10 Ways to Be an Authentic Entrepreneur and Sell Your Best Self

Authenticity is everything when marketing yourself.

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By Eric Elliott

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every entrepreneur must learn how to effectively connect with customers. Essentially, connected customers tend to be more loyal, translating into repeat business. Loyal customers also turn into brand ambassadors over time.

One surefire way to establish a connection with your customers is to be authentic. Projecting your true self by portraying the values you and your business stand for attracts the right audience, who are highly likely to do business with you.

In short, customers are more inclined to identify with an individual or brand that promotes values that matter to them. For this reason, being authentic is so powerful in attracting and retaining customers. Oprah Winfrey once said, "I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I've become. If I had, I'd have done it a lot earlier."

Related: Are You Coming Across as Authentic?

Here are ten ways to cultivate authenticity as an entrepreneur and sell your best self.

1. Love what you do

It all begins here. As an entrepreneur, chances are you're driven by a passion for offering a solution to a particular problem. However, as much as you're passionate about your venture, the journey to realizing the vision can be laden with so many challenges that your zeal might dwindle. Despite the ups and downs, you must genuinely love what you do. And the good thing is that passion attracts attention and can help you create the right connections.

2. Hone your strengths

Another effective way of projecting your authentic self is manifesting your best traits. Identifying and polishing up your strengths can propel you to great success as an entrepreneur. When you allow your strengths to shine in a controlled manner that's not condescending, they can help you attract the right audience.

3. Love yourself unconditionally

What does loving yourself have to do with authenticity? Everything. Essentially, you cannot love or care about your potential customers more than you love or care about yourself. Having true self-love makes it easier to transfer that to others, and the authenticity in that act can win you massive numbers.

4. Promote authenticity in the business

Thousands of candidates out there possess the right academic qualifications that your business requires. However, only a handful of them can help your business realize its full potential. When hiring, it's essential to look for those unique qualities your business needs: people whose passions and values align with yours. If you hire strategically, you will build a team of authentic people, making it easier to keep your entrepreneurial ideals on track.

5. Be authentic on social media

People cover up so much on social media with the pretext of "projecting a positive brand image." Safeguarding your brand is vital, but you don't have to be fake to achieve it. Being relevant on social media is pretty straightforward. You just need to create content that resonates with your audience. And since you want to attract an audience that shares your values, this should be pretty easy. Choose what is relevant to them and share it without overthinking it too much.

Related: 10 Unmistakable Habits of Utterly Authentic People

6. Talk to everyone

Too busy pursuing your business goals to pay attention to your employees? As much as you have agendas to address and an entire company to run, interacting with your employees on a regular basis is essential. Building solid and authentic relationships with the staff is an easy way of passing on the culture of authenticity to them. Generally, employees tend to emulate leaders who possess admirable traits.

7. Lead by example

As much as employees understand their job description and expectations, their performance is affected by the company culture to a great extent. To stand out as an authentic entrepreneur and project authenticity across your venture, you must lead by example. As mentioned above, employees will be more inclined to emulate you if you project a desirable leadership.

8. Relax networking rules

Networking rules are good for protocol purposes, but sometimes keeping within the lines can easily mask your authentic self. Instead, don't shy away from discussing what you love and believe in, in your most comfortable style. You need not be loud or too conscious of leaving a memorable impression as traditional networking rules dictate. By networking in the way that comes most naturally to you, you allow your authenticity to shine.

9. Acknowledge your limitations

As an entrepreneur, you want to execute your vision to the letter, which makes the temptation to do it all ever so alluring. However, the earlier you acknowledge your limitations and bring in a like-minded team to help you in areas with limited abilities, the higher the chances of realizing your highest potential as an individual and business.

10. Build authentic customer connections

Customers are the lifeline of any business. Building authentic relationships can go a long way towards earning their loyalty and getting repeat business. This can be through offline and online interactions. But the online platform offers more opportunities to create and maintain these connections through social media, website, email, etc. However, the goal is to cultivate authentic communications and bring out your human side to evoke the right emotions for deeper connections.

Related: Why an Authentic Purpose Is the Best Differentiator

Customers seek entrepreneurs who project values that they identify with, people who don't hesistate to project their human side and show vulnerability. For this reason, failing to project your authentic self can easily cost you your audience, losing them to competitors who have mastered the art of authenticity.

You may be accustomed to the rehearsed, corporate-like approach to doing business. In that case, toning things down and letting the raw, unedited version of yourself loose can be hard at first. But with commitment and practice, you can hone the art of authenticity and reap the many rewards that come with it. In addition to unlocking the best version of yourself, authenticity will help you build a tribe of loyal customers, engaged employees and, ultimately, long-term business success.

Eric Elliott

Entrepreneur & CEO

Eric Elliott is a marketing expert who has been in the field for nearly two decades. A serial entrepreneur, Elliott is the head of three companies and is considered a marketer's marketer. Elliott has spoken at events and conferences on creative marketing, digital marketing and entrepreneurship.

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