Is lying acceptable when the entrepreneur is committed to stopping when s/he can?

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review has generated a lot of discussion among academics. What do you think?

The issue is simple, as stated in HBR article:

An experienced VC fund manager I have known for years told me recently that if a person does not know how to seriously twist the truth from time to time, he (she) cannot be an entrepreneur. Some don’t like the term “lying;” they prefer to call it stretching the truth, or even “marketing.” But it’s clear, many entrepreneurs feel they have to embellish or twist the truth, or outright fabricate some friendly “facts,” to help level the playing field for their business.

Do you condone truth-twisting for entrepreneurs? Is scrupulously telling the truth a luxury that startups can’t afford? If so, should we teach entrepreneurs when and how to lie or should we hold startups to the same standards as we now hold the most mature public companies?

The article shared the following story:

When my two partners and I started our company, Triangle Technologies, in 1990, we stretched the truth about how many projects we had actually completed, and how successful they were. Over the years, we actually succeeded with enough projects that we could abandon the lying. It was a big relief. It was tempting to keep our marketing hype ahead of the reality, but gradually we felt that we could afford to be very strict about the truth. Is lying acceptable if you are committed to stopping when you can?

What do you think?


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