What do you do when you're struggling with a company you love? Be honest.
It's common to hear stories of triumphs in the business world. Hitting one million users. Raising a round of funding. Launching a new market. It's easy to share stories when things are going well.
But what do you share when things are not going as planned? As a struggling startup, we are trying a new approach. Honesty.
My co-founder and I launched our company in 2011 and have since touched thousands of lives with our baby, Dabble. While our small community loves what we are doing, the truth is we aren't yet profitable and have reached the end of our funding runway. We are facing some tough decisions and a "do or die" turning point in our business.
Instead of enduring silently, we decided to face these challenges openly by being totally honest with ourselves, our users and the world. The goal? To see if transparency can help save our company. Our blog, Thirty Days of Honesty, is a place to document the ups and downs of our journey for the next 30 days.
How does it feel to expose our underbelly to the world? Well, it's been scary. It's been cathartic. And the results have already been nothing short of astonishing.
We have received hundreds of emails from people across the globe offering their words of encouragement. Doors have been opened. Help has been offered. Ideas have been shared. Who knows what might happen next, but we believe we are on track to turn around our business. That's a pretty big shift from a few weeks ago.
So, what have we learned so far?
Honesty opens doors to improvement.
The truth is, we all face difficulties. We all question things. We all have weaknesses. When you're honest about what you need help with, the world does a pretty good job at helping you compensate for them. This frame of mind is the first step to either deciding you need to learn more or reconsidering your preconceived notions of about what's right. You grow as a business and as a person.
We cannot control outcomes.
Our original plan for Dabble was to grow the business and share our mission with millions of people. Instead, we're airing our dirty laundry to thousands and trying to figure out what happens next. Despite all this, we're actually more excited about what we're doing. Turns out the worst outcome was not that bad. We should all give ourselves more credit to adapt and "be okay" even if things don't follow your original plan.
We can define our own success.
As a business owner, it's too easy to think of the glass as half empty. Focusing on what we haven’t done instead of celebrating our small (but real) accomplishments. Sure, we haven't proven ourselves as the next Facebook—but that doesn't mean we haven't been successful at bringing something good to the world. We've stopped comparing ourselves to other people's standards of success. As the saying goes, "don't let comparison be the thief of joy."
Follow our journey on thirtydaysofhonesty.com