Entrepreneurs taking honesty for granted at their own peril

When starting a business, look into the mirror and be sure about your character. Photo/FOTOSEARCH
When starting a business, look into the mirror and be sure about your character. Photo/FOTOSEARCH 

I met a savvy ‘businessman’ late last year and spent a lot of time interacting with him.

Initially, I assumed he started in sales then talked, hustled and worked his way up to other businesses like real estate, food industry and supplies.

He was well dressed and keen on fashion trends from all over the world and can engage anyone — this man can literally sell snow to Eskimos.

Awesome this man was that every time he opened his mouth I learnt something. Surprisingly, I had never visited his business premises but he had taken me to those of friends and relatives.

I asked to tour one of his businesses having shown interest in knowing how they run and their structures so that I could share working and practical cases with my students.

There was nothing.

The ‘businessman’ was and still is living in a fantasy world — he has literally taken years to learn how to run businesses and helped to grow some but has never done anything for himself.

He has not come to terms with whom he is and is clearly struggling to keep up with the charade that has taken years to build around his friends and other people near him.

Psychologists would refer to this man’s condition as mythomania; a man suffering from pseudologia fantastica (pathological lying). But, in simple business terms, he would be a con — if the expression ‘fake it till you make it’ is true then this person has outlived it. Making it has not, will not, and is just not happening.

He has continually falsified everything to no discernible end in view, from simple to extensive and complicated issues and this has manifested over the years and might last his lifetime.

All business people know that the notions of business and honesty don’t always go hand in hand. The term honesty sounds so basic yet is a vital cornerstone of whether you shall make it in business or not.

Warren Buffett could not have said it louder “Trust is like the air we breathe. When it’s present nobody really notices. But when it’s absent, everybody notices.”

When starting a business, the first thing to be clear about is who you are by being honest with oneself.

If you are unsure of the person you are chances are you will be unsure of what you really want for your business and how you will achieve it.

Subsequently, one must know that his customers or clients will require clean and honest business irrespective of the type.

It is also important to be honest with others. If you fool one person, no problem, but doing so to the whole community means an investor will not go too far with the venture.

Lastly, to succeed, be honest with the business. Some entrepreneurs’ stories are meticulous. They can talk anyone into thinking they are lying in a bed of roses so much so that they start to believe in their own lies and do not come to the real terms that their business is sinking.

Strong foundation

When business people practice the expression “Honesty is the best policy,” it is important not to use it as a wallpaper.

Entrepreneurship and business is like life itself; morals and ethics must be practised to do well and succeed. The value of honesty in business has obvious and subtle implications with dire consequences.

Honest practices should be applied in all facets and in every situation to build a strong foundation of trust with peers, competition, employees and separate you from the rest. How honest and ethical you are will always show in results.

Ms Munywoki is the Executive MBA Programme co-ordinator at Inoreero University