Being an entrepreneur, you’ve probably heard that you should be tougher, leaner, and quicker at decision-making. And while all of these traits are important, you might have never heard that being vulnerable could help you as an entrepreneur.
Recently, on Women in Business Today’s (#WIBT) hangout on air, we discussed Brene Brown’s TEDxTalk on vulnerabililty. Brown is a scientist who takes years–and a stint in therapy–to discover how to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability Gives You Courage
As an entrepreneur, you’re investing in the future of your idea or startup. And while you may believe you have the best idea in the world, there are so many things that could go wrong. People and brands think they have the answer to all the prayers of the known world, but people are emotional creatures. CEOs often forget this. We all make decisions based on emotion. Thus, a potential client may love the idea a startup has, but what if that client hates the company for the way it advertises or treats its employees? What if the idea is terrific, but the timing is off? Or what if the funding doesn’t come through for your high-tech widget?
There are so many reasons why people don’t buy. And every company takes a flying leap into the dark when it puts an idea or product out into the world. Realizing your own vulnerability and being honest about it can open doors where none were open before. By the way, Inc. has a terrific article about the Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship, and the “fake it til you make it” attitude that plagues many entrepreneurs.
Vulnerability Gives Your Employees Courage
Why do your employees decide to work with you? Your product may be no different than anyone else’s. But if you’re authentic, and tell people who work for and with you the truth, the chances are that your employees will feel more courageous, too. They’ll want to stick with you during the hard times, they’ll feel motivated when they get up in the morning. and your product or service will have its differentiator.
Vulnerability Makes You Stand Out
When you’re vulnerable, when you treat your own employees like family, those people will travel miles to do business with you and to work with you. Once I’m a raving fan, I’ll drive past other businesses to do business with those who treated me well. Often, it’s that emotional vulnerability that is the glue that makes me stick with them. Often I’m willing to do nearly anything to buy something from the company that shows its vulnerability–its heart, if you will. And I’m not alone in this, either.
Emotional Quid Pro Quo
Every time I show my vulnerability in my writing, I’m scared. All those thoughts of “I’m not good enough” emerge from their deep closet. And yet, every time I’ve been rewarded by people saying “Me, too! That happened to me!” Or “OMG. Do you need anything?” Or a story from them, in an emotional quid pro quo. In other words, now that you’ve opened up, I feel that I can, too. And they share something with a similar emotional weight to what I’ve shared. That’s the same way it works for a bigger brand; your emotional vulnerability makes you fans both inside and outside the company.
When Has Vulnerability Helped You?
Have you ever been intentionally vulnerable? Or were you forced into a vulnerable position? Please let me know in the comments!