Bootstrapping & Documentaries: Avoiding The Dark Side
There’s something about documentary film as an art form that’s fascinating. I was thinking about this recently – we can draw some clear parallels between bootstrapped entrepreneurs and documentary film makers that may help all of us perfect our craft. I’ve always watched documentaries but, in recent months, I’ve devoured most of the VICE documentaries and I’m digging their latest HBO series and recommend checking it out. If you’re a fan of documentaries as well, I’d highly recommend you take a look at:
- Searching For Sugar Man
- The Imposter
- The Fog Of War
- Louis Theroux documentaries (I’ve seen almost everything this guy’s put out…great stuff!)
One of the things I find fascinating about documentaries is that they’re (usually) limited to the constraints of what’s actually said or done. They have to take those jagged, unfinished pieces and put them together to tell a story that makes sense and inspires, enrages, encourages action, etc.
Love The One You’re With
Have you ever watched a blockbuster movie and thought to yourself, “Why isn’t MY life that exciting?” Beautiful people, extraordinary circumstances, heroes and villains – it all seems so dramatic and integral to the story. It probably wouldn’t be nearly as interesting watching our hero lazing around the house reading a book for a couple of hours, sitting in a coffee shop sipping a latte, etc. Just as it wouldn’t make sense to have a horribly sad ending in a feel-good story.
“Most of us are semi-flawed characters and large chunks of our lives are kinda boring”
Still, these things are what happens in “real life.” Most of us are semi-flawed characters and large chunks of our lives are kinda boring. (No matter what you see in your friend’s facebook photo albums) A blockbuster film can take whatever artistic liberties they like to make you seem more heroic, more fierce…but documentaries are much more limited. Sure, they can paint (sometimes amazing) pictures…but they’re forced to use snippets from the real world and real life.
Business are like that too.
Being able to hand-pick the best programmers or designers, the best finance guys/gals, etc – it’s a luxury only the largest businesses and startups can afford. For the rest of us, well…we have to roll with what we have available. It’s not just employees that can come up lacking. As the entrepreneur, YOU may not be the best choice for running your business.
There are thousands (maybe tens or hundreds of thousands) of people out there that might do a better job in building your company than you. Does that mean you shouldn’t even bother?
Sure, it might be nice if you had better employees, leadership qualities, or skills that you don’t have today…but those aren’t requirements for getting started. The uniqueness of your business and your company culture will come directly from you and your team. For most of us, this will require that we use our connections and build a team or business the best we can with the tools, resources, and people available.
Fake It ‘Till You Make It
The unspoken mantra of the Make-Monies-Online (MMO) community. The idea is to parrot the advice of others that are doing well (or at least faking it better than you) to those who don’t know better so that you too can rise through the ranks and (someday, maybe) ACTUALLY make it. Here are just a couple of examples I happen to know about:
- Sean King from CopySean.com – Gained a bit of attention by tricking some friends of ours online. Unfortunately, his story didn’t add up and he decided to “retire” from blogging.
- Tyrone Shum from TyroneShum.com – Fakes income reports and then owns up to it in a video. Puts plenty of (legitimate) online business guys/gals in the community in an awkward position.
Documentaries have this problem too. Aside from the obviously fake mockumentaries like Spinal Tap or A Mighty Wind, there was quite a stir regarding the movie Catfish. While the documentary is worth watching and does make some interesting points, the creators have taken a ton of flack for what seemed like contrived moments and a too-good-to-be-true storyline. They’re accused of faking it by critics and their peers.
So…is it worth it? Is it worth faking it to boost your credibility? I don’t think so.
Those who will go through all the hassle and have the ability to fake it and get away with it likely have the chops to make it happen without the bullshit. For the rest, the truth will likely come out so any gains are short-lived.
Both bootstrapped entrepreneurs and documentary filmmakers share some difficulties regarding having to use the pieces of the puzzle they have available. The trick is making it work without resorting to faking it.
“The trick is making it work without resorting to faking it”
The allure of quick or semi-guaranteed success is what drives both documentary filmmakers and entrepreneurs to faking it, many of whom are justifying it to themselves with the “ends justify the means” fallacy. After all, if their intentions are to show or share a truth, even if that means lying to get there…doesn’t that add value to the greater good?
The problem is their short-sighted (and often short-lived) strategy will inevitably end up blowing up in their faces. The end goal or truth they were looking to share becomes overshadowed by their deception. (And often hurts the cause, goal, or truth they were looking to highlight in the first place)
I’m really interested to hear your thoughts on this one regarding the “fake it ‘till you make it” strategy. Do the ends justify the means? Have you considered this approach?
Is “fake it ’till you make it” worth it? Do the ends justify the means in business? – Click To Tweet!
Also, I’m always looking for great documentaries to watch…let me know your picks on Twitter or in the comments below!