Why You Should Adopt the Mantra ‘Fake it Until You Make it’

by | Oct 20, 2016

Is there anything more transformative than the power of belief? I don’t think so. I’ve been teaching creative people how to license their ideas for new products for more than 15 years now. And if I could offer every product developer, inventor, and entrepreneur out there one piece of advice, it’d be this: Fake it until you make it.

I gave my children the same advice when they were growing up. For a while, I wondered if that was really the message I wanted to impart to them. It is. Because you have to start somewhere. The important part being, start. You have to be willing to put yourself out there in the face of self-doubt. And that takes courage.

People who are new to this process, who are new to anything really, risk drowning in self-doubt. If you want to license your ideas for new products, you’ve probably wondered, “Will companies even listen to me?” “Am I really qualified to do this?” “Maybe my idea is horrible.” I don’t care how long you’ve been at this — I know the same questions run through your mind, too.

What does ‘fake it until you make it’ really mean to me, then? It means choosing to believe in yourself even when you’re fearful. It means pretending to be confident when you’re not. It means acting like you know what you’re doing, when really you’re not so sure. None of us are so sure! That’s a myth.

Repeat after me: I can do this. Visualize becoming successful. There you are, standing next to your product on the retail shelf. Picture your royalty checks arriving in the mail. Imagine watching an advertisement for your product on television. Visualize little successes too, like getting a company to reply back to you about your product idea, and finalizing your prototype.

Early on, after I left the startup toy company Worlds of Wonder to try to license my own ideas, I remember my wife asking me, “Why do you think you can do this?” The way she saw it, I had no reason to believe that I could. She wasn’t wrong. But I just kept telling myself, “Yes, I can do this.” I believed that I would figure out. I knew I would make mistakes, and I was okay with that. Eventually, after repeating that phrase over and over again, I really did believe I would make it happen. And I did. I know those two facts aren’t coincidental.

Is getting a licensing deal daunting? Absolutely. But you can do it. There are a lot of different steps you’ll have to take. You’ll need to be disciplined. You’ll need to educate yourself. You’ll have to spend some money. But you can do it.

Self-doubt is normal. We all feel it. But believing in yourself is essential. Choose to fake it until you make it rather than succumb.

Originally published on Inc.com August 12th 2016.


  • Stephen Key

    Stephen Key is an award-winning inventor, renowned intellectual property strategist, lifelong entrepreneur, author, speaker, and columnist.
    Stephen has over 20 patents in his name and the d...

    View all posts Intellectual property strategy, product licensing, and entrepreneurship.