For many entrepreneurs, their business becomes an extension of themselves. Many brands – including the biggest in the world – are aligned directly with the entrepreneur behind the endeavor. There are plenty of examples of this, from Steve Jobs and Apple to Elon Musk and Tesla: the business owner becomes synonymous with the business.
Given the two examples named above have been wildly successful, it’s tempting to think that you should do the same with your business: you should become the brand, the leading figure behind the enterprise. If this is a route you want to pursue, then it could work – but in most cases, this choice will do more harm than good. Here’s why.
#1 – If you falter, your business falters
There is a timely example for this point: the aforementioned Elon Musk who, at present, seems to be going through something of a midlife crisis. That, of course, is Musk’s business; he can have a midlife crisis if he wants… but his personal behavior is directly harming his business.
As Musk is a billionaire, he and his businesses are likely to be able to cope with the adverse publicity. However, for smaller businesses, misdeeds of the entrepreneur could be ruinous. If you experience upset in your personal life or need to consult a criminal lawyer as a result of a charge against you, then being closely tied to your business is incredibly damaging. Not only is this bad news for your company, but it also doubles down a rough patch in your life, as you experience a personal issue and your business falters too – a far from ideal situation.
#2 – Political differences abound
If you wish to embody your business, then at some point, you will be asked for a political opinion – and that puts you at risk of alienating roughly half of your customers. Most entrepreneurs who embody their business will be expected to discuss their own political beliefs, which can be hugely damaging to customer relations given how strong the political divide currently is.
However, if you keep your individual identity separate from your business, you only need to share political views as and when you see fit.
#3 – You need a personal life
Over recent years, the need for a positive work-life balance has become common knowledge. If you seek to embody your business, then you are essentially abandoning all hope of a successful work-life balance; you are becoming your business, and that means your business is going to claim far more time and energy from you than is truly healthy.
Some entrepreneurs are happy to become the embodiment of their business, to live and breathe it, and for their personal life to become synonymous with the business – but this is far from ideal, and very much the exception to the norm.
The decision to separate yourself from your business, to stay in the background as part of the company rather than an obvious figurehead, is almost certainly the right decision for both you and your company. Your business is able to flourish in its own right, and you are able to keep your personal life just for you, which should lead to a positive outcome in both regards.