Phantom support is when people say nice things to support you but might not really mean it.
Like the support friends and family give to an entrepreneur regarding their struggling business. Or the kind things people say to the startup entrepreneur about their business idea.
People inherently want to be supportive and encouraging so they say things like:
- That’s such a great idea!
- I would totally buy that!
- You’re so smart!
- I really think this could work!
- You’re going to be okay!
- Things will pick up in the spring!
Its human nature to say those encouraging things and people mean well when they do. The problem occurs when the entrepreneur doesn’t know about phantom support and thinks every one really loves their idea.
Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t knowingly lying to you. They mean what they are saying. But you need to understand what they are NOT saying. They are NOT saying:
- That’s such a great idea, can I invest?
- I would totally buy that! Here is a check, just send me one when you make them.
- You’re so smart, can I invest?
- I really think this could work! I want to invest. Who do I make the check out to?
- You’re going to be okay! Can I loan some money until things pick up?
- Things will pick up in the spring! Can I loan you $10k till then?
You see the difference right? If you’re not sure if the support is phantom or not, just ask them to take that next step. Don’t be mean about it though because remember, they mean no harm and just trying to be nice.
The Unintended Harm
The harm happens when an entrepreneur takes phantom support and treats it like research. When the entrepreneur invests their life savings because “Everyone I talk to loves my business idea!” Any advice or support or “likes” should be taken as the simple friendly encouragement it is and not as the “buy in” you hear it as.
All supportive statements should be ignored. Their opinion has no basis, and typically no expertise, in your specific product or service. The only “voices” you should be listening to are the results of a proper feasibility study and well researched business plan.
This will tell you:
- Who your market is
- How they think
- If market trends favor you
- About competitors and differentiation
- How to get a return on your investment in marketing and sales
- Financial potential
- Startup costs
- Staffing needs
Listen to the facts not phantom support!