Are you a Celebrity or Community Entrepreneur?

Social media has changed how we think and relate to others. On the one hand, we are more in touch with each other than ever before, but on the other, less connected with our community. This is causing a shift in how many entrepreneurs today market themselves, leading me to think or question - are there now two kinds? - celebrity, and community.

The difference between celebrity and community entrepreneurs is stark. The dictionary definition of ‘entrepreneur’ is fairly basic. I’m one. Likely, you are too. It is: “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

Perhaps social media has just highlighted the differences in business people and maybe these differences have always been there. But I’m not convinced, simply because the way we market has changed dramatically, leading to the rise of what I call the celebrity entrepreneur, versus the more common community entrepreneur of our not-so-distant past.

Why is this, and why am I seeing it as a trend that is dividing entrepreneurs into two groups?

As business people today, we are smarter, have access to more resources, skills are higher and broader and it is abundantly cheaper to start up a business. We pride ourselves on our awareness and evolution and at times, are guilty of being snobby about our chained-to-the-desk ex-colleagues.

Entrepreneurs have split into two groups, but one of them is not as evolved as they would have us believe. And the success they feel may not be the legacy they look back on later in life with pride.

Choosing what kind of entrepreneur you are is fortunately in your control. In my travels as a marketer, designer, publisher and author, I’ve met loads of people. I’ve met marketers for massive brands, business owners, start-ups and authors. SEO and Social Media specialists, Balinese business owners, and Western successfuls and hopefuls. A dearth of entrepreneurs from all walks of life and all ages.

Women have inspired me, men have humbled me. I’ve felt inadequate in the light of some, to be sure, but every single one has taught me something. As I lay awake at five this morning thinking about the differences in celebrity versus community, I realised how much the Balinese have taught me about being an entrepreneur who serves to leave a legacy.

Bali’s entrepreneurs almost always fit in the community category. Oka’s Bakery at the end of my gang is one of these. I write about the owner Ketut in my book Bali Soul Journals. She has a vision and bit by bit, she works toward it, saving for the next piece of equipment, proud of the fact she is servicing the largest debt in Canggu with the local government lender. She works hard. I mean, really hard. Her family work in the business that she has grown from an Internet cafe to a baker supplying the likes of Potato Head and Ku De Ta. It operates almost 24 hours a day.

And she gives. And gives. And gives. She is completely immersed in her local community, which means as a leader she must attend all ceremonies and help with the coordination of preparation. There is many a night I have walked up my gang to see her sitting with dozens of ladies making baskets and decorations for a funeral, wedding or annual event.

When we go up and buy her bread, she gives...of herself, of her knowledge, samples, questions and praise. From time to time she pops into my kitchen to see what I am cooking up. We chat, we exchange, we connect.

Ketut has big plans and works toward them daily, but this never stops her involvement with her community, even though she jokes how tired she is. Some might call her a small business owner. I don’t. She has the heart and soul of a visionary and seems to know that whatever she creates, comes back into her life 10-fold.

JJ Buttons in Kerobokan is the same. Community was JJ’s number one concern as he grew his button making empire that supplies to Bali’s biggest fashion brands. The more he gave, the more he grew and the more he engaged with not only the people he served for money, but those who had nothing to give him. Community entrepreneurs exist to serve, not to take. They share knowledge and experience and most of all, they connect with others. They build and invariably leave a legacy.

In recent times I have seen the emergence of the Celebrity Entrepreneur. They proudly create a business that has passive income and are usually very specific about the problem they are solving. I don’t call them ‘celebrity’ to be condescending. This defines how they market themselves: they invariably have a book, a purpose, a mantra. They blog, postcast, video, send out HTMLs and are masters of social media. It’s a business model that thousands are aspiring to emulate, and this is why alarm bells are ringing for me.

For many ‘newbees’, their eye is on the prize. The dollars. The ROI. The status. It’s totally about WIIFM - what’s in it for them.

The pioneers in this kind of entrepreneurship were Jack Canfield, Wayne Dwyer and Louise Hay. Their ethos has always been about giving, teaching, guiding and inspiring. Each of them consciously choose a legacy to leave behind. In other words, they had checked in with and were living, their life purpose.

I fear that some of the young set coming through have missed this important fact and instead of working on being authentic, they are working on a superficial personal brand.

They know marketing, so they know how to spin. And spin they do, disguising tier-marketing as personal development services. It is giving me some sense of alarm because they are very much focused on themselves, rather than of their service to others.

So, how do you know if you are falling into the trap of over-celebritising yourself and becoming more of a community entrepreneur? There are plenty of community entrepreneurs who are celebrities. Oprah is one of them. Let me share you the common traits of each. Note that these are at each end of the extreme.

Community Entrepreneurs

  • They give their time

  • They share the essence of who they are

  • They are authentic and work on their personal brand from this platform, not from somebody else’s

  • Their focus is on service to others and what they can give

  • They are honest in acknowledgment of all the help they’ve been given along the way, no matter how small it was

  • They give back to their community, whether this is geographic or virtual

  • They express gratitude, frequently

  • They lift others up

  • They are mentors

  • They speak of the impact they’ve had on others

  • They work to leave a legacy

  • They are open and honest about who they are, which in turn inspires

  • They admire many, not a few

  • They take risks but they are intuitive and therefore much more susceptible to failure

  • They speak openly about their failures

Celebrity Entrepreneurs

  • They give their expertise, so long as they are paid for it

  • They give for free, so long as it is part of their marketing strategy

  • They do not directly acknowledge those who have helped them, preferring to imply they ‘found it’ themselves

  • They refer to how much they make rather than the impact they have made

  • They make loud and public donations

  • Working in the community is impossible because they are too busy

  • Their focus is on WIIFM, not what’s in it for others

  • They take risks but they are calculated business plans

  • They believe that a book, a blog and a website are their key marketing tools

  • They do not admire many people, as there are few they feel are as talented as they are

  • They wear the title of entrepreneur like a badge, proud of their ability to create

  • They can be superior around other entrepreneurs who have not reached their lofty position of success

  • They are afraid of giving too much help because they have not yet figured out the wonder of abundance

  • Everything they do is calculated to build their profile

I was running my one-day E-Book Publishing workshop earlier this week and realised the room was full of community entrepreneurs. Perhaps too much so, in that they were giving way more than they were earning. But their focus was on service, not self. And I just knew that with a bit of guidance, they could be living their dream as well as making a comfortable income.

I led them through building their personal brand and we did a short but effective exercise on how to determine your life purpose. Instead of jumping in and telling them how to write a book that can boost their business (a celebrity trait), we worked on WIIFT (them) and why they actually wanted to write a book in the first place. In fact, we spent the first half of the day defining our reasons, our legacy, before starting the process of assembling a book.

While I gave them all the tools they needed to write a Number One bestseller and publish it themselves, our focus was on what the purpose was - the service to others - instead of how much money it would make.

I believe that writing a book is one of the greatest gifts you can give to somebody. Sure, it will give you celebrity status and boost your business. But the book alone can’t do that. The only thing that can truly grow your business is you. Your wonderful, authentic self which connects with others, gives, and is building a legacy that others will benefit from.

So my fellow entrepreneurs, which are you? Celebrity or community? (Just quietly, if you have got this far, I am tipping you are the latter not the former! The celebrity entrepreneur’s eyes glazed over as soon as they realised that I wasn’t giving them anything more than a chance for personal reflection!)

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* * * * * If you would like to learn more about writing and publishing an authentic e-book that will boost your business and develop your personal brand, please send me a note to Check my Facebook page for details, or this website.

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