It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve noticed a theme, and this week it has undoubtedly been ‘failure’.
It started when I received an email from a business owner whose story we featured on Dynamic Business a number of years ago. It was a feature on bouncing back from bankruptcy, and she very politely enquired whether I could remove the article.
Explaining that while she had no problems in speaking frankly about the concerns she experienced in her business – as they were relevant and needed to be heard – the article had not served her credibility well, either personally or professionally.
After thinking it over, I made the decision to respect her request and remove the article.
On the very same day, I read the blog written by 99dresses founder Nikki Durkin. This 22-year-old startup founder candidly recounted her business journey, replete with all the gory details and liberal use of four-letter words. Durkin’s story went viral and she has been widely applauded for being brave enough to tell it.
I certainly agree. It takes serious gumption to start a startup, let alone see it through to the bitter end. Not only did Durkin share the details of the sheer ecstasy she felt from the ups, but also the bitterness of the many lows. For startups that are so often founded by solo entrepreneurs, it can be a lonely experience, and there’s comfort to be found in the stories of others.
And here’s the ‘but’: her 5,800 word diatribe is a PR disaster.
I can’t help but feel concern that off the back of the decision to fall on her sword, Durkin may have let her emotions cloud her judgment in posting this unadulterated recount. Widely republished by a number of news outlets, the internet has a long memory.
At the very core of 99dresses’ windup were recurrent cash flow issues – an all too common downfall for startups. Interpretations will vary, but some will undoubtedly see her as having ignored the warning signs, planned poorly, and insufficiently managed the risks. Would a potential investor in a future project of Durkin’s hold this opinion upon reading her post? That is of course a total unknown.
I sincerely hope her bravery doesn’t come back to haunt her in future business ventures, and as a journalist I’m between a rock and a hard place. I trade in business owners generously allowing me into their world, but I would never want this to be to their detriment.
Share your thoughts with me; email firstname.lastname@example.org Was Nikki Durkin’s post brave, or ill advised?