You’ve always envisioned starting your own business, and now you have created a new company from the ground up. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a creative professional, you’re serving clients, making money, and living the life you want—on your terms. There’s just one problem. You feel like a fraud.

Most people experience imposter syndrome, and entrepreneurs are no exception. In fact, according to a study by Kajabi, a whopping 84% of entrepreneurs and small business owners report that they have faced imposter syndrome. When you have your own business, you are responsible for every last detail, so it makes perfect sense that imposter syndrome can emerge for business owners as they grow and develop their company.

How can you break free of imposter syndrome so it doesn’t completely sabotage your business?

Imposter Syndrome: A Challenge for Small Business Owners

As a small business owner or creative leader, imposter syndrome can cause you to doubt your skills and accomplishments. Fear and a lack of confidence can begin to undermine your success, making you believe you’ve fooled people into thinking you’re more talented or qualified than you really are.

Many small business owners attribute their success to luck, timing, and connections and, as a result, they undervalue their own contributions. Despite tangible evidence of past achievements, you may question your abilities, feel unworthy, and fear that other people will eventually see you as a fraud. Working alone often reinforces the belief that you must figure everything out yourself to prove your worth. You might hold back from sharing ideas or asking questions from your peers, fearing that it will reveal where you think you’re inadequate.

The Silent Struggle for Entrepreneurs

Imposter syndrome thrives in your mind, telling you that your work must be perfect and that you need to know everything to be seen as an expert. This can lead to obsessing over judgments that may or may not even exist. It’s a cycle: Setting unrealistically high expectations can lead to feelings of failure when you don’t meet them. Overworking and over-preparing to “prove yourself” can become a time-consuming and ineffective coping mechanism. The results: poor work-life balance, stress, burnout, fatigue, and overall dissatisfaction. Imposter syndrome ultimately sabotages your success.

Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, is success story of an entrepreneur who worked hard to overcome imposter syndrome. When she started Spanx, she had no formal business training and faced constant self-doubt about launching her business. Sara combated these feelings by working on her own self-talk, embracing her innovative product, and focusing on the benefits that it provided her customers. Spanx has since become a globally recognized brand, making Sara one of the youngest self-made female billionaires.

Conquer Imposter Syndrome and Boost Your Business

Chipping away at imposter syndrome happens one step at a time. Below are some strategies that are a powerful first step toward running a successful business as the best version of yourself.

  • Quiet the Voice in Your Head: When imposter feelings come up, pause and reflect on how those thoughts are serving you. What would it feel like to reframe your imposter thoughts, feelings, and actions to create different thoughts, feelings, and actions? Grab your journal and write down your responses.
  • Be Your Own Biggest Cheerleader: Whether you’re running a business or leading a creative team, the inner voice that’s cheering for you needs to be louder than what’s trying to tear you down. What’s one thing that you can tell yourself coming from a place of empowerment that makes you stronger as a leader? Close your eyes and envision yourself being the leader you want to be!
  • Channel Past Successes: Think about what worked well in the past and make a list. How can you apply those learnings and strategies to your role as a business owner?
  • Make It About Them: Instead of getting caught up in how someone is viewing you, how would it feel to focus on the value you can help them with to solve a problem? Having a clear strategy on how you can serve your customers takes the pressure off you and brings it back to the business.
  • Give Yourself Permission to Fail: Failure is an opportunity for learning. Be patient with yourself; you don’t have to have it all figured out right now. Believing that you have the right experience to make it happen has a powerful domino effect in all aspects of your business.
  • Celebrate Your Wins: No matter how small, each win is an important milestone in your business trajectory. Claim your victories and shout them from the rooftops. Call people, send a group text, post your wins on social media. The more people rooting for you, the better. Positivity is contagious!
  • Adopt an Abundance Mindset: Stop comparing yourself to others. There is plenty of success available to go around. Once you claim your unique value in the business world, it will become clear how you can best serve your target audience.

Picking just one strategy and consistently working on it every day will create a big impact.

Living Big for a Successful Business

Imposter syndrome makes you think it’s safer to play small and live in the story you are telling yourself. Launching your own business is a huge, exciting undertaking that has the best chance of success when you live big! Be intentional about the story you are telling yourself so you can quiet the imposter voices, step into your true self, and embrace your truth. There’s nothing fraudulent about that.

 

Author

Karen Kunkel Young

Karen is an executive leadership and career coach who helps creative leaders take charge of their careers so they can confidently achieve the success that they want. A master storyteller, she is an experienced media strategist, content creator, and catalyst for brands seeking growth, working directly with creative leaders, founders, CXOs, and executive leadership. For more information on Karen, visit www.karenkunkelyoung.com.

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