This is no reference to that restaurant scene in When Harry Met Sally where Meg Ryan "faked it" for Billy Crystal. This is actually much more serious. We have control over some things and no control over others. The one thing we have control over is our authenticity.

Let me shout this to all first-timers--we all have doubts--welcome to the club. You are not unique, I promise you. Do not attempt to alleviate this by faking it.

Here are 3 signs that your are not a ready-for-prime time entrepreneur:

Overabundance of Pitch Competitions. Every community has them. They are usually operated by an organization with no ties to the investment community (colleges and government come to mind). If there is a cash prize it is in the single digit thousands. Startup founders--this is not fundraising! These wins do not provide you or your company credibility to the people you need the most--investors. And to share your win(s) as part of your talk track is sophomoric.

You celebrate the wrong milestones. I wrote previously about the risk of playing small-ball. I see this all the time in smaller markets. One of our favorite lines here at The Startup Factory--"being the biggest company in Durham (our home) gets you nothing". Over celebrating your first hire, or getting an office, showcasing your new logo, or crowing about your recent $2,500 Pitch Competition win are all signs you are faking it.

You never talk about your customer. This is my all-time favorite. We have all seen these guys at networking events. They are fast talkers and can fill your brain with all of the progress they have made on their product/company. But never once do they mention a customer or user. My son would call these posers.

Do the hard work. Share your wins and losses in context. But most of all, never fake it.

Published on: Mar 26, 2015