Fake it ’til you make it? Or scale it after you nail it?

There can be a fine line between hyperbole and reality. Periodically, we all, benevolently speaking, do a bit of faking it before whatever we’re undertaking is ready to roll out. Experienced executives have learned that for every new idea, the processing and development never ends. However, the prudent way for the new concept to be fully scaled is to wait until proven or “nailed.” Stress testing further ensures that the odds of success are not a matter of crossing fingers and hoping for the best.
Successful leaders and entrepreneurs, down to middle-level managers who think they have the next best thing since sliced bread, start by pitching it to colleagues, investors, boards and other final decision-makers in the early embryonic stages. Sometimes it is a mere “trial balloon” to test the waters and get others’ reactions.
The propensity to oversell is part of human nature. As one becomes more personally convinced that the concept will work, the innovator becomes emotionally tied to it. Thus, it’s easy for the creator to jump-start promoting “their baby” before every “i” is dotted and every “t” crossed.
This doesn’t make the purveyor of the idea disingenuous but instead furthers the evolution and momentum of a promising new concept.
From my experience starting companies from scratch, serving on numerous boards and being an investor in other enterprises, I know that a motivated sponsor can make the difference between a go/no-go decision and success or failure. The promoter, however, must be careful not to delude themselves and get caught up in their own hype but instead do the work and meticulously fine-tune the concept. This serves as a safety net to ensure that before devoting significant resources, time and effort, the idea has legs and an abundance of merit. At this juncture, facts meet fancy, and new endeavors are eventually transformed into more than just a dream.
Many of today’s most successful unicorns (startup companies that are quickly valued at over $1 billion) have begun with an unrefined idea as the entrepreneur unrelentingly and diligently added layer upon layer of refinements while accelerating the process and creating a buzz about what eventually will be.
As the whispers about the new undertaking are bantered about and grow louder and louder, new disciples emerge. This attracts believers other than the inner working circle and is one of the fundamentals of raising capital or support from outside the organization and giving an idea a life of its own.
Anything worth creating requires risk, and there are no iron-clad guarantees of success. While the originator of the concept is intermittently filled with uncertainty, the enthusiasm never wanes. It is normal and beneficial to be skeptical of the new and unproven. This skepticism spurs further and more intense refinements. The axiom “never let them see you sweat” underscores that success has two faces. One is a healthy dose of doubt and the other is a degree of bravado projecting confidence and tenacity.

To make something work, one first must sell him or herself and then sell others. A formula for enduring success is a little fakery (read this as “enthusiasm”) combined with thoroughly nailing it before scaling it.

Visit Michael Feuer’s website www.TipsFromTheTop.info to learn more about his columns, watch videos and purchase his books, “The Benevolent Dictator” and “Tips From The Top.”