Operating in an industry with a high barrier to entry certainly has its benefits. There’s less competition, you can charge premium prices, and your credibility is clearly defined by degrees, licenses, awards, milestones, etc. A personal brand is much easier to exploit. But if you’re a service provider, consultant, or coach operating in an industry with low barriers to entry (think realtors or photographers), you have to approach self-promotion, sales, and personal branding in a much more strategic way.
As someone coming from an image consulting background, I know full on what it’s like operating in an industry with an extremely low barrier to entry. You could wake up tomorrow and decide you’re going to be an image consultant because you like to read style magazines or have spent hours people watching in an airport. Throw up a website, print some business cards, and you’re in business. Would you be successful? Maybe; but most likely you’ll be overlooked by potential clients who are too busy paying attention to the guy who did take the initiative to obtain additional education, licenses, certifications or training.
So here’s the bad news: If you are in an industry with a low barrier to entry, you HAVE to be an over-achiever in order to succeed long-term and really generate revenue. Go big or go home. There are thousands (if not millions) of people doing what you’re doing and unfortunately it only takes one bad egg to ruin it for the rest. Also, you’ll notice a correlation between overall negative perceptions and industries with a lower barrier to entry (sorry financial advisors, insurance salesman, and even image consultants). So you’ll have to overcome that as well. And if you want to charge premium pricing, you better be able to walk the talk.
But there is good news: You have full control over the situation and perception of your business. Meaning, separating yourself from the crowd is really fairly simple (not easy but simple). People will appreciate the atypical and refreshingly genuine personal brand you bring to the table by straying from the perceived and often negative norms of your industry. In addition, the credentials you’ve sought that aren’t necessary for your field but worthwhile to pursue will show people you take your job more seriously; that you have a passion for what you’re doing. And the best part about working in a low-barrier-to-entry field is that you can capitalize on your personality and natural strengths to rise you to the top.
The bottom line: Lower barriers to entry means more work and strategy on your end to outshine your competitors. Developing an action plan for self-promotion and positioning is imperative and a focus on relationships is key. Doing high-quality work is not enough these days. Don’t be overlooked, ignored or underutilized because you lack consistent self-marketing and promotion. Recognize your own self worth. It’s up to you to take control over the growth of your professional life.