The Truth About Lying To Yourself
As a man with aspirations of greatness, it can be easy to take roads less traveled and justify them as wisdom, even when present realities declare them as otherwise.
I remember the day when I made a decision to start a company in the Silicon Valley without a business plan and without a clue. I had convinced myself that I had enough sales abilities to make anything work. But what I had failed to see was that I really needed other valuable skills and business partners to make a brilliant idea come to life.
And for several months I labored and toiled with this business and failed to make a profit. My partner and I were smart, ambitious and most of all, “wisdom-less”. I was constantly tweaking my strategy, trying new things and pushing new business development tactics, but the entire time, my premiss was flawed. I had made the classic mistake of creating a product first, then testing the market needs and wants later.
If I had taken the time to get solid market research done first, I am confident the outcome of that business would have been drastically different. But I was hard headed and had this amazing ability to encourage myself to endure, even though the time had come to change directions.
This cycle repeated itself just 6 short years later. I created an offer and launched it hard, but it failed just as hard. I should have taken this as a clear signal that the business I was venturing into was a flawed model, but I didn’t. I pressed on again. Making changes, tweaks, micro adjustments. This time the revenue was there, but the profit was absent. At one point, the business needed an extra $30,000 to keep running, so I made a very rookie move. I placed that debt on our personal credit cards and turned the beast back on. This issue came up again 4 months later. And I made the same mistake.
But all along the way, I was encouraging myself and giving myself hope. Everyday was a battle, but without a business partner, I had only myself to reason with. Another fatal mistake was made in this. I had no accountability for my business decisions. Fast forward 8 months later and I had to close it all down. I had mountains of debt at this point, and now, I was without hope.
The journey is far from over, but I have put checks and balances in my life to keep myself from going down these self-destructive paths again. Here are a few that have really been a help for me and my hope is that you will learn from my mistakes. These will help you from continuing to lie to yourself:
1. Get a Business Partner.
Yes, you will give up some equity or shares or bottom line by doing this, but having a partner is invaluable. One word of caution on this though, make sure the partner you choose has a personality and skill set that compliments you will. Like a spouse, that may mean your partner is opposite of you. If you have never taken a personality test, this would be a great time to do it.
You really need to grasp what your strengths and weaknesses are so you can find the Yin to your Yang. If you are Jobs, find your Wozniack. Because the truth is, if your partner is just like you, the chances of you running your idea of business into the ground are 10x more likely. Get someone who will challenge you. Someone who drives you nuts and is unafraid to speak his or her mind.
2. Get Trusted Advisors
There is a stark difference between talking with your friends and family about your business and talking with a trusted advisor. Advisors will have a good amount of experience in the field your business idea lives in. They will see through any white lies you are telling yourself and call you out on them.
In my last business, I had no advisors. I had friends who I would vent to, but because they didn’t know anything about the business or industry, they patted me on the back and gave me a pep talk to get back at it and figure it out. These talks were more about getting sympathy than they were about getting direction that could impact my business.
3. Get a Trusted Ear
For me, this was the most difficult aspect of living as an entrepreneur. A trusted ear is someone who you open up to with your inner struggles and present state of your heart. I know this sounds like a therapist or something, but it is so critical to maintaining an honest dialog with yourself. It is a funny thing how being open and honest with a friend about the deepest struggles you are fighting through can lead to you having a clear mind when making the tough decisions when it comes to your business.
When I was in the hardest part of my e-commerce journey, I was lying to myself and lying to the people around me because I wanted to both save face about what was really happening in my finances and I was trying to look strong for my wife and kids. Hindsight is 20/20, but it was grueling and painful battle that eventually led to bankruptcy. Done make this mistake.
Find a friend you can be very open with. It is cathartic, I promise.
The take-away from my own journey of lying to myself can be summed up with this: surround yourself with people who can tell when you are being dishonest and who love you enough call you out on it. It is painful at first, but sooner or later, you will come to terms with a better path and it will save you from some of the most deceptive traps of this journey.