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Are you authentic in business?

Monday, 6 February 2012 | By Jo Burston

I talk to a lot of people about their new business ideas, start-up companies and fast growth/successful ventures. Some dream to simply replace a job, others dream of a NASDAQ listing and a billion dollar EBITA. There is a lot of talk. A lot of white noise going on out there.

 

When I ask exactly what the business does, I usually hear two types of responses; unbelievable or authentic.

 

The unbelievable response is how successful it is going to be or how amazingly successful it is, followed by a 15 minute blurb about operations, markets, changes, variables and team qualities. By the end of it, I still do not have any idea what the company really does or where it is going, but apparently it is already super successful.

 

I look at the person knowing I haven’t heard the truth.

 

These people are often incredibly sincere and genuine and have no issue being authentic in their private lives. But when it comes to their business, the business is described as being often far more successful and much bigger than it really is. And in their own mind it is much more than if I was to see the actual financials and business plans, talk to their team or just speak to a customer.

 

The response I get from an authentic person is truthful. A one line description of the business vision, its mission and the anticipated target in a defined period of time, normally a status quo of where it’s at and an exit strategy (which may or may not be disclosed) and it usually has a big audacious goal; a real purpose.

 

The business owner will then go on to talk about some barriers, maybe where there is a sticking point, describe their USP and insight into what makes them genuinely different to anyone else in their industry.

 

They ask for feedback or possibly a connection to someone that can overcome a business barrier and then listen to my response.

 

I always wait my turn and talk about Job Capital or my other businesses Cleaning Maid Easy, ClaimYourTax.com, My Oz Job (in launch phase). I communicate my vision, mission, goals and barriers.

 

I seek out their feedback and understanding of what they believe (in their experience) I could do better to bring greater value to my businesses. How I can improve what I am doing, how I can learn from others mistakes and how I can, in reciprocation, leverage off their networks. This is totally authentic and very genuine.

 

I know not every business I start will be a success; I have no problem with this. Some are breaking even, some are now profitable, some are just getting started and some are spectacularly successful. I have also failed in two other business ventures, which took a personal toll, but really were great lessons.

 

I have great days and I have rotten days. There will always be challenge, success and failures. I have days where I am emotionally drained and days of pure exhilaration and inspiration. Appearing super-successful all the time won’t achieve legitimacy.

 

It is far more important for people to see who you are rather than what you appear to be. If your words match up with your actions, then your credibility will start to grow. Anything else and you will come off as dodgy or the person that can’t be trusted.

 

Your opinions also then become invalid.

 

Credibility and legitimacy builds authenticity; doing things right, versus how you think people want to perceive you is the difference between success and failure.

 

The truth is what matters and what counts. It comes out in the end anyway.

 

Your authentic self and authentic business self are pretty much one and the same. Don’t lose sight and start pretending everything is perfect, successful and awesome everyday. It doesn’t take much to see through it!