Do Small Business Owners Need to Be Thought Leaders?

business-1839191_1920Considering how little time most small business owners have, it is understandable that so many of them are skeptical of being thought leader as well. They need more time, damn it, not less! I can certainly see where they’re coming from.

At the same time, I don’t know if they’ve thought this through very carefully, for thought leadership has many advantages from positioning yourself as a mover and shaker to helping you boost your executive brand.

Sure, initially to be a thought leader is going to eat into your time. All the same, there are many advantages to being a thought leader that might well work out as actual time savers in the long run. What do I mean? Read on and I’ll tell you.

Okay, first off what is a ‘thought leader’?

‘Thought leader’ is a new marketing term. It basically means that you position yourself so that the people in your industry (and those beyond it if you do a really good job) end up turning to you to get the lowdown on new developments in your niche.

A real thought leader is at the cutting edge of new technology and new ideas. They understand how these things will undermine the status quo and how to position themselves to take advantage of that. It doesn’t end there, of course. They also share this knowledge with those around them.

Admittedly, this does cost them a bit of their advantage as it will mean that the industry adapts more quickly. What do they get in return?

  • They get to position themselves as an authority, with all the benefits thereof.
  • They get a soap box from which to not only share their ideas but highlight their product and their company.
  • It enhances your brand through content marketing.
  • They build relationships with other people in their industry.
  • In order to maintain their edge, they will feel called upon to know what is going on in their industry.

Now I don’t know about you, but to me those advantages sound well worth the investment of time. Just being constantly pushed to be ahead of the curve can be a tremendous advantage (to not even discuss how useful it will be to seen as an authority and the extra weight it adds to your company.

How to become a thought leader

Being a thought leader goes hand in hand with content marketing. It means consistently getting out there and sharing what you know with the industry. Ultimately, the platform that you’d like to use will be your company’s blog, as then it will also serve as a way to inform potential customers of what your company is up to.

Of course, that’s not where you’ll start off. First you’ll need to post the arrows pointing to your blog to let people know that there’s actually something interesting going on there. And so, to get there you’ll start by building up a reputation by guest blogging, attending conferences and speaking at engagements.

In truth, this is where you’ll have to invest time today in order to win time tomorrow. The thing is, you don’t need to go overboard. You don’t have to publish articles every day of the week. Just like the content marketing strategy your company is providing, it’s not all about quantity. In fact, high quality content is far more likely to make people perceive you as a thought leader.

You don’t have to do it alone

Nor do you have to do it on your own. There is absolutely nothing that says that there only has to be one thought leader at a firm. If you’ve got other employees who’ve got interesting things to say, then share the load with them!

Of course, in this situation you do have to make sure that you give them their credit. This will allow them to work on their efforts at personal branding as well as make it far more likely that they’ll put in the effort to really make their work shine.

You don’t have to stop there either. Just because you want to be a thought leader doesn’t mean you have to write every word and design every argument. There are plenty of writers out there who can help you shape your message, either by writing the content for you or by editing your words once you’ve put them on paper.

This will both serve to save you a great deal of time and hone your message to a razor’s edge.

It’s a long term strategy

You will not become a thought leader overnight. People will have to sit up and take notice of you first. That will no doubt take a number of articles in places where your industry looks. In effect, thought leadership is an investment.

The thing is, it pays off. Being positioned as an authority means that people will not only turn to you when things change, it means that you can initiate change. You might even be able to shape the industry you’re in.

And as your creating the waves that help shape your industry, you’ll be in a far better position to ride them so that your small business becomes a much bigger one. And all that because you were willing to take on a role of thought leadership. Now who can say no to that?

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