According to Wikipedia, transparency is the physical property of allowing light to pass through the material without being scattered. But how can we associate it with transparency in business issues?
If we consider ourselves as the material in the definition above, and the light passing through as the criticism, what does being transparent mean to us? Is simply means we should let the criticism and all the good and the bad go through us and our project because being transparent won’t destroy or hurt our ideas. It can just make everything better.
And how is that?
As an investor I can get frustrated when I invest in people and don’t get the expected outcome. It is simply not enough to have a good idea. You should be willing to spend long hours and work hard on order to achieve your goals. But sometimes young people are not committed enough. I experienced many people with great ideas but with no results, for different reasons. My philosophy about startups is: “If the project can grow profitable, get it out and work it on” – even if you make mistakes. Those mistakes will teach you valuable lesson.
What Casper Ravn-Sørensen is trying to say is, that you have to be aware of all your previous and mistakes-to-come, and all the shortcomings of your project. And you should speak about them loud.
If you would come to Casper Ravn-Sørensen as an investor with your idea, and if you would just speak positive about the project, he would know something is wrong. You could be losing the investment opportunity just because you haven’t been transparent and honest enough about your idea. It is okay that some things are missing and that not everything is perfect in your startup. Everyone, and especially Casper Ravn-Sørensen knows that, in the beginning, there are things that need to be polished and perfected. And he could be helping you in that. Just as he helped a small Danish company, not just become transparent, but internationalised as well. We are talking now about Cleanskin.dk. His latest investment.
We were looking for a loan since we had an urgent capital requirement. We went to Copenhagen and met Casper and Mads that would rather be co-owners of the company. We thought it was a good idea and we would also rather have them as co-owners than just some people whose money we borrowed. They have a big background and they made some pretty good results. It is the synergy between Caspers experience and his network that we consider to be a 100 percent match compared to our necessities says the director Christian Leth from Cleanskin.dk.
But it is not just about being honest with investors.
It is also being honest with your colleagues and teammates you have started the whole thing with. You should be ready to accept other people’s opinions. Especially when it comes from the people you are collaborating with. And if you have that point of view on the things, afterwards, when your company grows so big that you will get to have even more co-workers, remaining transparent in those moments is one of the crucial things.
And why is that?
Well, you should first consider the fact that people choosing to work in a startup are the ones that like the job you are offering to them. Not everyone would risk working in a startup that has a possibility to fail after a while and leave the people “on board” without salary and any benefits. That is why you should listen to the people around you. If they have encountered some problem, then you should work with them to correct it. And not just sweep it under the carpet.
If you are the one experiencing the issue and being aware of its importance, then you should be willing to share it with others. It’s as fair, right?
Maybe you could organize one meeting a week where you could talk about the issues of the project and all the possible outcomes and solutions. In that way, you are respecting your co-workers’ ideas and opinions, and you are being transparent enough to the people that surround you.
But what about the customers? We all know they are the most important part of the chain.
With social media boom in the last couple of years, it is hard to keep something a secret. We can all see how now and then, it happens that a story leaks and that companies get closed fast because of the secrets of the employers and employees. Well, you shouldn’t risk it.
If you have the opportunity now to start something with a clean slate and to be honest on the way, why wouldn’t you do it. Customers love when people are real and honest. It shows them that you actually are one of them. Even though you are a genius with an incredible idea that will change the world, you were a customer once and you haven’t forgot it.
That is why being transparent is one of the most important things in doing business.