Entrepreneurs are funny creatures. We represent that rare breed of an individual who is willing to take exceptional risks and invest our most precious asset (time) into something that starts out as nothing more than a simple idea or belief. We work tirelessly to grow that fledgling concept into a viable business that in best case leaves an indelible imprint on the world around us and at worst, embodies what some like to call “a good learning experience.”
Along that journey, we make myriad decisions, some small and some so important that they can fundamentally alter the trajectory of a business. Some decisions are what I refer to as inward-facing, things like how to design the product, who and when to hire, whether to raise investment capital for the business, determining if a pivot is necessary and valuable and so on.
Other decisions are outward-facing, meaning they directly touch and impact others. These include touting an impressive track record with a potential client looking for validation, being open and honest with team members about the highs and lows of growing a small business, accurately reporting metrics to customers, investors and stakeholders and of course the questionable “fake it ‘til you make it” approach employed by many entrepreneurs.
We as entrepreneurs are constantly faced with decisions where we can choose to take the honest route or we can follow an approach more closely aligned with faking it until we make it.
It’s not up to me to judge those who follow the latter as many of us can understand the desire to punch above our weight class, especially when it comes to a business that not only represents our blood, sweat and tears but also our professional livelihoods. That said, the journey of growing a startup is filled with tremendous emotional highs and lows and is often filled with periods of intense doubt and loneliness. And it’s during those times where we spend many a moment looking at ourselves in the mirror, wondering what we’re doing and how to progress the business forward.
Prior to launching This App Saves Lives (TASL), a mobile app-based solution designed to put an end to distracted driving, I had built and sold one business and also failed to scale another. Across these successful and “good learning” experiences, I’ve found that knowing that you’ve been honest with yourself, your colleagues, your customers and your stakeholders provides an important added level of comfort and confidence that helps drive us through those challenges and perilous days. And although our business at TASL has reached an important growth stage, no matter what happens in the future I can look back at the decisions we’ve made and feel proud that our choices were conducted with the utmost integrity in mind.