Back when I was building my first business, I was terrified of coming across as “green”. Yes, I was learning all I could. Yes, I was meeting with founders a few steps ahead of me and downloading as much of their experience and wisdom as possible. Yes, I was well-informed (and working hard to become more so), but I was also, well, “green.”
I knew I couldn’t control how people perceived me, or how seriously they took me, so I started by taking myself seriously first.
What that meant in practice is that I prepared before each meeting. I did lots of due diligence about market trends and competition and customer needs before ever investing money in anything. I dressed professionally. I showed up on time. I asked good questions. I did everything I could to convey I was serious about building something new and serious about my (as-yet-non-existent) business.
And before long, I found that others took me seriously too. All of my preparation, and learning, and research, and professionalism started to pay off.
I didn’t trivialise what I was doing because none of it was, or is, trivial. I see so many new or early-stage founders laugh off their budding ventures as “hobbies” or hedge their goals or get nervous about telling others they are starting a business. But if you don’t believe in it, or if you think it’s laughable, or just a hobby, won’t everyone else? If you fail to take yourself and your business seriously, won’t everyone else?
When you are serious about what you are building and serious and thoughtful about how you build it, the dream or target or vision becomes that much more credible. Serious isn’t dark and glum; serious just conveys “I mean business”… because you literally do.
So don’t brush off what you are building. Don’t pretend like you don’t care so any potential failures will hurt less. Don’t treat your business like a hobby unless you want it to stay one.
Talk the talk, walk the walk, and take yourself and your business seriously.