The biggest obstacle I had to overcome as a first-time start-up founder was the discomfort I felt about brazenly promoting my own business. And I’m not the only one. I’ve talked with quite a few other founders who feel the same. But in a world full of businesses trying to get attention, you need to get the word out there.
Of course it is ideal to have non-related parties evangelizing your product, but there are a plethora of great products launched daily and few of them break through the noise. Many products well-established today spent much of their early days tooting their own horn.
First of all, I understand why many people find self-promotion difficult:
This is deeply rooted in the human psyche. According to Psychology Today, “research has demonstrated that there is a clear trade-off to being seen as more competent and being liked.” Those that sit back and wait for others to speak up for them are seen as less competent. The article also highlights that friends are more likely to feel uncomfortable with your self-promotion than strangers.
But why would your friends be uncomfortable with your success? Alain de Botton says it best in Status Anxiety:
It is the feeling that we might be something other than what we are—a feeling transmitted by the superior achievements of those we take to be our equals—that generates anxiety and resentment.”
When the success of your peers exceeds your own, you naturally compare yourself and feel envy. Of course, it’s not up to you to protect your friends’ feelings—you have a business to build. But when faced with the choice between making accomplishments known or keeping friends, most would feel heartless if they chose to brag a bit. But there are ways to toot your own horn tastefully (and keep your friends):
Whether you are announcing a milestone achieved or just trying to get the word out about your product, it is your job to promote your company in the early days. Make sure you do it well.