How to overcome impostor syndrome as an entrepreneur

How to overcome impostor syndrome as an entrepreneur

Posted: Tue 12th Apr 2022

Impostor syndrome affects everyone. And repeat. Impostor syndrome affects everyone.

Does this sound familiar?

  • You experience moments of self-doubt about your achievements

  • You think that everyone else knows more than you do

  • You worry that you won't meet expectations

  • You think your success is down to luck

  • You don't believe praise when you receive it

We feel these emotions most when we put ourselves out there for opportunities like asking for a stretch assignment, going for a promotion, speaking to a group or an audience, or pitching for work.

What is impostor syndrome?

Impostor syndrome is that little voice in your head (that grows louder, if unchecked) that casts doubt and makes you feel like you're not good enough or that what you've achieved so far is not deserved. It can stop you from moving forward and miss out on opportunities that you really do deserve.

Entrepreneurs and freelance consultants are more susceptible to impostor syndrome because you rely on your confidence and belief in yourself to make a living but may not have the support network around you to help when these moments strike.

The good news, impostor syndrome is not permanent and can be overcome. Follow these five steps to tackle it, and you too will be one of those people who looks like a swan gliding through water.

Recognise and record

When you feel that inner voice cropping up and whispering, 'You can't possibly do this, everyone will figure out you're a fraud,' the first step is to call it out. Be aware of how you're feeling and acknowledge what's going on. Once you've identified it then ask yourself, Why am I feeling like this? What's just happened to trigger this?

And finally, ask yourself, Am I justified in feeling this? Or am I just getting carried away? This can help break the trance and stop you from running away with these feelings.

Find your squad

It can be lonely as a business owner or freelance consultant when you don't have a team or regular contact with other founders. But the best thing to help break out of the cycle of doubt is to surround yourself with cheerleaders; the people who make you feel positive about your skills and achievements.

Review who is in your tribe and don’t limit it to just people in the same industry; values, character, and purpose-driven callings matter more.

Remember, those from different walks of life are often better able to offer out-of-the-box ideas and positive, constructive feedback when you need it most. Consider joining a ready-made support network at an Enterprise Nation local meet-up.

Reframe your mindset

Our retreat from situations is part of our primal brain function, our fight or flight mode, which is there to protect you. In the modern context, our mind triggers a flight response in situations where you don't want to make a fool of yourself.

Use this as an opportunity to remind yourself of your skills by replying to the voice, 'I hear you, I know what you're saying, but you don't have to worry, because I've got these skills. I've done this before.' Put together a list of your strengths, remind yourself of past achievements, look at testimonials or past emails thanking you for your work.

Be realistic

Nobody knows everything, even if it appears that way sometimes. We're all learning and it's OK to say you don't know something. Again, this is an opportunity to grow, to recognise where you have gaps and feel fine with saying, 'I'm not quite sure what the answer to that is, but I can go and find that out and get back to you.'

This is yet another technique, not a weakness. Stretching yourself means you'll encounter moments when you don't know something, so being realistic about this will help you learn and move forward.

Recognise your success

It's much easier said than done to accept when things have gone well. This one might take some practice, but it's just as important to celebrate your successes.

You can do this for yourself by writing it down, telling close friends or your tribe. You can also do it by sharing on social media or promoting on your website or through newsletters.

Keep note of your successes and store them somewhere. Or better still, share them with the Enterprise Nation community and we'll shout about them on your behalf.

Relevant resources

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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