How often have you heard the phrase “Fake it till you make it” – particularly when it comes to business? Right from when you first start your business, even though you’re working in your dressing gown in a corner of the bedroom, even though you haven’t actually got any clients yet and the cat answers your phone, people encourage you to make out that you are a “big business”.
And on the whole it works. Giving out a landline number rather than a mobile makes you look more professional. Having a PO box at a business centre rather than using your home address makes you seem more established. Using a virtual receptionist to answer your calls lets people think you are more than a one-person team, or that you must be really busy if you need a secretary! Business cards, flashy logos, headed paper … they all go some way towards convincing people that you are A Proper Business, a business worth dealing with. And creating that sort of impression leads to work – even if you are completing that work in your slippers!
But is faking it till you make it always a good idea? No – as I discovered to my cost recently!
OK let’s spill the beans here. For any self-employed person, there are times when business is slow. Being the professional people we are, we plod on, and the bills are paid (most of the time), and we keep positive and tell ourselves that things will pick up, that the next big job is just around the corner. And we put on a brave face when it comes to our clients, too. Whether it’s at networking events, or in meetings, or on our Facebook pages, or in our newsletters, we keep smiling and talk about all the exciting projects we’re working on, and all the success we’re having. Because letting on that actually, things are a bit pants right now – well, that’s not the done thing, is it? So we fake it until we start making it again.
That’s exactly what I was doing at one point when I heard that one of my favourite clients – almost my FIRST client – had published a new book. And hadn’t asked me to proofread it. BOOM!! That hurt.
I emailed them straight away to congratulate them on the new book and on finding a better proofreader than me. And the rather embarrassed response was that they’d had to find someone cheaper – that I was obviously so busy with work that they didn’t like to ask me if I’d be willing to drop my prices for them.
Okay, dropping prices isn’t a good move, generally. But sometimes circumstances dictate that you need to take action. And some clients are just …. well, they’re special, aren’t they? To be perfectly frank I’d proofread this person’s books for free if I didn’t have to make a living! I love working for them! And given my situation at the time, I’d definitely have negotiated a price that worked for us both, so I could secure the job.
But instead, I’d put across the impression that I was busy and successful – and I faked it so well that one of my favourite clients didn’t feel they could approach me. And I lost the job. And – perhaps even worse – the kudos of being that person’s chosen proofreader.
So faking it till you make it … You know what? It’s not for me. Being authentic and honest and true to yourself and your life ….. that’s what I’m all about.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Do leave a comment and let’s see if we can start building a more honest world!