Should your business be more like Trump or J.Lo?
It seems like Donald Trump’s name is everywhere: From buildings, to books, to games, to evenwater. Jennifer Lopez is not far behind with her music albums, clothing, and perfumes. And I’msure her name will be in Hollywood lights again soon. No doubt both Trump and J.Lo have made millions leveraging their “personal brands.” But their businesses, however, are fundamentally different. Which kind of business should you build?A “personal brand” is a persona that can be leveraged for income. That is, personalities use their personal name (or nickname) like a brand name to make money, e.g., Trump Ice water. Now, Idon’t know what Donald Trump has got to do with ice, other than maybe his ice skating rink inCentral Park. Regardless, Trump has been able to not only “productize” his persona, but create businesses with tangible value beyond “personal brand extension.”Welcome to the world of personal branding. In reality, “entrepreneurial celebrities” are a hybridof two versions of the personal brand: property-pivoted personality and personality-pivoted property. It may sound like a mere play on words... yet, their distinctive definitions determinetheir destinies.A property-based personality is a personal brand built upon income-producing assets that cangrow in value independently of the owner’s persona. That is, Trump’s real estate is still valuable(and could produce income) without his celebrity status.Whereas the economic value of personality-pivoted property, often in the form of products, iscompletely dependent on the social worth of the person’s public persona. Greater the fame,greater the value of the personal brand; it can be overwhelmingly gratifying. But it is oftenshort-lived, and hardly ever multi-generational. It is rarely a saleable asset without the personality actively promoting the brand. Case in point: Atkins International filed for bankruptcy shortly after his death.Are you creating a business that can have worth beyond your active promotion? Or is your business solely dependent upon your expertise and charisma? Both Trump and J.Lo enjoy mediaattention and high incomes through their personal brands, but Trump is a property-pivoted personality. His personality is built upon his property’s success; not vice versa (for the most part).Jennifer Lopez may have business interests outside her name; such assets don’t leverage her personal brand. Trump likewise may have many business interests that do not leverage his name; but we all know the ones that do. And those assets, while they gain value from his name, aren’tdependent on him (or his social worth) to create income.For many of us, this kind of wheelin-n-dealin’ may not be so easy. The fault line between beingtrapped in your business and leveraging your name is often crooked and confusing. On onehand, you want to be known for your quality work... on the other hand, you may want to haveother people doing the work for you. And of course, on one hand, you enjoy your work, yet on