The importance of being authentic in business

If there’s one thing I would stress to budding entrepreneurs when starting their business, it’s that they maintain their authenticity, which really is easier said than done.  

What so often starts out as humble beginnings can quickly spiral out of control as pressures mount to compromise on your beliefs, or to quell your initial passion to appease outsiders. 

Challenge

When devising the concept of blur Group, I had a clear vision as to not only the benefits of the business, but its core values too. I wanted to create a product I believed in, and would use myself. We knew that when we started blur Group we wanted to be a disruptive force and drive change into some of the industries that we had worked with. 

That’s something you can’t be afraid of when entering a market. There are a lot of comfortable, large, incumbent service providers out there who look at market sizes and don’t feel the need to adjust their own behaviour. If entrepreneurs don’t challenge the status quo, there will never be any new or truly innovative business ideas. And innovation is critical to improved customer experiences and value.

Have a passion for what you do

Your business, whether a product or service, should be close to your heart. Those that are buying into it will see the passion and thrive off it. If you care little for what you do, doing it is made that bit harder, and business is tough enough as it is, without adding barriers of your own. 

Trust your gut

If you believe in your creation and have a passion and expertise in your area than you will survive through any cutthroat environment. Yes, you must always understand that there will be times when you will need to adapt your approach and make comprises but never submit to a request or offer that is not aligned with your morals. Make smart choices, listen to your heart, hustle and kick it.

Focus

Not too long ago, we expanded into a number of new industries, including law and accountancy. This came four years into the business. When we started, we were tightly focused around creative services. 

Have focus; do what you do and do it well. Always ensure quality over quantity, as far your outputs are concerned. High quality service has meant that we receive a large number of repeat business and then over time we have developed laterally. I still sit next to our customer service teams.

Set targets

My final piece of advice to entrepreneurs wanting to conduct themselves in an authentic manner would be to think long and hard about what it is you want from life, and from your business. If your goals aren’t clear from the outset, staying true to yourself and your idea can become increasingly difficult. 

Entrepreneurs starting out should be prepared to put some serious time into their business before they can expect to see a real return. 

It can take a long time – the analysts are not expecting blur Group’s first profits until next year (six years into blur Group) – so if you’re not willing to invest some serious time, it’s almost certainly worth re-evaluating your situation and strategy. Most great, sustainable businesses take at least ten years to build.

It’s tough too, in what are ever-changing and evolving times not to simply ride the wave and jump on an idea that’s “right now” instead of “right”. Granted, you have to move quickly in business, there’s no doubt about that, but more importantly, you’ve got to move forward with the idea that you believe in, fully and truly – and hopefully for the long term. 

That’s authentic business. 

Philip Letts is CEO of blur Group.

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