Someone recently asked me why i time stamp my Instagram story. Another late finish in the office depicted by a half finished cup of coffee on a paper ridden desk, and illuminated by a mixture of Macbook keypad & a maturing night sky, with a 9pm time stamp overlaid. The answer is that when i was younger, i've been guilty of painting an unrealistic, often glorified perspective on what entrepreneurship truly is. Such behaviour isn't just exclusive to entrepreneurs, but there's many with large followings who stand to profit from their followers desire to replicate their status. Courses, books or seminars, sold on the glorification of such a lifestyle is rife, without being transparent around the reality.
Entrepreneurs should be unambiguous for a number of reasons. Firstly, as a moral responsibility to fully equip anyone considering starting their own business with the harsh realities; it is so tough, that unless your passion outweighs your pain threshold, you will give up. Period. On that basis, you must be passionate enough about the problem your product or service solves that you'd bet your life on its success. Its a long game, and if you can't enjoy the process, then the fruits of the labour will not be worth your toil and you may be better suited to the security of a job. It takes a long time to achieve such heights, if ever for most, so that shouldn't be the focal point.
Secondly, given the open access nature of most people's profiles, prospective or existing clients can view your content, which can potentially jeopardise transactions (content dependant) whilst sometimes conceding leverage with employees. Its very difficult to demand harder work from staff in a start-up whilst you post another watch pic. Its important to celebrate success, but the balance is delicate.
Even a keyword search of "entrepreneur" on Instagram, or a stock photo website, will bring up photos of luxury watches, exotic locations and the latest super car. Follow the instagram accounts of many celebrity entrepreneurs and you'll find much of the same. Its as grossly inaccurate as it contradictory, and used only as a tool in selling their courses or books. I can think of many who are popular with where the motivation is sales; buy my £1000 course and you will be on your way to this!
The reality is much less glamourous. Elon Musk slept on the floor of the office he & his brother shared, using the 1 computer they could afford to run their programme during the day and code on at night. They survived on fast food and minimal sleep, working 7 days per week with little rest. Had Instagram stories been around then, what an amazing insight it would be to see the Musk brothers develop and eventually sell their first business, which provided the foundations for Paypal and later Tesla. The motive for their business was a passion to inflict change, not acquire the latest luxury or be recognised by way of a verified twitter account. It was around impactful legacy, not personal brand equity, which is a bi-product that can be effective when use honestly.
How to build a personal brand with this in mind? I find it hugely motivating to see someone so dedicated they're going beyond conventional constructs, still working gone midnight, learning or creating. Some entrepreneurs use social media incredibly well in this way. Gary Vaynerchuk is a personal favourite, because he offers so much value without agenda. He reiterates the value of hard work and is transparent on his origins, showcasing the real level of commitment required, which is both helpful and inspiring to those who follow him.
Showcasing dedication and commitment by way of affirming an entrepreneurial spirit goes a lot further than exhibiting your latest purchase. Documenting your working life on social media can be effective in providing context for your achievements, whilst helping motivate others who follow and inspire a new generation with a realistic view of the requirements needed to be successful. The 9pm time stamp is as much for me to document what I'm doing to test its efficiency as it is to make myself publicly accountable for the success or failures of my businesses. I've found transparency to the world to be one of the biggest motivators in staying to the course.
I'd also advise anyone to go back to zero. Its amazing how resourceful you become when you have absolutely nothing. When you're sleeping at friend's houses, ego crushed from a failed business, barely able to afford food, you find out what you're truly made of. On the flip side, when you've created a business at a young age in the face of fierce competition and with everyone thinking you're crazy, there's some attributes you may of not known you had.. I only wish i would have documented more realistically in the first place!