How do you get over the disconnect of your public startup persona vs. what is actually happening?

I do a really good job of promotion and making things look like all is going great with my startup. When in fact I’m really struggling and been having a pretty tough time. When people see me they are happy and tell me how great it seems things are going and I say yes and play into that. I can’t show the struggle (fake it till you make it) and how I’m at my wits end. But it makes me feel sometimes like a total fraud projecting all is great when it is not, and of course feeling very isolated.

  • Hang in there! Being a business owner is lonely sometimes. But I can tell you from personal experience working with hundreds of startup CEOs for many years while in the PR industry before the dot com bubble burst and I changed careers, that a lot of startup business owners feel a disconnect between their public image and their day-to-day business. Every business wants and needs people to say and believe good things about them to get people to buy and keep buying. But every business has their challenges and struggles behind the scenes–meaning just because you’re trying to promote a positive image for your business publicly like every other startup business in the world doesn’t mean you’re a fraud. You’re not. That’s just what companies do unless circumstances force them to do otherwise, and even those situations are professionally PR managed (e.g., layoffs, buggy products, not meeting their numbers, etc.) to minimize the potential fallout. My advice, depending on your personality style, is to either find one or two people outside your business who you’re personally close to and can trust to keep things confidential and only confide your real feelings to them. Find a professional coach or mentor and have them sign an NDA so you can talk freely to them about whatever you need to that’s going on with your business. Hire a counselor, as they are professionally obligated to keep things confidential. Or keep a journal. Personally, I write things down and vent them on scrap paper. This helps me deal with my own feelings and challenges in running my business without having to publicly share my feelings with anyone. It doesn’t work all the time, but it does work for me most of the time. Again, it all depends on your personality.

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