When a business is in its infancy, it is a seeker. This amorphous object called a startup seeks to understand what is the right product/service for the right target market. The business journey to find product/market fit is fueled by time and money. No amount of dreaming or planning nails this on Day One so eventually most startups run out of time and money.
Buddhists talk about “absolute truth” in terms of your person, but what if you applied this thinking to business? What if your goal is not to build a huge business on Day One but your goal is to reveal the true essence of your business?
There are so many resources for us to use to improve our business, identify new customers, recruit new employees, lead our team more effectively, create and maintain a certain culture; the list goes on and on.
What if we took a different approach? What if we asked a different set of questions? What if instead of optimizing what we were already doing, we took a step back and examined what the truth is in our business?
I came across this quote from the preeminent newsman of his time, Edward, R. Murrow. “To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful.”
As a founder or executive we are always trying to persuade somebody to do something on our behalf. Join our team. Buy my product. Purchase my book. Guest post my article. Use my space. Invest in my company.
Everyone of these goals requires a high level of credibility. Great sales people are able to bring this (some fake it perfectly). For the rest of us mere mortals we actually have to be credible.
Mark Twain once said that a liar has to have a great memory. In business it is always dangerous to extend the truth past a narrow band of credibility. Paint too rosy a picture and people call B.S. Yet somehow, new entrepreneurs are taught to exaggerate to levels far outside the realm of truth.
Every founder has the opportunity to create a business level of credibility that matches the truth in his or her business. Then tomorrow you do it again and advance that boulder up the hill just a little bit higher. Then turn around and do it again the next day. Some days you move the boulder a lot and some days the boulder rolls back a little. This is the truth in a startup business.
What are your truths?
We love every one of our customers. We are a team of passionate employees. We have a culture of total transparency. We are not evil. We do the right thing every time.
Every growing business must find their truth. If you find truth you become credible. If you are credible, people will believe you. If people believe you, you can ask them to do anything.
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Posted by Chris Heivly
Speaker, investor, mentor, startup founder. One of 3 or 4 Co-Founders of MapQuest (sold to AOL for $1.2B). Managing Director of $25M Venture Fund in late 90's. CEO, COO or President of various companies ranging from $200k to $20M in size. Currently, I am one of two Managing Directors of The Startup Factory making 10-14 seed investments per year, founder and MC of the Big Top Job Fair and national writer and speaker waxing poetic around startups and startup communities.