Watch out for ‘cringepreneurs’: Four tips for maintaining integrity as an entrepreneur

Leigh Rust

Safetyline Jalousie Louvre Windows co-founder Leigh Rust. Source: supplied.

As someone born on the cusp of Gen X and Gen Y, I come from a generation, who for a brief period, remembers what it was like before the internet completely transformed our world.

A time when ‘Dr Googling’ yourself, or calling a friend to ‘face time’, sounded like something we would watch in a movie, rented from the local video store, long before the death of Blockbuster.

The internet is responsible for a lot of things, both good and bad.

For business, it bought a wave of opportunity for those willing to embrace it. But it’s also to blame for destroying traditional business models that failed to keep pace and adapt.

In most recent times, we’ve witnessed this with the collapse of several, iconic Australian retailers.

The rise of the ‘cringepreneur’

In addition to creating opportunity, the internet has also helped entirely average people become celebrities and gurus. As a result, we now have a whole new breed of entrepreneurs ruining the title for the rest of us.

Let me explain.

Around six months ago, I returned to Instagram because I wanted to connect with other likeminded people and expand my network. Before this, I had been focusing my efforts on LinkedIn and had grown a community of around 11,000 followers.

After setting up a personal account on Instagram, I started engaging with other entrepreneurs, and that’s when I began to see the red flags.

Most of the accounts with the word ‘entrepreneur’ in the bio appeared a little odd in comparison to the connections I had made on LinkedIn. By contrast, these people were getting away with sharing a whole bunch of bullshit to their followers without any substantial proof they were legitimate.

It not just my opinion, but also the opinion of my peers, that these clowns are responsible for changing the perception of the word ‘entrepreneur’ to ‘cringepreneur’.

Now, as a result, some business owners refuse to include the word in their bio for fear of being associated with this type of individual.

Personally, I do not fear the opinions of others but I do have a problem with clowns masking themselves as entrepreneurs and ripping people off.

I’m not going to let the ‘cringepreneurs’ ruin the name for those of us who’ve dedicated our life’s work to entrepreneurship, so here are four tips for maintaining integrity as an entrepreneur.

1. Be willing to share your knowledge for free

I often make myself available in a mentorship capacity without expecting anything in return.

You don’t need to buy someone’s program to make six figures. You need to do the work and be realistic about the timeframe it takes to build a successful business.

There is no such thing as an express success pass that you can buy from a guru online.

We’ve been building our business, Safetyline Jalousie Louvre Windows for 10 years and I can tell you, surviving the first three years was the hardest part.

2. Build credible social proof

If you won an award off the back of a cornflakes box, it’s probably best not to boast about it.

Look for credible opportunities for recognition. Reputable awards like the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards ask to see financials and have recognised industry experts and business leaders on their judging panel.

Likewise, if you’re going to use people for testimonials or reviews make sure they are real people, not actors or bots. A dead giveaway for fake testimonials and reviews are generic names, photo-less profiles and phrase repetition.

3. Talk more about your failures than your successes

If you want to connect and resonate with other entrepreneurs and be considered authentic, talk about the challenges, not the rewards.

Entrepreneurship can feel very lonely at times, and I don’t know one entrepreneur who has not struggled with anxiety or bouts of depression at some point.

To me, it is a major red flag to see an entrepreneur only talking about how successful they are. I live by the motto, ‘I either win or learn’, so I have no problems talking about the lessons I learn when things don’t go my way.

4. Know when to share your wins

There’s a difference to being a show-off and sharing your wins to lift the morale of others.

A show-off will share pictures of fancy cars, luxury holidays and wads of cash. It’s classic behaviour of a ‘cringepreneur.’

Anyone with half a brain will know this does not indicate success. When you can hire a private jet on a runway for a new profile pic or stand in front of a Lambo on the side of the road, you can create the illusion of wealth with minimal effort.

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