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Starting Your Own Business? Read This First.

“Fake it ‘til you make it,” that’s one of the most popular phrases of #startuplife for entrepreneurs. The words have the whole “if you believe it, you can achieve it” thing going for them, where the more you act as if you’re successful, the more your vision will become a reality. But I’ve found that faking it can get stressful. Sometimes I don’t want to fake it and I just want to shout ‘I ain’t got it!’ to relieve myself from the pressure of making people think I have more means than I do while I make the steady climb to build my online talk show Know This! with Ariana, which seeks to make it cool to “know yourself and know your world” in this age of ratchet reality TV.

In fact, without realizing it, I kind of took the whole “fake it” bit a little too far last year. As in faking that I had the money to finance a 14-city talk show tour because in media, it’s all about having an audience. When I launched my show two years ago, I was coming from the non-profit sector and didn’t really know the media world or have a strong network there. But I knew the vision I had for a show that speaks to the best in us, in a cool, smart, relatable way, was necessary. So being the crazy entrepreneur that I am, with only six months experience doing my show, I decided to take my show on tour … to 14 cities and build my audience the grassroots way. Hey, why not? Well, a big why not is the fact that I didn’t have the money to do something like that. And 14 cities? GTFOH. Yet something told me to do it anyway and figure it out as I went along. In retrospect, that “something” was probably a recent escapee from a psych ward because the plan was to finance the tour and show’s production with my credit cards. And that’s what I did. Thousands of dollars of debt later that, I do not regret one second of that #startuplife leap because I found the voice of the show and grew a lot from the experience. But I do wish I had more faith in my ability to raise money through crowd-funding beforehand, and didn’t take the “act as if” concept so literally.

So when I shake my fist at the sky over my “fake it” phase that had me borrowing money to finance the cross-country tour, I’ve learned that it’s just as important to own up ’til you own it. For example, me admitting the fact that as a result of my start-up risk-taking I have, like, eight outfits in my closet. I’ve bought maybe four new things in the last year, if that, and as someone living in New York, I feel like I’m committing a fashion felony. I’m self-conscious about my clothes, at times. I worry about bumping into the same people at different networking events, and getting that “Didn’t I see you yesterday wearing that same shirt?” look. You know the look, where a person acts like he or she doesn’t notice my clothes but really they are judging me, the repeat offender, with their eyes.

Last 5 posts by Ariana Proehl