different rewards. And each carries different responsibilities.

If it is your intention to create equity in your brand, whether it be personal brand or business brand, then the question to ask yourself is how can I extract the value in my brand equity upon exiting the business? Your exit strategy and how effective you are in planning, preparing and staging your exit is key. If you have no desire to sell your goodwill and work your labour of love then great for you. That is a model of self-employment. If you wish to cash in your chips at some point then build robust business systems NOT dependent on you such that you can transition out of the business when desired or necessary.  


by Dennis Roberts