Why Authenticity Matters In Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs are important to the world and society in general. Some propose innovative solutions to some of the most challenging issues humans face. Others have scaled their company to greatness because of solid products or services and excellent marketing campaigns. However, there’s another aspect to consider: how authentic is your startup?
Authenticity is the kind of trait that can help you far and beyond just business success: it can also help your relationships and help you live a more transparent life. More and more, the most authentic leaders are the ones that seem to be the most effective. Your employees will be more motivated and fulfilled in their role, but it can also help increase customer loyalty.
Let’s examine WHY authenticity can be crucial to your career, startup, or business. Here’s why authenticity matters more than you may know in your entrepreneurship journey.
Getting Clear About Your Vision
What does it mean when a person is “authentic?” We can all admit: It can be a broad and vague term. However, it usually means that you feel they live according to certain beliefs and seem to stand by them openly and honestly.
It might not surprise you that the process is similar for an authentic startup. They have core values that they believe in, operate according to those values, and can communicate what matters to them and why.
This will be INCREDIBLY important on your startup journey, as well. Your startup needs to be clear about its vision, what it’s solving, the kind of customers it needs to thrive, and how it will scale in the short-term and long-term. This clarity can also inform your marketing/branding campaigns, how you pitch to VCs, and lay the foundation for your company culture.
You Differentiate Yourself Immediately
There’s a good chance you’ve experienced something like this before. You’re interested in a brand of a certain product: deodorant, for example. You use it often and are satisfied with the product, but it’s nothing too special.
One day, you come across an incredibly hilarious and honest deodorant commercial from a competing brand. Months later, you’ve found that you’ve purchased the other deodorant, partially because you felt the commercial was funnier or “more real” than the other brand’s. Of course, this doesn’t apply to just deodorant: it could apply to cleaning supplies, streaming services, or SaaS companies. According to a 2017 report, 86% claim that authenticity is important when it comes to brands they support
No one wants to be lied to. There are all sorts of entrepreneurs and startups who aren’t honest about certain things. Some might exaggerate their metrics, claim they have partnerships that they don’t, and the most flagrant may even outwardly lie about their numbers. If you can remain authentic, then there’s a good chance that customers will gravitate towards your products or services.
Using Social Media As A Superpower
In the past, experts and consultants might tell CEOs to stay away from offering their opinions too much. The game has now changed: some of the most successful CEOs in the world are vocal about their polarizing opinions, and many have been able to leverage social media to help their startup connect and resonate with their users.
Customers can often tell which leaders are being genuine about their thoughts and beliefs, and who is simply going through the motions. Tesla is one of the world’s most valuable car companies, and many believe in the company’s business model.
One reason is that its founder, Elon Musk, has leveraged social media to become one of the biggest tech influencers in the world. Musk boasts over 100 million followers on Twitter, over 4x the followers of Joe Biden, the President of the United States. In fact, one can consider him a modern “celebrity CEO,” and social media has been important in elevating him to this status.
He often uses social media to speak about Tesla, elaborate on future plans, and showcase his personality. Startup founders don’t need to turn to social media to establish a personal brand, but it can often be a catalyst for growth they never expected. Many startup founders also document their growth through social media, which can help attract better talent and more customers.
Authenticity Can Be Contagious
When you hear about startups that failed, you’ll often see that there are many of the same problems. In some cases, departments of the startup were told not to speak to one other. This was the case with the famous failed health technology company Theranos, which crashed and burned thanks to founders who were willing to deceive investors and their own employees.
If your employees are scared to talk about their challenges - guess what? Your startup is clearly doing things wrong. If the founder of a startup can be open and honest, it encourages everyone to be more open and communicative about what they’re going through. This kind of communication is essential for a startup during its growth stages because transparency allows startups to react quickly to changing market conditions.
If employees know that they can trust their founder to be transparent, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to retain employees longer as you scale.
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