Staying true to yourself is not as simple as it sounds, especially when running your own business. You may often feel the urge to conform to a stereotypical notion of what it means to be an entrepreneur. But the truth is, being an entrepreneur has many definitions and the journey is different for every individual.

Knowing who you are, both as an individual and as a business owner, will help you set yourself apart from others on the same journey as well as inspire others to believe in your vision. Lastly, it will help build your business since your passions and interests will shape the solutions and products your company offers.

If you’re struggling to figure out what makes you or your business special, here are some things to consider.

Businesses and business ideas are rarely unique, but your vision is. Take a coffee shop, for example. There are tens of thousands across Canada and new ones pop up every week. It is in no way an innovative idea on its own, but somehow many continue to flourish—despite corporate giants dominating the mainstream market. Why? Because they bring something unique to their clients. Whether it’s a rustic feel born from the owner’s love of country architecture or classic novels embedded in a glass staircase inspired by a founder’s passion for literature, people will notice these details and continue to come back because of them.

Don’t underestimate the power of your business’ story. When people are looking to purchase a product online, it is pretty common for them to look at the business’ ‘About Us’ page. This is the section that explains the business’ origin, its mission and vision – essentially the part of the business, besides the actual product/service, that people care about the most. Don’t let this section be an afterthought – your business’ story could be the difference between a customer buying from you or one of your competitors. This also applies to entrepreneurs who are hiring staff. Potential employees want to see the personality of the company to see if its vision and culture align with their own values.

Part of being yourself is carrying your passions in whatever you do. As a new entrepreneur, your primary concern is likely generating enough sales to keep your company in the black. However, customers want to see that there is a heart and soul behind the shiny exterior. While you might feel contributing your voice to certain social causes isn’t that important, letting your inner passions shine through might actually give your business an edge over others in your market. For example, the B Corp movement is a great example of how commerce can be used as a force for good.

Whatever it is you do in life or as an entrepreneur, make sure it’s authentic to you. People will stand behind it, you’ll find support from your community and you’ll feel better about it as it continues to grow.

Written by: Sara Pivato, Social Media and Content Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada