Don’t believe your own hype

Hyping up your business as a bootstrapper is necessary, but even though it’s currently cool to be a ‘startup’, it’s not going to instil confidence in your prospective customers that you have no history (at least in the B2B world). So we need to hype up our business and our products, we have to build up a picture of a budding company with customers clambering to get on board to create a buzz around us.

Most business founders do this, if not intentionally, then just because we are so passionate about what we’re doing. The danger though, is that we start to believe our own hype. Once we’re on the road to believing we’re a rock star CEO, it can be hard to pull back and take stock. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aspire to be rock star CEO’s, and act like one, but if you truly believe you are one, then your business could be in trouble.

When founding my first business, I came from a series of startups that had mostly been successful and sold to large corporates, so I had some experience of small startups and large corporates. I applied the same strategy that I had seemed to work for the startups I had worked in, “fake it till you make it”. It worked, we were perceived as being a cash rich company with a cool brand and unique culture. We had customers that started their own support forums, and evangelised our company and products to their friends and colleagues. We even had customers creating forum signatures that told the world that they were with the fastest ISP in the UK, us. It would have been easy in this situation to turn rock star, but being a startup and a founder wasn’t particularly cool then, at least I wasn’t aware of it, so I was plainly the Managing Director of a small business.

In the current hyped up, geeked up startup world, I imagine it can be very difficult not to believe your own hype. For the sake of your business and yourself though, try to stay grounded, and have gratitude for the amazing opportunity you have to create something.


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