This is the first in a series of posts that I’m writing on entrepreneurial skills. I’ve written a lot on this topic before but the fundamentals always remain the same. These are a collection of irreducible concepts that make sense in every business and every period of growth. I’ll post one a day until I run out of these little pearls. Please feel free to comment and add your own insights.
Skill#1: Be Brutally Honest
Nothing shakes up a company more than bullshit. It generally starts with unrealistic forecasts but it can be as invisible as office politics. Manage by fact, and know that facts can change over time. What’s true today might be false tomorrow. There was a time when we thought the sun revolved around the earth. Imagine such a crazy thing?
Being honest means you have to ask yourself the really hard questions. You need to look for the bad news and avoid drinking the Kool-Aid of overly optimistic outcomes. Everything in business takes three or four times more effort, money, and time than you plan for. Ask yourself and your team what you’ll do if you don’t succeed in raising money, landing the big client or reaching a million pages views. What will you do then? What’s your plan B?
You also need to be honest with everyone around you. No amount of hyperbolic storytelling will guarantee your success. There is no room for companies that are not 100% transparent. If you lie to your staff or your clients it will come back to bite you. If you cross them there is no end to the harm they can do to your reputation. In a world where Twitter, Facebook and text messaging is more ubiquitous than clean drinking water you better have you story straight and your facts double-checked.