When I started my freelance business as a Web, Graphic designer and Videographer, I didn’t know much about business, that’s because I had no prior business training. I didn’t know how to manage money, clients or any basic business functions. I didn’t even have a business plan and I didn’t know how to create one.
On the other hand, I always speak with confidence and transparency when dealing with clients, and I spent a huge amount of time learning new business skills and strategies online. And no matter how insecure and afraid I might have been feeling in the inside, I managed to hide all that behind my confidence and skills.
I took no loan to start my business, after feeling ready to face the market; I managed to get my first client and used that money to purchase a secondhand laptop and a 3G Data modem for Internet access and business branding kicks-off immediately.
In this article, I’m going to talk about ethical business bluffing, which has definitely helped me in some way since I started my freelance business a few years ago.
What is Business Bluffing?
The term Business Bluffing might sound weird to some people because of the notion that bluffers are mostly liars or cheats and have a sweet tongue in convincing and tricking people. Some will even compare bluffing in business to bluffing in a poker game. Well, some of it might be the case but the lying part shouldn’t be good for any business person who has the intention of growing.
I defined Business Bluff as the process of using strategies to convince potential clients by marketing your products or services in a very presentable manner without compromising the truth about what you can do or how good your product or services are.
An excerpt from an article on Harvard Business Review written by Albert Z. Carr states…
I agreed that the basis of private morality is a respect for truth and that the closer a businessman comes to the truth, the more he deserves respect. At the same time, I suggested that most bluffing in business might be regarded simply as game strategy—much like bluffing in poker, which does not reflect on the morality of the bluffer.
Carr, A. Z. (n.d.). Is Business Bluffing Ethical. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/1968/01/is-business-bluffing-ethical
We all have watched commercials of products on TV, exaggerating what their products can do, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it does exactly as shown, but at the end, they make a lot of sales from the viewers. So, whether business bluffing can be termed as ethical or not depends on different factors.
A TV advert or how a business person or company presents their product and services can easily attract a lot of potentials clients even if they believe that you are exaggerating. Businesses have been bluffing for long now, and every salesperson, manager or CEO will tell you how useful bluffing has made their businesses profitable.
Bluffing can make a small business look like a giant corporation. It can open doors and create opportunities. In many ways, bluffing can help you do what some of your competitors won’t, which can, in turn, give you a significant competitive advantage.
In the saturated business world today, the competition is very high and only those with good branding and strategies will make it, not only your skills. I have seen a lot of people with great skills and potentials but lack the ability to brand themselves in the business world to attract clients and build trust.
In my experience, business bluffing has hugely taken my business to another level over the past few years. I bluff about my services sometimes, but I never compromise with the truth. It’s dangerous to bluff when you can’t deliver, always tell the truth. It might be easy to build trust but when broken, it may not be easy to regain.
Telling someone that you can build a rocket in one day just to get hired when there’s absolutely no way that you can make it happen; is a disaster. You may fool some clients at the beginning but your business will rarely last, which leads to the failure of lots of businesses.
This is the more reason to distinguish between a bluff and a lie. It’s about showing that you are confident and capable to do the job. Your words should be a replica of your capabilities.
The moral of this article is, bluff only when you can deliver, say “Yes, I can” only if you’re sure you can. Stand firm and be proud of your skills, and never compromise the truth if you want your business to last longer. Because, if you keep making false promises to clients, you may never succeed.
I hope this post was insightful. Thanks for reading and I will be glad if you could join our list of happy subscribers.
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Ousman Faal [Digital Vigilante] is a Tech Entrepreneur & Digital Skills Trainer who teaches both in the classroom and online. He has experience in various technologies and likes sharing it with others. Ousman has published 144 articles on this blog. He is the CEO of Faalen Technologies and Skills.gm.