The key to freedom and independence is thought leadership

Sitting here in my UK office while my family and U.S.-based friends are taking the day off and attending barbecues and fireworks, I’m reflecting on what real freedom and independence look like.

I moved across the pond 23 years ago (hard to believe!) and I am grateful I had the freedom to make that choice. I became self-employed 12 years ago. and feel the joy of independence on a regular basis. Running your own business is exciting and challenging, and there is never a dull moment. However, I’ve come to believe that you only begin to do well in business once you have momentum and traction.

Traction is where clients refer more clients, going viral as people share your ideas and insights in traditional and on social media. It’s where the prospective customer feels they are missing out if they don’t get in touch and work with you. It’s all about the buzz. This is the definition of thought leadership: having unique and original ideas and being recognised for them. And, ideally, creating that buzz.

When speaking to audiences, I am fond of using my snowball analogy: if you take a little time to pack the snowball before you send it down the hill, it will gain speed and pick up more snow (followers) and generally get larger and larger.

The metaphor, of course, is an obvious one, but I still see people throwing snow around instead of packing neat snowballs before sending them down the hill. These folks are putting out useless posts and updates devoid of value. Their blogs don’t say anything exciting or original. And their books! Well, don’t even get me started…

It’s not all bad news, though. I see real thought leaders putting out interesting ideas in the right format, and getting attention from the right people. I see books, articles, blogs, videos and speeches that are shaking things up and opening doors for the author. Four of my authors last year won business worth six figures, by using their books strategically. So it can be done.

The real key to freedom and independence definitely lies in working for yourself and creating your own future. And the way to get more of the right kind of business flowing in is by packing that snowball carefully with your best thought leadership, and sending it flying down the hill. Ah, freedom! Happy Fourth of July!