The Authentic Business

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This is the first post in a three-part series. Review part two, "The Nine Components of Extraordinary Leadership," or part three, "Creating the Culture of Extraordinary Business." This post from Wayne Ottum originally appeared on his blog and is reprinted here with permission.

"The advent of Google+ and the emergence of the personalized web means this is more true than ever. Brands, and their advertising partners, must wake up to this challenge and define themselves with clarity, consistency and authenticity. Otherwise they just might find themselves shouting in a ghost town." —Simon Mainwaring

If Simon Mainwaring’s warning holds true, and I believe it to be so, then a business must be built on clarity, consistency and authenticity to stand the test of time. We have discussed how you create clarity in your business with a defined strategic foundation (vision, mission and values). We have also talked about how consistency of action can be obtained through a strengths-based performance management system. So then, what does it mean to define your business with authenticity? What is an authentic business and why is it important to be one?

To begin, let’s look at the definition of the word authentic. It means:

• Not false or copied; genuine; real

• Having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified

• Entitled to acceptance or belief because of agreement with known facts or experience; reliable; trustworthy

An authentic business, therefore, is one that, quite simply, is genuine and real and where those working in the business (management and staff) are also genuine and real. It is where those who experience your business (clients, partners, suppliers, etc.) see an agreement between what you say and what you do, and what you claim and what you deliver. They see agreement between your brand elements (logo, tag lines, mottos, etc.) and what they ultimately get in value. Evidence also backs this agreement, generally in the form of some kind of subjective or objective rating system.

The Why and How of Authenticity

Why is it important to be an authentic business? This too has a simple and direct answer. When you go online to shop for a product, how many times do you purchase products rated three stars or below? What then would it mean to your business if you were rated a one, two or three-star business? What about a five-star business? These ratings are being made about your business (or will be) and broadcast to the world through Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Yelp, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Thus, the only way to ensure your ratings are the highest possible is to be authentic and deliver what you promise! It is that simple.

Finally, how do you create an authentic business? Once again, the answer is simple. Not necessarily easy, but definitely simple. Here is the process:

• Clearly define your strategic foundation, the definition of who you are uniquely as a business

• Clearly define your business’ unique value proposition

• Align your branding elements to your strategic foundation and value proposition

• Clearly define your value chain, the process of how you create value for your clients

• Define the measures of success for each step in the value chain; these are your organization’s performance standards

• Align the position descriptions of staff to these standards

• Measure and manage all staff to these standards

• Reward the behavior

Unless you have these things in place, you cannot know for certain that you are truly an authentic business. But when these things are defined and implemented, you dramatically increase the chance of success for your business and even more dramatically increase the chance of fulfillment in that success for you and your staff.

If you would like more information on our Lead from Strength™ methodology and how we can help you take your culture, business and leadership to the next level and create an authentic business, send us an email at For more information about what it means to Lead from Strength™ , visit us at

About the Author

Wayne Ottum

Wayne Ottum is President and Founder of Ottum Enterprises, LLC and a passionate consultant, author and speaker dedicated to creating extraordinary businesses and leaders. With over 30 years of experience in the fields of business, education and consulting, Wayne guides business owners and leaders to Lead from Strength™ to achieve the clarity of direction, focus and authenticity that naturally drives their business to ever greater levels of success. Follow him on Twitter at @WayneOttum or @OttumEnterprise, and find him on LinkedIn.

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Published: 05/01/2017

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