Can confidence be curated? Many popular business phrases should be taken with a grain of salt. Find out how the phrase “fake it till you make it” will either make or break your startup.
Everyone has a different definition of success, but even if it is subjective, we always want something more. For many aspiring entrepreneurs, they look towards confident CEOs, using them as a blueprint for success. That’s where business phrases like “fake it till you make it” (FITYMI) stem from, and this comforting piece of advice is here to boost someone’s confidence and be used as an excuse to pretend to be someone else. In the startup world, the phrase is also used to buy time while growing businesses figure out the logistics of their funding. Many startups have fallen victim to taking it too far. One major case is that of Elizabeth Holmes and her Silicon Valley startup, a cautionary tale of faking it to the point of no return.
Some would argue that there are also positive examples of FITYMI: Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were known to fake it during the beginning of their careers and they are two of the most influential founding entrepreneurs of the technology industry. To help you decide whether or not “fake it till you make it” will break or make your startup, we’ve compiled a list of strategies on how to properly hone in on this business phrase.
Honesty Is the Best Policy
How far can we fake it before realising we don’t actually have it? One downside of FITYMI is that it is simply a temporary solution. In a dinner meeting with a potential client, you start out with a bang, having all the answers to different questions, and appearing to have it all together, but what happens if they ask you a question that is not in your area of expertise? Your facade will disappear, and the confidence you tried so hard to impose will crumble. This is why it is important to stay within the limits of your knowledge, and be comfortable with not having an answer to everything. Doing the research and preparation in advance will only have long term benefits for your business.
Be Open to Learning Opportunities
Pretending that you know everything not only will cause you to lose trust, it also prevents you from having opportunities to gain new knowledge. You do not have to advertise that you are unfamiliar with a topic, but a lot of people actually like to be asked questions, especially if they are an expert in the subject matter themselves. Although it’s good to have answers to every question, it is just as beneficial to have the eagerness to learn more. This can give an impression to your future investors that you are willing to improve and try new things.
Pouring Cement over Cracked Concrete
A business has its success and failures, and if we cut out the negative and only show the positive, covering up your mistakes is like pouring cement over cracked concrete. It may be hard to see, but the cracks are still there, and the root of the problem has not been solved, potentially resulting in even further damage. Transparency is highly valued, and being able to confront, resolve, and learn from your mistakes can empower your employees, making you a good leader.
From “Me” to “We”
The best way to FITYMI is to make your branding strategy professional, even if your company only consists of 1 to 2 people, it’s important to make it seem like you have a whole company. Changing all your businesses pronouns from “I” to “We”, creating a professional logo, spending extra time and money on packaging, and investing more in your company, will all be beneficial in the long run.
As entrepreneurs, it is often intimidating to meet with investors, FITYMI allows you to have a more optimistic outlook on your business, because if you aren’t confident in your work, then how are you going to convince others? It is a great tool to use if you need to boost your confidence a little temporarily so you won’t mumble and stumble over your presentation. Investors themselves have the power to make or break your startup, so this is where business phrases are ultimately beneficial.
Just Do It
FITYMI will be beneficial for your startup’s efficiency level, with confidence comes less time for worrying and more for taking action. Oftentimes, fear holds someone back from taking risk. It is not recommended to take risk carelessly, but once you are able to gauge and master your expertise and knowledge background, faking it allows your brain to block and overcome any self-doubt during decision making processes. In the case of many well-known startups, taking a leap of faith has resulted in success. Steve Jobs started Apple out of his parents’ garage, and a lack of confidence may have resulted in his product never reaching the market and growing to the company it is today.
The phrase “fake it till you make it” is controversial: some say it is the best piece of advice they’ve ever received and some say it is detrimental to your business. There is no official conclusion as it often depends on the individual or startup, but it is important to know when and where appropriate to apply business phrases. Whether it’s faking it till you make it, or faking it till you become it, it is important to balance usage of this phrase and not let it break your startup.