Are You Coming Across as Authentic? If not, it could really be hurting your business. Here's how to figure out if other people find you authentic, and what to do about it if they don't.

By Divya Parekh

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Thomas Barwick | Getty Images

Showing up authentically in every interaction is crucial for your company's success. Simply put, authenticity means being your real self in personality and character, despite external pressures. If you do not know yourself very well, or understand what drives your life, you may come across to others as lacking authenticity.

A lack of authenticity is a common characteristic. People tend to wear invisible "masks" for different situations: One mask for family life, another one for the workplace, and other masks when they are with other groups. They feel vulnerable at the thought of having to reveal their real selves in certain situations. But, as an entrepreneur, a lack of authenticity can spell doom for your company. Authenticity, or the lack thereof, will come through in your company's performance, marketing, products, services, and results.

Think of authenticity as your authentic identity. How you show up – your communications and actions – show people how genuine you are and demonstrate whether they can trust you. This principle goes for your customers and your employees. When you lack authenticity, they do not align with you.

Related: Failure and Authenticity: Why Millennials Succeed At Marketing

How to develop authenticity

Authenticity begins with mindfulness, which is a conscious effort of self-awareness. You need to know yourself and what drives your life. Mindfulness helps you become aware of your strengths and limitations, feelings and emotional hindrances, beliefs, values, and passions. You may not realize it, but they are the foundation on which you build your business (intentionally or unintentionally).

Do not worry about having to change. Through mindfulness, you can observe the entire spectrum of the real you. The activity of mindfulness does not attempt to change anything. Self-awareness helps you regard yourself without judgment. You might later determine that you want to change some aspect of yourself, but you need to observe yourself initially.

In your mindfulness exercise to develop authenticity, start by identifying your values. These are the principles that govern what is essential to you in life and work. Your values will help you become authentic, and if you veer off course, your values will bring you back to your authentic self.

Next, assess your current position in all your relationships, both in the workplace and home and personal life. Determine where you are, based on your values, where you want to be, and then determine the gaps. Understand that if you desire to move your business to the next level, you personally also must step up and demonstrate authenticity at that level. Otherwise, you will be frustrated at the results.

The next step is to align your actions with your values. This alignment will drive harmony in your thoughts, intentions, and actions. Your values will help you navigate decision-making and give you clear direction and consistency in your work.

Decisions and strategies based on your values will enable you to develop effective, non-frustrating paths toward your goals.

Related: Failure and Authenticity: Why Millennials Succeed At Marketing

How mindfulness governs your business focus

Whether you are a serial entrepreneur or a first-time entrepreneur, you will frequently need to decide where to focus on your employees' efforts. It would help if you also focused your and your employees' attention away from distractions, especially those that cause emotional turbulence and disruption. Again, mindfulness comes into play, as follows:

  • Awareness of what is important to you and your company can provide critical insights into prioritizing your focus.
  • To successfully run your company, you need to develop a business mission statement and a personal mission statement. These missions should focus on goals that ensure you act authentically regarding your values.
  • You also need to make choices regarding resource needs, customer and employee expectations, and go-to-market strategies. When you are mindful, the focus of those choices will be values-based. Furthermore, if you are cognizant of your strengths and weaknesses, you can leverage your strengths for more significant competitive posturing, and you can turn to third-party relationships to help in areas of deficiency.

Full authenticity

As I mentioned earlier, success in running your company requires that you always show up authentically. If you lack authenticity, you risk reputation damage to your personal brand and your company brand. And as the leader, you risk employees deciding not to follow you when they see your actions do not match your words.

It takes a conscious effort – a choice – to consistently show your authentic self at work in all you do. In the beginning, it may not come naturally, and you may have to force it. But over time, it will become natural to be consistent in your values-based thoughts and actions in all aspects of your business.

As an entrepreneur focusing on building a business, it is easy to overlook non-business situations. And it is easy to don an invisible "mask" to hide your feelings and beliefs. But keep in mind that your personal life intersects with your professional life. In seeking to demonstrate in full authenticity, remember that actions in both areas reflect on each other.

Related: If This Is How You're Doing Authenticity You're Doing It Wrong

Wavy Line
Divya Parekh

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor


Divya Parekh writes entrepreneurial leadership books. She founded Dreams Accelerator Inc., a client-first business growth agency. She is passionate about teaching strategies that empower people, sustain, and scale business growth.

Editor's Pick

She's Been Coding Since Age 7 and Presented Her Life-Saving App to Tim Cook Last Year. Now 17, She's on Track to Solve Even Bigger Problems.
I Helped Grow 4 Unicorns Over 10 Years That Generated $18 Billion in Online Revenues. Here's What I've Learned.
Want to Break Bad Habits and Supercharge Your Business? Use This Technique.
Don't Have Any Clients But Need Customer Testimonials? Follow These 3 Tricks To Boost Your Rep.
Why Are Some Wines More Expensive Than Others? A Top Winemaker Gives a Full-Bodied Explanation.

Related Topics

Business News

The 'Barbie' Movie May Have Caused A Global Pink Paint Shortage

The long-anticipated film is slated to hit theaters later this summer.

Business News

California Woman Arrested For $60 Million Postal Service Scam

Lijuan "Angela" Chen faces two charges that each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Growing a Business

How to Harness the Power of Data Analytics for Business Growth

To thrive in the competitive landscape, entrepreneurs must understand and leverage the power of data analytics.


The Return to Office Movement is Causing a Mental Health Crisis. Employers Are Part of The Problem — But They Can Be Part of The Solution.

Employee mental health substantially worsened with the return to office demands, and it's causing disengagement and low morale. The solution demanded by employees is the answer.

Latest News

9 Ways to Harness Entrepreneurial Skills in Medicine

Entrepreneurship and medicine may seem like divergent paths, but integrating entrepreneurial skills into medicine can lead to innovative solutions and professional fulfillment.