Could you be a thought leader?

How to lead and inspire as the face of a small business

We hear the term ‘thought leader’ brandished about like the latest buzzword trend, and with it, confusion about what it actually means, and what exactly is constituted as thought leadership.

Depending on your sources, not just anyone qualifies, and there are a basic set of principles that take you from visionary to thought leadership material.

Thought leadership explained

The idea that it remains the domain of large corporate think-tanks is old thinking.

In fact, we see entrepreneurs emerging as authorities in their niche with powerful visions, inspiring a new generation of change with their innovative and alternative approach to ‘business as usual’.

According to Thought Leadership Lab, thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise.

As industry experts have the knowledge and experience to offer intelligent insight and lead a conversation, a thought leader drives change forward, creating a blueprint for others to follow. With a clear-cut vision and understanding of industry trends, they influence the evolution of their market often creating waves beyond.

Take young Richard Branson – a great example of a small-time big thinker. He started at the age of 16 as a high school dropout, with next to no money or experience he built an empire from scratch by ‘screwing business as usual’. With every new venture, injecting ‘fun, curiosity and disruption’ even in the dullest of sectors. He even made telecoms sexy! He grew to become an expert and leader of innovation and in doing so, set new industry benchmarks. Today his enterprise operates 40 companies across five different business sectors.

Everybody starts small, and here is proof that big ideas start and grow with time and experience. Although we may not be striving for Richard Branson-scale recognition; we can still make an impact on our own missions.

Are you the ‘go-to’ in your niche?

As mentioned, not everyone is cut out for the job. But if you find yourself leading the conversation, an authority figure setting the course for others, and you attract people who are ready to hear your new ideas, then you may just be someone who could be a thought leader.

You may have a product or a service, a model or an initiative that you do differently to great effect. You may have set up business to do exactly that – to disrupt the status quo and create a better version of what currently exists. If any of this sounds like you, you might want to polish up on your writing skills and start publishing some papers! The fact that you already have an established company is a great place to start.

Key principles of every thought leader

  • Strategic insight
  • Power to persuade
  • Expert knowledge
  • An authority (figure or business)
  • Influencer
  • Trusted source

Write to inspire

Writing is the best way to communicate and share ideas if you’re not much of a spokesperson.

Great ways to organically grow your following online include:

  • Writing blogs and white papers with industry insights, trends, predictions and opinions and share these across all your social media accounts
  • Newsletter updates to your client database, will keep them informed with your vision and strategic thinking
  • LinkedIn updates will get your content circulated in professional circles and improve your chances of endorsement for your vision and expertise
  • Speeches at trade fairs, network events and industry forums will put a face to the name
  • Social media content sharing will increase the reach of all your content

 Benefits of sharing your vision

If you have the vision that sets you apart and your way of thinking is different to that around you, then you can add value and grow a following of like- minded people. By putting yourself out there, you not only build trust and reputation, but people will seek you out for your advice. This can only have a positive financial impact on your business portfolio; and remember, you don’t have to be big and famous to be a successful authority figure.

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Published by Alina

Director / Founder FPA

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