Over ten years ago, I was a high school teacher.  One of the courses I taught was entrepreneurship, where I educated grade 12 students how to run a business.

Normally, these businesses raise about $1,000 in revenues for the school year.  Well, our student-run business had revenues of over $20,000 in four months.

In the history of the school board, no entrepreneurship class had ever earned those kinds of revenues.

It was at that point I realized I had a gift to grow revenues for businesses, and the high school classroom became much too small.

So, with my 10 years of business experience years behind me, and four degrees, I sent out 120 resumes to the top marketing companies, ad agencies, and public relations firms.

The results were disappointing.   The phone never rang once…no one wanted to even interview me.  They saw me as a high school teacher and pigeonholed me into that role.

Fed up that no one would hire me, I hired one of my high school student alumni as a graphic artist to design an interactive CD of my portfolio.  With all the e-portfolios out there today, this does not sound very leading edge, but over ten years ago, e-portfolios were not common to use to apply for a job.

This investment was not cheap…in fact, at that time, it cost me $10,000 to hire a photographer, prepare all of the graphics and interactivity for the CD, and distribute all 120 of them through express mail.

Nowadays, it would not nearly be as expensive, but I was asked to create something that was not typical.  But back then, I believed in the investment in myself.

I believed in my personal brand and knew I needed to do what the competition was unwilling or unable to do – to set myself apart from the rest.

My friends thought I was crazy…spending that kind of money to find a job.  But I stuck to my guns and moved forward.

The content on my e-portfolio was exactly the same as my hard copy resume.  In fact, the words were exactly the same.  The only difference was now it had pictures and portfolio samples the reader could click through.  So, after it was developed, I sent it out to the same 120 businesses.  And this time, I received sixty interviews.

This is the power of branding.  Branding is an investment, not an expense.

Just as you invest in education without hesitation, you MUST invest in branding without hesitation.  If you are willing to make that investment, you will reap the benefits.

How important do you think branding is to the success of your business?