By Kaylee White
As we get older, we all hear the million dollar question “what do you want to be when you grow up” many times. Every time I was asked, I had a different answer. I wanted to be a teacher, a professional dancer, a CEO, an executive secretary, an event planner, a motivational speaker, and much more. Each time I answered, I was confident that I had found my answer and figured out THE career that I wanted to pursue. This happened every time and with each change of my answer, my concern and worry increased.
In the eighth grade, my teacher asked us all to craft a mission statement, pick a college that we wanted to focus our efforts on getting into, and then pick a profession that we wanted to pursue and study it. We had a week to make decisions on all of these, as we needed the answers to complete several assignments, but we were allowed to change our answers as we went.
I think I changed my answers twelve times during that year. I spent many nights agonizing over what I wanted to be and how I wanted to approach the rest of my life. I didn’t want to pick the wrong path. I didn’t want to miss out on amazing opportunities that I could get from picking one path over another.
What is a Multipotentialite?
I spent way too long trying to decide on one single career path that I could take. I didn’t even stop to think about any other options that may be available to me. Then I saw the TED Talk that Emilie Wapnick gave. It felt like she was speaking right to me. It felt like she was addressing every concern, worry, and thought that had crossed my mind in the 22 years that I’ve been alive.
I felt myself shaking my head in agreement, felt a weight lift from my shoulders, and was starting to finally see a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Emilie introduced the concept of multipotentialism and what it means as an identity.
My favorite definition comes from Emilie herself: “A multipotentialite is a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life.” In a basic description, it’s someone who can’t pick, choose, and commit to just one path. As a self-proclaimed multipotentialite, I pursue a multitude of paths and as an entrepreneur, that doesn’t exactly bode well, based on every other small business expert’s advice.
Mainstream society doesn’t understand why someone can’t just pick a niche and revolve everything they create or do around that one subject.
Society can’t understand why someone can’t specialize in a specific subject or topic. As a community, we can’t understand how to pick one thing and stick with it for long periods of time. It isn’t in our DNA.
Multipotentialism in Business
As a multipotentialite in business, things can get very tricky in terms of actually picking a direction and moving forward with it. There really isn’t a lot of information on how to maneuver in a business world that focuses on becoming a specialist. Emilie has become a great source of information, but sometimes it takes another point of view to help someone really understand what is trying to come across. Jaclyn has been kind enough to let me lend a hand in that aspect to address all of you, her wonderful community, about how to attack branding when you have as many interests as you do.
There are a couple of directions that you can choose to take your business in to be able to appease your multipotential personality.
You can choose to make each interest or passion into a different entity. For instance, if you are passionate about writing, coaching, planning, designing, and personal fashion, you can turn each one into a different business. As you get income from each business, you can hire more help to keep things running smoother and give you a bit of a break, but you still are able to satisfy your different interests. This is the method that many experts advise. They want to make sure that you end up becoming an expert in one of the subjects and then you can take on the next subject and become an expert in that. I’m not saying this isn’t a possibility - it can totally happen and in fact, it does.
My favorite direction is to create one business that encompasses everything. Now, don’t get all dramatic on me and believe that I am saying to build a business that includes your love of animals, your passion for fashion, and your obsession of feet together. I am saying that if you’re interested in writing, blogging, designing, coaching, planning, and health, then build a business that encompasses all of that. It creates less work for me personally and I still end up being able to satisfy my different interests. It can be great working with a client for something like designing their website and then have them mention that they need to find someone who can take over the copywriting for their website and being able to say that you do that too!
You already have a great working relationship (hopefully) and it should be a no-brainer for this client to hire you out for additional services.
Creating Your Brand
If you decide to take the route of separate businesses per interest, then it stands to reason that each business should have it’s own brand. They really shouldn’t overlap all that much, besides them being all run and a part of you and your identity. If you take this route, follow the advice that mainstream experts give you: decide on a niche, create content that revolves around it, and start to build your expert status up within that community.
There’s nothing wrong with this route and it has certainly worked tremendously for multiple people. It may be the path that works best for the different interests that you hold. This is something that you have to really pay attention to when trying to determine whether or not to turn your other interests into a business or keep them as hobbies.
When it comes to branding multiple seemingly unrelated interests, it can be overwhelming to try and create a strategy towards attacking this. I recently started thinking through this question and how I was going to answer it for my own business. Emilie suggested to create an overarching theme encompassing your interests and make that your business.
I want to take it a step further.
Let’s go back to the example interests I listed: writing, blogging, designing, coaching, planning, and health. These all have several things in common, especially when it comes to how you want to apply it. If I say that I’m interested in all of those things AND I want to apply it to the 37 - 55 year old women entrepreneur range, then my overarching theme can be “support for the entrepreneur who doesn’t have time to learn all new business strategies.” I can take my interests and become a sort of virtual assistant that focuses on helping women who just don’t have time to learn everything that I already know.
So we have my overarching theme, as Emilie teaches, but I want to take it a bit further and craft my brand from this. I don’t want to be branded as a virtual assistant or as entrepreneurial support. Those are such boring titles and the idea of deciding on and calling myself a title to market with causes me anxiety. What happens if I choose the wrong title? What do I do if I call myself this title and then get bored again? I decided that instead of creating an overall theme and using that as my brand, I’m going to use it as a way to answer the “what do you do” question.
I have branded myself as a multipotentialite. My website, Bright Colors Happy Things, is going to include all of the different interests that I hold. Every single blog post I write will include a bit about how I have decided to take that particular interest and create a vital role for it within my business.
Every product that I create will address one interest in particular, with the other interests tapped on and showcased their use in my customer’s lives. The best part is I don’t have to pick and choose what I want to create. I don’t have to create a product that teaches my customers something, because I’m not labeled a teacher. I don’t have to stick to helping entrepreneurs with their administrative tasks because I am not labeled a virtual assistant. I don’t have to make or provide a particular service because I have chosen not to label myself with a particular job title. My label - my tagline - is the writing multipotentialite entrepreneur.
Conclusion + Action Steps
When my community talks about me, I am not talked about in one profession or one industry. I am talked about in many industries and many professions. I don’t get anxious over the possibility that I might have decided myself into a hole with no room to pursue other passions or interests and I get to expand my creativity more than I could possibility imagine.
Branding your business gives it personality and makes your customers and clients want to come back. Don’t hold off on branding - take this new direction of branding. If you’re like me and you’ve spent years trying to figure out what your one passion/niche was, then I’m sure you have plenty of worksheets that ask you to pick from a list of suggested niches. If you’re a multipotentialite, you never were able to pick only one. Go back to these worksheets. Find out what your passions are and try to figure out your overall theme and then figure out what you are going to produce to make sure that you are viewed in a way that communicates your overall theme.
Here’s where I give you a bit of review of everything that I wrote (mostly for those who skimmed the whole post) and give you some action steps so that you can put this information to good use! So here are the following points:
List out all of your interests, anything that you can’t imagine editing out of your life or you are interested in making into a business
- Decide on whether you want to create separate businesses for your interests or one all-encompassing business
- Don’t niche down just because someone else told you too
- If you create separate businesses, start developing each brand separately
- If you create one all-encompassing business, start to think about your overall arching theme
- Craft ideas on products, content, and services that you can offer to your community that will be in line with your overall theme
- Don’t be afraid to rebrand frequently - just make sure to do it right
- Use your instinct to expand and move in different areas to your advantage
- Don’t be afraid to go completely against the “experts” - it’s your business, you can do whatever you want with it
I hope you found this post interesting and helpful! Please let me know if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns about anything in a comment below. Have a bright and colorful day!
Kaylee is a creative writing multipotentialite entrepreneur whose biggest passion in life is to help business owners, fellow bloggers, and all around bright and happy people be the best they can possibly be. She has always been a writer and is now using her super powers of cheeky, but fun writing to help influence and guide others. When she is not writing, she's reading - whether for business, pleasure, or school. Feel free to yell to get her attention - or you can just email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.