Should “Fake It till You Make It” Be Every Business Person’s Modus Operandi?

By Michael Peres Michael Peres has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on January 30, 2023

If you think about it hard enough, you’ll realize it’s exactly what all the motivational speakers and success coaches say – in less controversial words, of course. When the big-money CEOs sit in the podcasts and say things like, “If you want it that badly, you’ll act like you already have it” or “You attract what you think”, they are basically advising you to wear a fake success shroud and get in the zone mentally – even if you have only $9 in your checking account and you’re one month behind on rent.

“Faking it till you make it” is an informal aphorism that encourages people to operate on borrowed confidence and an inflated sense of self-assurance, believing they can ride on the waves of the false to eventually become successful. It’s a massively controversial precept because, in reality, people process and implement it very differently. From lying blatantly on résumés and inevitably getting in trouble to borrowing supercars for client meetings and successfully closing deals, there’s no hard-and-fast expectation for these intellectual theatrics.

Business-wise, faking it can be really useful – sometimes.

Consider a young, bold and ambitious entrepreneur who just launched a startup tech company catering to subsidized healthcare. It’s a big dream, a business idea that could help thousands of people, but this founder needs investors. Finally, a novice ‘angel’ decides to take a chance on the fledgling business, but will they be comfortable pumping ten million dollars into some unknown remote company with no physical identity anywhere? Thinking fast, the founder borrows a friend’s official workspace for one day, puts up some name-bearing signs, dresses formally, and receives the investor on the meeting day. First impressions are successfully made, a deal signed, and in due time, the business fortunately breaks even.

In terms of personal behavior, ‘faking it’ can be a pretty solid shell breaker for the frightened mind. In the words of American entrepreneur and media personality, Angela Knight, social inclinations are entirely learnable for personal development.

“I’m an introvert but being in a business where I have to expose myself has taught me the pros and cons of being both extrovert and introvert, and now, I embrace both behaviors,” says Knight, who is a TikToker, Youtuber, relationship coach, and podcaster. “I had to force myself to unlearn some of what I knew and relearn new behaviors. I’ve always been a workaholic, not by choice but by design. Throughout the course of my business journey, I’ve had projects that failed but because I was too emotionally invested, I didn’t have the face to be honest to the public so I kept my failures to myself and continued striving to keep my momentum from declining. I subconsciously crafted a whole new persona that wasn’t exactly the real me, but eventually, I grew into these outlooks and mindsets and they’ve become a genuine reality for me.”

Successful entrepreneurship requires a steady supply of boldness and foresight. In a room full of people who can change your life, be humble, but also act like you’ve been there before. Manage your money carefully, but if you need to hire a designer suit or take pictures with sleek cars to be taken seriously, go ahead – you might just get away with it.

The bad side of ‘faking it’ – it gets ugly when it goes downhill

Borrowed confidence can be lethal if entrepreneurs do not know where to draw the line. You can fake a lot of things, but it becomes outright deceit and unpalatable falsehood if you lie about facts that carry critical weight, such as your skills, abilities, and achievements. A very common example would be the forex traders on Instagram claiming to exponentially multiply small capitals if you trust them with your investment. We all know how the stories end most times.

‘Faking it’ doesn’t always yield good results or successful outcomes, and for the people on the unlucky draft, it can trigger depression and deflate self-esteem over time. Others may be unable to break out of the cycle and would be stuck living fake lives out of shame, drowning in debt even though their Instagram profiles paint a different picture.

“Being a logical person is understanding that insanity simply means doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results,” says Knight, who is also the founder of Ocean Nails studio, creator of Pynk Salt cocktail spices, and an NFT artist. “I don’t believe in perfection and I don’t want to kill myself trying to make everything 100% the way someone who specializes in that one task would do it. I like knowing I tried something new and that’s all that matters to me. You can build real passion by tackling stuff that gets you genuinely excited. When your bills can be auto-drafted without you having a heart attack, then you can slow down.”

Take it from someone who has been there – ‘faking it’ can get you in a lot of doors and spur you onto a path of enviable greatness. However, you should only attempt it with the utmost discernment. If something is too costly and too serious to mess around with, you’re better off going with the real flow.

By Michael Peres Michael Peres has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Michael Peres is a Columnist at Grit Daily, founder, and software engineer best known for founding various tech and media startups.

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