We All Fake it ‘Til We Make it

"How do I create a credible company when everything about where I'm at right now is kind of bullshit? I have no staff, no real customers, and no credibility in the marketplace? How does anyone get over this?"

February 9th, 2022   |    By: Wil Schroter    |    Tags: Strategy

Faking it as a startup is pretty much what being a startup is all about.

As first-time Founders, we just don't realize that it's the norm. Instead, we worry ourselves about not being a big enough company, not having a full staff, or not having a proven product.

Well, guess what? If we're just starting out, we fake everything!

Our Fake Website

"But wait, won't people find out that all we have right now is a cheap landing page that my cousin created and just a couple of products available?"

Yes, and they generally won't care. When is the last time you deliberated on the corporate structure of a company before making a purchase? Probably never. Most customers assume there is some level of functionality and deliverability in our product because that's generally how companies operate.

As a startup, so long as we CAN deliver on what we're proposing, how we package it to the world is less important. So yeah, our Web site can look like a bigger, more established company, even if we're still working another job, so long as when someone hits the "buy" button, they get exactly what we proposed.

Our Fake Staff

In the early days, we’re the CEO, CFO, CMO, and Global Director of Answering Every Frickin Email Our Company Gets. There's no big staff, there's no org chart. It's just us handling every operation until one day, hopefully, we build enough of a company that we can afford to have someone else pick, pack and ship our product.

Once again, our customer doesn't care. Will they be put off that the Founder is answering their tech support questions? Absolutely not. Worst case, we can give ourselves a nickname to "look bigger" but guess what — every Founder runs support for a ridiculously long time. It's OK.

Our Fake Credibility

"But how are we going to convince customers that we're a legit business when the two of us have never run a company like this?"

Guess what — no one has run a startup until they have. So we're all "Fake Credible" until we prove otherwise. Despite what some may think, very few Founders are coming from an industry where they did "exactly this job" in their previous life. That's often because we're typically inventing new products for customers that don't exist yet.

So how do we fake it? We deliver to anyone that will listen, then ask them to support our claims. That often starts with getting family, friends, and colleagues to buy in, then using that social proof to get their friends to buy-in. We bring Advisors on board and use their social proof. We give away our products to customers just to get their testimonials. We basically do whatever we can for whoever will agree to establish our credibility as we go.

We all start from zero — that's really the point. Everything we work on is "fake" until we make it real. That's our job as Founders, and no one gets a free pass.

In Case You Missed It

I’m Killing Myself. How is Everyone Else Finding Work/Life Balance? We're supposed to believe that we can build a world-changing startup from nothing while simultaneously traveling to exotic places and enjoying our "best life". For most of us, that just doesn't add up. What's blowing us up, though, is how we approach the problem.

You Are NOT Your Startup (podcast) Wil and Ryan discuss why founders should separate themselves from their Startups, the lack of predecessors to guide young founders, what else to focus on besides building the business, and maintaining individuality.

How to Mix a Family and a Startup. How do we create a proper balance between growing our family and growing our startups? Do we have to swim in a sea of guilt through this entire journey or is there some other way to get ahead?

About the Author

Wil Schroter

Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes BizplanClarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual. He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement). After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do. He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.

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