Judgment isn’t mine, but…

Every time I hear someone say being a brand is being yourself, I cringe a little. We are such emotional, volatile creatures and while staying true to ourselves — our values, our character, what we stand for — can be part of building a personal brand, just being yourself isn’t it.

We are emotional, volatile creatures capable of losing our minds at any moment.

While brands do occasionally have lapses in judgement, it’s never actually the brand itself, but rather the fickle human beings managing it.

Brands are consistent. They don’t have emotional outbursts.

All these years in branding have gotten to my head and for a while there I thought that I too was consistent and didn’t have emotional outbursts.

To be fair, it wasn’t exactly an outburst.

What happened was…

I was in a circle of entrepreneurs who were all getting their kumbaya on. They asked us to share what it is we are not saying about why we do what we do. Being the authentic, consistent brand I am, I said, “I’ve said everything I need to say about my why, y’all.” Some of them were still wiping the tears away from their eyes, after having confessed their deepest entrepreneurial secrets, as they called BS on my lack of confession.

It wasn’t that I was trying to hide anything, I just didn’t want to ruffle the stability I had found in the foundation for my brand. It took me a couple of years to refine what I stand for as the CEO of Kiss Me Creative — I stand for entrepreneurs having the freedom they were seeking when they set out to be entrepreneurs. That freedom comes with caveats, though. That freedom is attained only by real entrepreneurs who are all in.

In this service-based economy I have met hundreds of so-called entrepreneurs who simply woke up one morning and decided they would join the ranks of the self-employed.

The word employed comes from the verb to employ which means to give work to someone and pay them for it. Pay being the key word here. It may be none of my business, but there seem to be way more self-proclaimed entrepreneurs in this service-based economy than there are people exchanging services for money — or, more specifically people exchanging services for appropriate amounts of money.

This pisses me off.

I’m over here investing time and money and energy in getting better at what I do and in growing a business and in building a team. I am sending 5-figure proposals, learning new technologies and contracting experts; I am sweating it when the money coming in doesn’t quite match the money going out. Meanwhile, in la-la land there are “entrepreneurs” out there who are just not worried about the cash flow and the clients. They have savings accounts, wealthy spouses, trust funds, credits cards or all of the above. Having those resources is not the problem. Running a business like they don’t have to make money is.

I understand it takes time to make money. I extend so much grace to the new entrepreneur who is navigating some of the stormiest waters life has to offer. But for some of you, the grace period is over.

I didn’t want to call out those entrepreneurs in that kumbaya circle, but they pushed my fancy Ted Baker buttons so aggressively that I let them have it.

If you’re years into calling yourself an entrepreneur and you haven’t made a sale, you may actually be an impostor. If you live in the year 2016 and you call yourself an entrepreneur, but you don’t have a web presence, you may actually be an impostor. If you are trying to sell your coaching services at a few thousand dollars a pop and you paid $5 for your logo and got your business cards for free, impostor is maybe a bit harsh, but seriously what are you doing?

Then one of them piped up and said, “I don’t think you’re really that harsh. I think you have a really big heart and you’re just invested in seeing us succeed.”

No, lady, I’m really interested in seeing myself succeed and you’re taking up a piece of my pie.

I didn’t actually say that. I did think it, though. Truth is, I am not interested in seeing just any entrepreneur succeed. I’m interested in seeing the ones who are all in succeed. I’m interested in separating those who are brilliant, but suffering from impostor syndrome, from those who are actually impostors and I’m interested in making the real ones wildly successful.

Now the question is, where are the real ones?

Laura Diaz is the CEO and Senior Strategist at Kiss Me Creative where they make client love all day long. Her super powers are efficiency, follow through and creativity based on sound logic. She enjoys long sips of coffee and short lines at Starbucks.