The first few years of starting a business have been a roller coaster for me. My biggest question that has yet to be totally answered is, “How do I know who to trust?” A huge obstacle I’ve faced personally is having people fall short on their commitments to me, or even worse, not follow through at all. The truth is, certain people will fog your mirror and distract you from what’s important.
When someone fogs a mirror, it means they are trying to deceive you by distorting the truth, or baiting you to see reality as something it is not. This happens a lot in deal making and it’s not always intentional. Someone has fallen short of a promise, but doesn’t want the deal to fall through. Another may coin themselves as an asset to your business but never bring enough to the table. As a result, they keep you chasing after empty promises and waste your time.
Long story short: They don’t deliver on their initial promises, but dangle something else to distract you from their mistake.
Nothing has made my startup journey more difficult than navigating through the mirror-foggers. And I’ve come across multiple of them. I’ve had some relationships that dragged out for months that I wish I would’ve cut bait on sooner. I had an instinct that something didn’t seem right, but didn’t trust it.
Many of these people have been much older and much more successful than me. I wanted to trust what they were saying over my own instincts. I’m learning the hard way that was a mistake. But sometimes we have to do that to really understand something.
The key is to spot it early on. Know when to cut bait if someone is deceiving you. Especially if you have a personal relationship with them or if they are charismatic people, try to see through the illusion and think, “is this person adding value? Is this deal ever going to be official? Will this partner follow through?” You might have to have some hard talks to get these answers.
Don’t underestimate your gut because you aren’t as experienced in the startup world. Good gut instincts make a great entrepreneur. Learn to trust them early on and you’ll set yourself up for less stressful relationships to manage and more progress on your business. When these people are out of your way and you’ve found yourself in good partnerships, a path to success becomes much more clear.