It’s so easy to lie to yourself at the best of times, never mind when you’re getting started in entrepreneurship. Then, it becomes all too undemanding to fall into the trap of spouting some ill-advised common lies entrepreneurs tell themselves.
I’ve always hated the phrase flatter to deceive. It’s one of those cliches that lazy sports commentators use to describe the way a sports team is playing. The thing is, it’s damn accurate. And, it is so easy to do as an entrepreneur, founder or any other type of fledgling business owner.
Why? Because in the early stages, everything is about first impressions, first results and getting off to a good start. So you must appear promising at all times, no matter if nothing seems to be going right behind the scenes.
But no, it’s time to stop this self-destructive trend of behavior. Right now.
Common lies entrepreneurs tell themselves: an introduction
So why do entrepreneurs enjoy telling lies, especially to themselves? Fear or failure is one explanation. Nonacceptance of failure is another. To get ahead perhaps. To keep their morale high. Or simply, because they can, is another point of view.
Perhaps they have recently quit a “day job” that sucks the life out of them in search of the entrepreneurial dream and they’re 100% sure that their amazing product or project will blow everything out of the water.
Or maybe those early warning signs pointing to the need of a pivot are just “minor hiccups” to the founder, and they tell themselves that they just need to weather the storm and stay the course.
Truth starts with you
What many do not realize, is that we are all on a lifelong mission to be true to ourselves. Some do realize it. Others simply don’t care. Either way the foundation of inner fulfillment starts with staying true to yourself. And being truthful in general. Or at least that’s the way it should be.
If you are true to yourself, your customers (and potential customers) and especially your peers, the benefits can be hugely rewarding. If not, as mentioned, the results can be a catastrophe, both personally and professionally as you lose friends and acquaintances along with the failure of your business.
The fact is entrepreneurs are notoriously well-known for bending the truths they tell themselves. Or in more blunt words, there are some key common lies entrepreneurs tell themselves. And these should be avoided at all costs.
What are these lies, then?
Surely if you are an entrepreneur or founder, or have worked at a startup, fledgling venture, or small business you will recognize a few of these, which represent some of the most common porky pies (that’s lies to the non-British people reading this):
The success/failure-themed lies
- This is definitely going to make me rich!
- I can do this on my own
- I’ll just work harder
- If we build the right product, people will come and sign up
- As long as we get this initial funding round then we’ll succeed
- I don’t need marketing
- I don’t need to read books
The work-life balance-themed lies
- I’m only doing it for my family
- My partner/spouse/significant other “understands”
- All I need is this startup to succeed then I can slow down or retire
- I’ll make up for my absence by devoting “quality time” with my loved ones
There are many more. The main point is this. The truth starts at home. What do I mean by that? Simple. You must be truthful to yourself before you can stop both lying to yourself, and more dangerously, to those working with you or for you. Otherwise, your hope for a culture of trust is out the window.
Why these lies can be fatal
Arguably the simplest and most exciting part of entrepreneurship is when you are sitting at your desk. Either at home or whatever co-working space or startup accelerator you find yourself at. And what do you do? What humans do best. Imagine your success and how it will be. You picture your product bringing in customers and revenues easily, on a steady “hockey-stick” chart basis. This is the first point of failure in terms of lying to yourself. Being so sure that your big idea or product will succeed as perhaps one of the most common lies entrepreneurs tell themselves.
Instead of dreaming about the $, the successful entrepreneurs and founders are looking at how they can constantly evolve the products and improve. And not just thinking of improvements, but how to do it the most cost-effective way. Or as we like to call it here at Starttech Ventures, product development efficiency.
Regarding the other points of the success/failure category, you simply need to accept that:
No, you can’t do everything on your own
Without “experts” who are actually better than you in the key areas of business (including engineering and development) are absolutely integral to your success. It’s all about the team.
No, just working“harder” is not enough
For sure it will help, but these days it’s about working smarter and using startup automation as much as possible.
No, if you build the right product, people will not necessarily come and sign up
They have to be shown, educated and informed that they not only need it, but that their life will be so much more difficult without it. Oh yes, and they have to be able to afford it, and understand its value.
No, you don’t need that initial funding round to guarantee your success
More often than not, funding can be a disaster. It can make you sloppy and focus on the wrong things, just burning money into an empty put until there’s none left and the growth you predicted that the funding would deliver is not forthcoming. Why? Because you had no real, tangible plan for the funding.
No, you can’t just say that you don’t need marketing
Maybe you don’t need a big budget for it (that’ a different discussion), but any entrepreneur who scoffs at the importance of marketing, is not going anywhere.
And yes, you do need to read books
Educational and inspirational literature on entrepreneurship and related subjects can shed light on ways and means you never thought possible.
The work-life balance-themed lies are pretty self-explanatory. Many of us are already telling ourselves these kinds of lies in our regular day jobs. It just gets multiplied when you set out on your own with a brave new venture. You simply recognize them for what they are – lies and excuses – and manage those aspects of your life better in a conscious way.
In the end, like many things in life, the power you need to handle common lies entrepreneurs tell themselves is within you. The battle is with yourself, first, then your competition.
Don’t flatter to deceive. Instead of appearing promising but ultimately disappointing yourself and others (including your customers), stay away from these common lies entrepreneurs tell themselves.
Let the truth set you free.