As an entrepreneur, your reputation is everything. And if you want to carve out respect for yourself within your industry, you have to intentionally create the sort of reputation that you want others to associate with you. This will look different for everyone, but the same basic principles apply. This begins with establishing authority.
What is Authority?
In the most basic sense, authority is “the power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior.” And while we often think of parents, teachers, coaches, or elected government officials as having authority, the reality is that entrepreneurs also possess some degree of it.
Having authority is important for a number of reasons. For one, it preemptively goes before you and creates some level of respect before you ever meet with a client, business partner, investor, etc. Secondly, it gives you more power to influence key decisions.
However, on the flip side, even the smallest amount of authority comes with great responsibility. The more successful you become in your space, the more other people will assign authority to you.
In turn, they’ll begin looking to you for advice and will hang on your every word. This can be a good thing, but it can also lead to dire consequences if you aren’t smart about how you manage it.
3 Tips for Building Authority as an Entrepreneur
There are many things you can do to establish authority as an entrepreneur. Here are a few of our favorite moves in the playbook:
1. Get Clear on Your Personal Brand
People don’t assign authority to random individuals who they don’t know. People assign authority to people who have a clear and recognizable identity. Thus, if you’re going to build authority, it starts with establishing a personal brand. (You can find more great info on this personal branding blog.
Much like you would when starting a business, take time to get clear on who you are, what your identity is, and how you want to communicate that identity to others. Whether it’s a mission statement, unique sales proposition (USP), or set of values, make sure you know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. This makes all of the other steps much easier.
2. Attach Content to Your Name
In the online world of personal branding, content is currency. It’s the tender you use to “purchase” authority. So if you’re serious about establishing authority in your industry or niche, you have to become a content creator.
While most people turn to blogging, this is no longer the most reliable method of building authority (unless you’re willing to commit to publishing thousands of words of original content per week). As things stand today, you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck using mediums like:
- Books. There’s something very special about a book. Being a published author puts you in rarified air. But here’s the thing: It’s no longer as difficult as in the past. Thanks to self-publishing and on-demand printing, anyone can become a published author in just a few clicks. Consider writing a book that’s focused on a specific problem or opportunity in your industry. It’ll open doors for you.
- Podcasts. As podcasts increase in popularity, they’ve become an excellent platform for entrepreneurs who want to establish a tribe and get their voice out there.
- Emerging social. Nothing against Facebook, Twitter, and other long-standing social media platforms, but emerging social platforms like TikTok are where the industry is going.
You don’t have to pursue all of these angles. (In fact, you probably shouldn’t.) Emphasize quality over quantity. If you’re going to write a book, go full speed after the book. If it’s a podcast you want to launch, make that your focus. Don’t get distracted by shiny object syndrome. Instead, stay focused on the one thing you’re doing. You can eventually shift if you don’t feel like it’s working out.
3. Collect and Leverage Proof
Anytime you work with a customer or client and have positive results, collect all of the data associated with it. You should also ask for a positive testimonial or review. Keep a folder of all this information and use it to support your authority on your website, in your bio, and when pitching future customers or clients.
Adding it All Up
Time is one of the most important ingredients in the entire process of building authority. Unlike other things, like fame, you can’t build authority overnight. It requires patience, discipline, and consistency over a long period of time. But the sooner you start, the faster you’ll be on your way.