Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Catherine Kaputa, Owner of SelfBrand, located in New York, NY, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

As an entrepreneur, I think it’s important to build your business around what you know and are passionate about. My company, SelfBrand, combines my personal experience in my advertising career and my business experience in marketing, advertising, and coaching.

From Madison Avenue to Wall Street to a top business school, I honed my skills in marketing products and places. But I came to realize that the best use of branding was not for products but for people. That’s why my focus at Selfbrand is giving people the tools for career success and personal happiness.

My target audience is corporate employees and entrepreneurs, people who are smart and talented but not as good as they’d like in marketing themselves, achieving career success and personal fulfillment.

Tell us about yourself

I’d like to tell you that I became a solo entrepreneur as a result of a lot of careful planning and a blinding flash of insight – a big idea that I knew couldn’t fail. But it didn’t happen that way. I got started in entrepreneurship out of necessity.

Of course, I had been thinking of being an entrepreneur someday (particularly after a bad day in the office). But that day came upon me suddenly when I lost my high-powered corporate branding job after an economic downturn. I have burned out anyway and didn’t want to go back to a life driven by work, constant deadlines, and anxiety.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I’ve written five books on personal branding and marketing. Breakthrough Branding, winner of the silver medal in the Book of the Year Awards (business category), is for entrepreneurs. My new book is The New Brand You: How to Wow in the New World of Work (out November 15, 2022). The workplace is more digitally driven than ever, with an ever-expanding remote and hybrid workforce. Now personal branding is no longer optional.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

To build a successful business, you have to be willing to leverage every asset and pursue every opportunity – whether your dream is to create a large-scale enterprise or a successful solo venture. That’s why it’s important to think brand and build a personal brand – Brand You – in tandem with your business brand like so many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have done.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Start with a “small” idea. Everyone talks about finding the “big idea,” but ideas that become big start out small in the sense that they are clearly focused. You want to own an idea that’s focused, not an it-can-do-everything brand. As they say, the smaller the business plan, the greater your start-up’s potential.
  2. Build your personal brand in tandem with your business brand. You want to be known and have visibility too, and be synonymous with your business brand. That’s why my formula for success is Personal Brand + Business Brand = Breakthrough Brand.
  3. Think Outside-In: What reaction do you want to get from your customers (Inside), and what do you have to do to get that reaction (Outside)? Or, what do my clients need (Inside), and how can I satisfy that need? This will help you keep a pulse on what’s happening in your industry and with your target audience.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Above all, be different. Being different is a cardinal rule of branding. Yet many people launch me-too businesses and wonder why they don’t succeed. You need a different something: a new way of working with clients, a different process, a secret sauce that offers value to customers. It’s your USP (Unique Selling Propositioning), the distinctive idea that brands are always searching for. It’s the value proposition that resonates with your target audience.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.