Having briefly lived in New Mexico as a teenager, I’ve always followed US elections with great interest.

‘Go big or go home’ is a phrase I often heard stateside which can certainly be applied to the manner in which US presidential candidates run for office. Massive rallies and conventions, A-list celebrity endorsements, extensive advertising campaigns, balloon drops and of course, whopping big budgets to finance it all. It’s hard not to get drawn in by the fanfare.

This year however, there’s an undeniable air of cynicism surrounding the campaign trail. One that can’t be ignored by even the most staunch Republican. 

The president's reaction to Covid-19 saw many Americans question Trump's ability to lead their country, as important information and facts regarding the virus were blurred or simply ignored. It seems that no clear plan or road map has been communicated effectively with the public as to how the government intends to navigate the pandemic to minimise infections and loss of life.  Instead, Donald Trump appears to be improvising his way through press conferences, often sharing ill informed information and advice with the public. It’s now a waiting game to see how his careless actions will affect his bid for a second term in office. 

This got me thinking. What can startups learn from the 2020 election and the controversial republican candidate?


ballot box


A smoke and mirrors approach to communication with potential funders and your community won’t serve you well. You’ll eventually be found out and your business may suffer as a result. 

Transparency, honesty and authenticity are key to getting people on board to support your mission. 

I’m not suggesting that you share absolutely every detail and update about your business with stakeholders and customers. There are obviously some things you should keep in-house. However, there are lots of benefits to being transparent in business. Providing regular updates as part of a road map and sharing realistic projections, are really important and are great ways to increase brand awareness. 

Even if you think that your incremental progress is really exciting on a personal level but not necessarily worthy of sharing with your stakeholders, I’d urge you to share it with them anyway. Regular updates that highlight positive progress (no matter how big or small) show that you’re taking a measured, strategic approach to building your business. They also help startups to develop an engaged community of potential investors as well as future consumers, who inevitably become part of your startup journey and your decision making process.

Here at the Freelancer Club for example, our founder Matt Dowling recently assembled a group of club members to form an advisory board. The Freelancer Club has built up a strong community of members since its inception, many of whom are highly experienced and knowledgeable freelancers and startup founders who can offer valuable insights, opinions and advice regarding the direction of the Freelancer Club. The members use our platform so they know better than anyone what works, what doesn’t work and what needs to be improved. 

While some may argue that Trump is a shoe-in for a second term in office, his poor response to the Covid-19 crisis as well as other recent events in the US, could well impede his chances of reigning victorious in the 2020 election. 

His inability to communicate effectively with his citizens in a transparent, timely and well informed manner has, unsurprisingly, led to widespread distrust, confusion and anger. 

How can founders learn from Trump’s mistakes? By acknowledging the importance and  benefits of transparency in business. Founders must ensure that they effectively communicate the status of their company and its progress with stakeholders on a regular basis, in a clear and honest manner. Doing so will help them develop an engaged community who want to support them and help their business to thrive.