Wednesday, 29 June 2011 14:44

Courting authenticity

Anne Morrow Lindbergh said the most exhausting thing you can do is to be inauthentic.


Authenticity is so vital to brand values and the power of the niche enterprise that to try to work outside of your authentic self is akin to the exertion of telling a small lie and watching it snowball to an ever-greater deception, all the time trying to maintain a valid market face.


In the heat of a start-up, it is easy to forget to take time to closely decipher your brand’s values, and what sits at its heart. Lets face it: who thinks about creating their authentic brand experience while in the midst of the frisson of start-up land.


Many a marketer would argue that an authentic brand evolves from an integrity soup that has brand, product, customer interaction and a host of intangible spices as part of its mix.


If you are starting to panic as to whether you have authenticity nailed or are creating your own exhausting monster of brand deception, relax.


One of the comforting aspects to small, home-based or mumpreneurial businesses is that in the majority of cases the drive to set it up has come from a need from the owner to fill a market gap – usually one for which they have a vested, passionate interest.


When you are integrated with your product or service, you are generally on message as you live, eat, breathe (and often parent) the brand. Fiercely protecting its value is critical to your commitment and ongoing involvement.


There is a danger zone of well-meaning advice that is probably the highest risk of straying from your well-intentioned, authentic path. The start-up phase is often one where an excess of external advice is offered from all quarters – solicited and unsolicited.


Within this “If I were you” tsunami is the silencing of the voice of authentic inexperience for the belief in the validity of ‘expertise’.


So how do you know when to walk your walk, or if you are losing authenticity? Being on message is, unscientifically, when you are ‘feeling’ right about what you are doing, and this is in direct relation to your interactions with your customers and clients.


While expert and well-intentioned advice is frequently priceless, there is a great and liberating point when you decide to go your own way because it is just that: your own.  You can’t get more authentic than that.

Dr Polly McGee a co-founder of Startup Tasmania, which aids fast-growth start-ups in the state. She’s behind the MumpreneurIDEAS program, a one day workshop that assists women to start-up and is also a senior lecturer in Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Tasmania in their MBA and undergraduate program.

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