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Business Boasts V’s Raw Reality

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I get it, you’re proud of the business you’ve built, and you should be. It’s hard work and the list of struggles are never-ending, even the good days are long sometimes.

The thing is, amidst the hustle and the constant push for growth, it’s easy to get caught up in the glow of our own successes. We speak in boasts and achievements, painting a picture of our business that shines brightly for the world to see. From “data-driven decisions” to boasts about our “family-like team culture”, these claims are our armour in the competitive business battlefield.

But let’s pull back the curtain for a moment, shall we? For every boast, there’s a reality, often less glamorous but far more authentic. It’s the side of business we discuss less often, perhaps over a pint with a trusted colleague or in the quiet moments of reflection after a particularly challenging day. It’s about the sleepless nights, the financial gymnastics to make payroll, and the reality that our office dog, the so-called “Chief Biscuit Officer”, might be the only team member consistently hitting their KPIs.

This article isn’t a takedown of ambition or success; far from it. It’s an invitation to a more nuanced conversation about what it really means to run a business. It’s about acknowledging that behind every boast there’s a raw reality, one that’s perhaps more relatable and certainly more human. Let’s dive into the unvarnished truth behind some of the most common business boasts, shall we?

πŸ’ͺ Boasts v’s πŸ˜… Realities

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: We have 15 people in the team, and growth is going well!

πŸ˜… – Reality: Oh my god, these people are gonna kill me. They all want to work in different ways, they all want different treatment and benefits, the issues are endless and there is no accountability. Bob is good though!

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: “Our core values are the bedrock of our company culture.”

πŸ˜… – Reality: Our values are indeed foundationalβ€”so much so that they’re literally part of the furniture, emblazoned on the office walls like modern hieroglyphics. They might as well read “Live. Love. Laugh.” for all the attention they get in daily practice. It’s a ceremonial nod at best; the team only really remembers them during onboarding or when giving office tours. In the thick of the workday, those values are as distant as the memory of a clean email inbox.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: We’re “data-driven.”

πŸ˜… – Reality: Indeed, we’re driven by dataβ€”into a state of perpetual analysis paralysis, that is. We’ve got so many dashboards and metrics, we could use a sat nav to navigate through them all. Decision-making? Give us a fortnight to consult the oracle (our spreadsheet).

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: We’re like a member of your team.

πŸ˜… – Reality: Why don’t you just hire a full-timer then? We’re just like that team member who pops up unexpectedly, offers unsolicited advice, and then vanishes when it’s their round at the pub. Collaboration at its finest!

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: We’re strategically led.

πŸ˜… – Reality: A minimum expectation there pal… Our strategies lead us much like a game of Blind Man’s Buff. Every so often, we hit the target, but not without bumping into furniture, stepping on a few toes, and occasionally knocking over a vase or two.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: We have a dog in the office, he’s the CBO (Chief Biscuit Officer).

πŸ˜… – Reality: Our CBO is the most productive member of our team. Mind you, productivity is measured in tail wags per minute and successful interceptions of lunch scraps. If only our cash flow management was as efficient as his crumb detection.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: We have a great culture (we do a pizza every last Friday of the month).

πŸ˜… – Reality: Our culture’s as robust as a margherita pizzaβ€”broadly appealing but fundamentally basic. Our monthly pizza day is the culinary highlight, masking the underlying flavour of overwork and underappreciation with a generous topping of cheese.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: We’re a million-pound revenue business.

πŸ˜… – Reality: We turned over Β£88k this month so obviously that means Β£1m now… but we have no view of our cash flow forecast and aren’t looking at our net profits for πŸ’©.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: We’re scaling rapidly, with revenue doubling every quarter!

πŸ˜… – Reality: Oh, blimey! Our costs are ballooning just as fast, if not faster. And guess what? Half that revenue’s tied up in receivables we’re chasing like a cat after its tail.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: Our startup culture is all about freedom and flexibility.

πŸ˜… – Reality: Freedom, sure, if you consider working at ungodly hours in your pyjamas, wondering if that “urgent” Slack ping is the one that heralds your doom.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: We’ve got the most cutting-edge tech stack in the industry.

πŸ˜… – Reality: Right, so cutting-edge that half the time we’re hacking away at the underbrush with a blunt machete, trying to integrate systems that frankly loathe each other.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: Our team is like a family.

πŸ˜… – Reality: Including the bickering over trivialities, the silent treatments, and, of course, Uncle Bob, who’s brilliant but can’t attend a meeting without causing a scene.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: We’re all about work-life balance here.

πŸ˜… – Reality: Work-life balance is paramountβ€”provided you can find life in the scant hours not occupied by work. Who knew Zoom calls could fill up every waking moment?

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: Our customer service is unparalleled.

πŸ˜… – Reality: It’s an unparalleled adventure, alright. Every customer interaction feels like stepping into the unknownβ€”will they sing praises or unleash fury? NPS? Naw…

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: We’ve got a flat hierarchy.

πŸ˜… – Reality: As flat as a pancake, if the pancake were a labyrinth where decisions somehow require the nod of an unseen, all-powerful overlord who’s never available.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: Our product/service is revolutionising the industry.

πŸ˜… – Reality: It’s revolutionising, alrightβ€”our sleep patterns, social lives, and perhaps our hairlines, with all the “pivoting” we’re doing at breakneck speed.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: We value transparency above all.

πŸ˜… – Reality: Transparent as a foggy day in London. You’ll know everything, sure, but only after decisions are made, changes implemented, and you’re left wondering when the memo was supposed to have reached you.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: “Our business model is perfectly scalable.

πŸ˜… – Reality: Our model scales beautifully on paper – like origami, really. In practice, it’s more like scaling Everest in flip-flops. Every step up feels like a potential slide back down into chaos.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: “We operate on lean principles.”

πŸ˜… – Reality: Indeed, we’re lean – lean on resources, lean on budget, and leaning quite heavily on the hope that our patchwork processes hold together long enough to make it through another quarter.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: “Our communication is second to none.”

πŸ˜… – Reality: Absolutely, we communicate incessantly. Emails, Slack messages, Zoom calls – it’s a non-stop digital deluge. Understanding each other? Now, that’s a different story.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: “Our agile methodologies keep us ahead of the curve.”

πŸ˜… – Reality: We’re so agile we’re practically contortionists, bending over backward to accommodate scope creep and changing project goals. Ahead of the curve? More like running circles around it.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: “We’re committed to sustainability.”

πŸ˜… – Reality: Our version of sustainability involves sustaining a never-ending cycle of “re-strategizing” and “pivoting”, with the occasional office plant thrown in for green credentials.

πŸ’ͺ – Boast: “We embrace failure as a learning opportunity.

πŸ˜… – Reality: We’ve embraced failure so tightly we’re practically dating. Each ‘learning opportunity’ is another notch in our belt of “what on earth were we thinking?”

It’s ok to boast!

Please understand, that it’s part of our nature to want to promote our businesses. The key thing is that your boasts externally don’t impact your performance internally. It’s very easy to start “drinking your own Cool Aid” and like the taste, the impact can become problematic on the longevity and value of your own business.

It’s crucial to maintain a balance between the image we project and the reality we live day to day. While a bit of embellishment can be a powerful tool for attracting clients, talent, and investors, it’s the substance behind the style that truly builds lasting success. Remember, the most compelling stories are those grounded in authenticity, resilience, and genuine progress.

So, by all means, celebrate your achievements and share your vision with the world. Just make sure that behind every boast, there’s a solid foundation of real value, consistent practice, and a culture that truly embodies those eye-catching values on your wall. After all, the businesses that stand the test of time are those that not only talk the talk but walk the walkβ€”aligning their external boasts with their internal realities.

Let’s keep pushing the boundaries, but let’s also keep it real.

  • 🌟 Boasting of “data-driven decisions” masks the reality of analysis paralysis and decision-making delays.
  • 🐾 The office dog, dubbed the “Chief Biscuit Officer,” ironically may be the only team member consistently achieving goals.
  • πŸ“ˆ Claims of a “family-like team culture” often contrast with the complexity and diversity of team dynamics and expectations.
  • πŸ’Ό Highlighting “rapid scaling and revenue growth” glosses over the challenges of managing ballooning costs and chasing receivables.
  • πŸ• Mentioning “great culture” through monthly pizza days belies a deeper issue of overwork and underappreciation.
  • πŸ‘ͺ Describing the team as “like a family” can mean navigating interpersonal dynamics that mirror those of a real family, including conflicts and challenges.