Let me start off by saying: As a new entrepreneur, you’re going to doubt yourself. But it’s how you work through the doubt that makes the difference between success and failure.
First of all, it’s completely normal to feel like you don’t have everything figured out. Why would you expect to?
You’ve just started your business and are testing everything––including how you market yourself, the products or services you sell, even your business idea in general. On top of that, if you’re a service provider, you may also be banking your entire business on a skill you’ve recently learned. You’re having to sell your services while you’re still mastering the skills themselves. So, of course, you’re going to feel a bit out of your league.
Even knowing this, many of us get caught up in comparing ourselves to other successful business owners and forget that they may also have had difficult journeys to where they are now.
So, how can new entrepreneurs manage imposter syndrome so they can keep moving forward?
1. Gather proof of success.
Our brains are wired with an innate negativity bias, so we typically look for the negatives in our environment instead of looking for positives. When you’re used to being self-critical, you tend to ignore external validation and rationalize any positive feedback you receive. The next time someone compliments you, graciously accept the compliment and add that to your memory bank of positive proof.
And while it may seem like you only have failures to report in your business, you want to keep an eye out for any markers of success you receive early on. For example, did you get a great client testimonial? Frame it or put it in a note on your phone. In my case, I look at past client feedback whenever I’m having a moment of self-doubt.
And a pro tip: You want to gather feedback from trusted sources. If your old friend from high school doesn’t understand why you’re starting a business, don’t worry about it. Look for feedback from mentors, past clients, and people who understand what you’re doing.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others.
As I mentioned before, it’s vital to stop comparing yourself to others. With the advent of social media, we’ve made it even harder to end the comparison game and the self-doubt spirals that inevitably follow. It’s so easy to compare yourself to a role model in your industry and wonder why you aren’t there yet. But they aren’t supposed to be at your level; that’s why they’re a role model!
If you notice that you’re comparing yourself to a successful entrepreneur, ask yourself these questions:
What quality do I see in them that I don’t see in myself? How can I nurture this quality?
When did they start their business? Is that the same timeframe as me?
Is comparing myself to this person helping me move forward?
Ideally, you’ll want to drop all comparisons to others and measure your success on a past version of you. Have you gotten more confident, closed more sales, or hit another goal you had set for yourself? It doesn’t matter what your competition is doing. You’re not them, and your clients don’t care as much as you think they do anyways. They care about the results you bring them.
3. Normalize the feeling.
The more you come to terms with the fact that you may feel uncomfortable as a new entrepreneur, the faster you’ll accept it and move on. A recent study by Kajabi found that 84 percent of entrepreneurs and new business owners experience imposter syndrome.
Realize that every entrepreneur––even the experienced ones––feels insecure at times.
The one question Oprah hears most after interviews is some version of: “Was that okay?” “How did I do?” And she’s interviewed everyone from world leaders, successful athletes and CEOs––all people we consider to be pretty confident from the outside.
This proves that confidence isn’t something you have to feel 24/7 to be successful. As long as you can tap into it when it’s needed, you’ll be fine.
4. Disconnect your inherent value from your business success.
It’s easy to wrap up your own value with the success (or lack thereof) in your business. But they are two different things. You’re born with inherent value––you don’t add to it or remove it over time, and nothing you do can change that.
Start looking at your successes and failures in your business differently. If you fail at something, that doesn’t mean that you’re a failure. It just means that you may need to pivot or make a change in your business.
5. Work with a coach.
If you’re still struggling with imposter syndrome, it may be helpful to work with a coach because they can get to the root cause of why you’re feeling this way. They may notice that you have a lot of perfectionist tendencies, for example. Or they may see that you’re telling yourself outdated stories of why you can’t be successful, and help you dismantle them so they no longer have power over you. Coaches are trained to see your blind spots and have tools that can help transform the way you see yourself or a situation in your life.
Agatha Brewer is the founder of Agatha Brewer Coaching where she works with new entrepreneurs to help them launch and grow their businesses. She combines 15+ years of digital marketing experience and her coach training (Whole Person Certified Coach®) to help new business owners move their ideas out of their heads and into reality–getting them clarity around what they want to create, helping them set the right strategic foundations, and unraveling any mindset blocks that are standing in their way.
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