How to overcome imposter syndrome and grow your business
Updated: Oct 27, 2022
If you sometimes feel like a fraud no matter how much you've done or accomplished in your life, you're not alone.
According to the International Journal Of Behavioural Science, 70% of us suffer from imposter syndrome - the feeling of being a total fake or fraud - at some stage in our lives.
And plenty of famous people admit to feeling like an imposter too, so you're in good company.
Imposter syndrome is a term used to describe a psychological pattern in which you doubt your own abilities, skills and knowledge - despite evidence of your achievements & experience.
Feelings of not being good enough can stem from our upbringing, family, friends, societal pressure, media and advertising. Social media is particularly bad for perpetuating the idea of things being 'perfect' in other people's lives and businesses, and we can't help but compare ourselves to others.
When you run your own business, its easy to start feeling inadequate because you put pressure on yourself to be good at so many things. Not only are you serving your clients, but you might be doing your own admin, branding, graphic design, social media, marketing and website.... plus you need to figure out all the tools and technology yourself.
It can be frustrating and leave you feeling like you're not technical enough or that you don't have what it takes to run a successful business. And when you begin to internalise the message that you're not good enough, it has a big impact on your self-esteem and how you show up in your business.
Imposter syndrome acts as a blocker that keeps us playing small and prevents us from reaching our potential in business - and life!
Here are some steps to help you combat the negative effects of imposter syndrome:
The first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is to realise that it's completely normal to feel this way. All you need to do is google 'famous people with imposter syndrome' and you'll find that you're not alone. I'm talking about Serena Williams, Marie Forleo, Maya Angelou, Lady Gaga, Natalie Portman, Lupita Nyong'o and Jennifer Lopez to name but a few.
If you're struggling, just be honest about how you're feeling with those around you. Find a friend or peer in a similar situation and buddy up. Devise a plan on how you can tackle this together. Perhaps a quick call or some voice notes is all it takes to give one another a boost when the self-doubt starts to creep in.
Create a 'hype file'
Create yourself a 'hype file' full of all the things you're good at and all the good things people have said about you. Testimonials, case studies, reviews, social media shout-outs, email compliments, positive feedback etc. You can also write down all the skills, qualifications and experiences that helped shape you into the person you are today, no matter how big or small. And whip out your hype file whenever you need a confidence boost.
It's not about you
Your attention is in the wrong place, sister. It's time to shift your focus from thinking about yourself to thinking about your clients. By focusing on your ideal client and their needs, you begin to attract the right-fit people to your business.
We do business with people that we know, like and trust. So when you show up as your authentic self, you start to attract people who value and appreciate you and are happy to pay properly to work with you.
And when you're aligned with your vision and brand and what your ideal client wants, you feel fulfilled and happy.
Let go of perfection
Treat being an entrepreneur or small business owner as one big experiment. You should be co-creating your business alongside your customers, by truly understanding their pain points and coming up with solutions.
When you start seeing things as an experiment, you give yourself permission to practice imperfect action. You stop procrastinating and make progress in your business.
Things don't need to be perfect. Think about one small experiment you can do today to test out your idea. Can you ask someone for feedback on an idea? Create a survey? Test out a new product or service?
Progress is better than perfection.
Lead with your heart and not with your head.
When you're stuck in your head, it's easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. You get distracted and tend to overthink everything... which ultimately keeps you stuck.
So instead of worrying about what everyone else is doing, stay in your own lane. Stick with what you know, and keep focused on your own business.
When you shut out all the noise and focus on your own business, you'll be amazed at how much progress you're able to make. You no longer get distracted by shiny objects, and stop receiving advertising messages telling you you're not good enough and you just need to learn this thing or master that thing.
There's no such thing as the wrong decision
As a small business owner, you need to make hundreds of decisions all the time, and mostly on your own. Making the wrong decision makes you worry that you're going to mess things up, waste time or money.
The good news is that there's no such thing as the wrong decision! If you make a decision, and it doesn't work out, you will have learned a valuable lesson about what doesn't work for you. Sometimes the process of elimination can take a while. So instead of procrastinating with your decision, flip a coin.
I have a degree in Graphic Design and I couldn't make a decision with my own branding. After 4 months of indecision, tweaking and changing my logo, I finally paid someone to design it for me so she would give me 3 options to choose from. We were done in less than a week!
So putting money on the table can help you make a decision more quickly and actually save you months of time faffing around. You will make a decision and move on with your business.
You already have the answers
If you're feeling stuck on something in particular, try journalling or brain storming. Don't edit yourself, just write freely and let the stream of consciousness flow. This is a great way to get the mess that's in your head out onto paper, and you'll probably uncover the answer through this process, or at least the next steps you should take.
I love to do this on a walk! I have a question I need to answer, and then dictate myself talking into my phone (love Otter for this!). By the end of the walk I've answered my own question and figured out my next steps.
Let this become part of your weekly routine, and trust & enjoy the process.
YOU are what's unique about your brand
“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of coloured glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
This quote by Mark Twain rings true. So your business and brand may have been done before, but nobody has done it in the way that you have. No one has the same life experience and world views as you. YOU are what's unique about your business and brand.
Your value proposition is the sweet spot between what you stand for and believe in, the work that comes easy to you, and your beliefs, knowledge, experience and expertise.
And this is what differentiates you from the crowd, helps your ideal client feel connected to you and want to work with you, and only you!
The best thing you can do to overcome imposter syndrome is to take action! What can you do TODAY that will help you feel better about yourself and move forward in your business - and life?
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