How beating Imposter Syndrome can help business growth

Tackle imposter syndrome to help business growth

As a business owner and company director, it’s never ‘easy’ to always feel 100% confident in my decision making, my work and the public speaking that I often do to raise awareness of my company. The truth is that I wouldn’t be able to do these things if I didn’t have some confidence, even if it’s often non-linear and dependent on what’s going on with the business as a whole and my own personal wellbeing. It is also true that demonstrating confidence helps to win new clients and make sales which of course has a direct impact on business growth. Having Imposter Syndrome, doubting your actions or your decisions, feeling like a fraud in meetings or when selling to customers can creep up on you at any time and if it persists, might even cripple your potential. Being able to tackle imposter syndrome can help business growth and also enable you to feel great about your decisions and your work. It could propel you forward into the limelight a little too, which can help raise your company profile. All of that benefits business growth.

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Self-confidence and performance helps your business to grow

The National Academic Press

If we look at this from a business perspective, how confident we are (or not) influences what we strive to do and how we go about achieving our goals. And it effects the actual goals we set because they are often dependent on what we believe is achievable; what we are confident in being able to do. Imposter syndrome is far more common than you might imagine.

“70% of people will experience imposter syndrome”

So it’s nothing to hide or feel bad about at all. I think the more we talk about it, the better. In fact, for me, just knowing that experienced speakers or MDs that I admire have felt like a fraud on occasion helps me to look closely at what I’m doing and gives me more confidence in my own abilities. Simply knowing that you’re not alone can be instrumental in learning to tackle imposter syndrome and beat it.

Leading Leadership Expert, Alison Jones says:

“We talk a lot about imposter syndrome in the realms of running a business. Whether it’s a feeling of not being good enough, a fear of failing or worrying that no one will buy your services, we’ve probably all been there at some point in our journey. My own fear of failure has been instrumental for me. It drives me to push boundaries and helped me to understand that failure is subjective: what is a failure to one person is a success to someone else. Failure is rarely about the event itself but about it validating beliefs we often have about ourselves. Beliefs we all have. Almost every failure I’ve ever had has been a springboard to something better, so I try to see failure as a good thing, even when it’s painful.”

In my experience, feeling that you’re not good enough is a big one – we’ve all been there right? Don’t let that stop you in your tracks, make a list of what you’ve achieved so far, include all of the positive things you know are true and also things that have been said about you and anything else that you’re proud of. Make a list of the things you’d like to be better at doing in order to progress your business. Think about ways you can, over time, be better at doing these things and make a plan. Keep it simple and achievable for yourself. I was recently rejected by someone I asked to collaborate with on a project because they didn’t think my work was good enough. I knew that my work was good enough, but that it was a case of not having the right type of clients in our portfolio of past work. However, of course an experience like that is going to make me doubt myself and it did in fact make me feel like I am not good enough. So, working on turning the ‘failure’ into a springboard to something better, as Alison has done, can only drive me forward which will help our business to grow.

You know that saying “feel the fear and do it anyways”? This could apply to every day work such as making that phone call you’ve been putting off or deciding to go for an opportunity you’re not 100% sure about. Likewise, it could apply to something larger and more public like pitching or speaking. Data insights specialist Bonamy Waddell of Bon Insight shares her experience of this:

“I had my first taste of public speaking a couple of months ago, via an opportunity with the Brighton Chamber. I was flattered to be asked – but then panic set in! For me, it was one of my big 2019 hurdles to overcome. Having quite recently gone self-employed, my first year was all about ‘setting up’ my company, Bon Insight. This year the focus has been more about building my reputation – through networking, content, as well as challenging myself to try new things, such as public speaking. This talk was to a small group, but it was still terrifying, I’m not going to lie! Ultimately though, I was there to share my personal experiences and tips of going from 20 years working in global organisations, to being a one-girl band. So I couldn’t ‘get it wrong’ as such. The next challenge will be to do this in front of a slightly larger audience…! I’d recommend it though – it’s important to put yourself outside of your comfort zone. And everyone’s on your side, rooting for you – and you get a warm, fuzzy, proud feeling once it’s over!”

Bonamy set herself challenges based on her company growth stages, she didn’t try to do everything at once. This can be an effective approach to beating imposter syndrome too, and as I mentioned earlier, it’s not necessarily linear. The key here is to recognise what your doubts and fears are and then make a plan to combat those, at whatever speed and in whatever way suits you. Furthermore, by challenging herself, Bonamy was successful in increasing her company credibility and reputation by being aligned with the Brighton Chamber of Commerce.

It might be that building your reputation in a similar way or doing it more formally by going after credentials through training and qualifications is an initial step in feeling more confident. I’m constantly building on my confidence by attending marketing related workshops in addition to doing online courses and some formal training, so that I can learn and develop my skills. It feels silly saying this, but I actually have my Masters Degree up on my office wall along with a poster of Frida Kahlo, one of my heroes. Reminders of both what I have achieved and also what I am capable of achieving (by ‘being more Frida’). All of this contributes to being able to beat imposter syndrome and grow our business.

Learning from each other, sharing our stories and knowing other people’s experiences through blogs, podcasts, talks and seminars can all help to tackle imposter syndrome and enable our businesses to grow.

Please share your experience, blog or podcast below in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.

Meg Fenn, Director of Shake It Up Creative