In a room full of high schoolers, garnering attention is at a premium. Pulling kids, and adults, away from their phones to drive home a message has beome one of the more taxing parts of public speaking. So Paul Brunson didn’t fight it. Instead, he asked a room full of high school kids to go find one young man’s Instagram page. “What’s on it?” Brunson implored. “Can anyone find his Snapchat? What has he posted?”
For Brunson, your personal brand as an entrepreneur is hands-down the most important thing about your business. “It’s more important than the skills you actually have, it’s more important than the capital you have to raise funds for your business, it’s even more important than the network you have,” he said. Brunson summarized it later, saying, “Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Or in this case, what they can see and learn about you on social media. We’ll get back to that in a minute.
He spoke Wednesday night to students in Youth Entrepreneurs, an organization launched in 1991 by Wichita’s Charles and Liz Koch as a way to teach kids about business and give them the tools and the courage to become an entrepreneur. They wanted to show kids it’s OK to fail, that you will fail, but how to take those failures and turn them into future success.
One of the graduates of the program was at the event at iWerx on Wednesday night, running the sound system. Seth Konkle is the owner of Ilusion Productions and his business plan was simple: make YE work for me. Now, YE contracts with Konkle to plan and run all of their events. Pretty ingenious strategy. Konkle started up his business in the early 2000s, before the big boom of social media and having to have a social strategy as part of a business plan. For Konkle, social media can be tough, but it can also be a huge help for anyone trying to start a business at a young age. “I can see for a young person trying to start a business geared toward young people, it could be much easier with social media.” he said. “Because they could actually promote themselves sort of at that grassroots level.”
Social media has definitely changed the game for businesses with many creating entire jobs just to handle the content. But at what point are businesses relying too much on the role of social?
“You know what I’m a little bit scared of right now?” asked Brunson. “I think that social media is fooling us.” Fooling us? But there are people who make millions, 11-year-old kids who make millions, through YouTube videos or Instagram influencing. How is that fooling us? “There are a lot of entrepreneurs right now who think that entrepreneurship is simply about posting and that’s it. That’s one sliver of entrepreneurship. So I’m worried about the future of entrepreneurship because of social media.”
So where is the future of entrepreneurship headed? The answer, for Brunson, is right in your own head. “What’s really hot right now is actually selling your knowledge. This is incredibly important because there’s decentralization happening around education.”
OK, so what in the world does that mean? “For example,” said Brunson as he turned the focus on to me, “you’re asking me questions, you’re standing behind this phenomenal camera. Just the fact that you were able to put the mic on the camera and you’re shooting on the camera, that’s a little bit of knowledge that someone else in the world wants. So being able to package your knowledge and sell your knowledge I think is a phenomenal, phenomenal opportunity.”