Overcoming Imposter Syndrome as a Small Business Owner

Finding ways to overcome imposter syndrome is a common issue amongst small business owners. When you’re responsible for the success or failure of your business, it’s easy to feel like a fraud. You may second-guess your decisions, doubt your abilities, and feel like you’re just winging it.

A recent study showed that up to a staggering 80% of adults can suffer from imposter syndrome at some point during their lives.

These feelings of self-doubt are very normal.  There are ways for overcoming imposter syndrome that will see you build confidence and are easy to implement.

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is a term used to describe the experience of feeling like a fraud or an imposter in one’s chosen field, despite evidence to the contrary.

It is thought to be particularly common among high-achieving individuals, who often feel that they are somehow “faking it” or that their success is simply due to luck.

Imposter syndrome can lead to feelings of anxiety and self-doubt and can stop you from taking risks or taking advantage of opportunities.

However, it is important to remember that everyone experiences imposter syndrome from time to time and that it doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is not qualified for their job.

What can trigger imposter syndrome?

Many people experience imposter syndrome at some point in their lives, but it can be especially prevalent in the workplace.

There are a few things that can trigger imposter syndrome at work, such as:

  • Starting a new business
  • Steering your business in a new direction
  • Being assigned a new project or task that is outside of your comfort zone
  • Receiving criticism from a client, co-worker or boss
  • Not being given credit for your ideas or work
  • Comparing yourself to others, whether that is a competitor or a co-worker

If you find yourself feeling like an imposter at work, it’s important to remember that everyone experiences these doubts and feelings of insecurity from time to time. It doesn’t mean that you are an imposter; it means are experiencing normal human emotions.

A wooden sign with two panels.  One arrow faces left and says doubt, the right arrow faces right and says believe.  Which direction should you take for overcoming imposter syndrome?

7 Tips for overcoming imposter syndrome and self-doubt

  1. Acknowledge your fears
  2. Challenge your negative thoughts
  3. Build self-confidence
  4. Set realistic goals
  5. Take action and don’t be afraid to make mistakes
  6. Surround yourself with positive people
  7. Don’t compare

It’s normal to feel like an imposter at some point in your career. After all, everyone has moments of self-doubt. But if you find that self-doubt is holding you back from reaching your full potential, it might be time to do something about it.

Here are seven tips for overcoming imposter syndrome:

1. Acknowledge your fears

Acknowledging your fears is an essential first step in addressing imposter syndrome. By doing so, you can begin to separate your doubts and insecurities from your actual abilities and accomplishments. This allows you to build a more realistic and positive view of yourself. 

There are a few ways you can acknowledge your fears, such as:

  • Talking to friends or family about your fears
  • Writing them down
  • Speaking to a professional

2. Challenge your negative thoughts

Negative thoughts can be highly damaging, particularly if you suffer from imposter syndrome. These thoughts can prevent you from reaching your full potential, and they can also lead to feelings of anxiety and low self-esteem.

Therefore, it is essential to challenge your negative thoughts when you suffer from imposter syndrome.

One way to do this is to identify the evidence that contradicts your negative thoughts. For example, if you believe that you are not good enough, ask yourself what evidence you have to support this belief.

Once you have identified the evidence that contradicts your negative thoughts, you can begin to question and challenge them.

This will help you see the situation more clearly and give you the confidence to pursue your goals.

3. Build self-confidence

One way to build self-confidence is to focus on your accomplishments. When you start to doubt yourself, take a moment to think about all the things you’ve achieved.

Another way to build self-confidence is to seek out support from others. Talk to people who believe in you and ask for their encouragement. Surround yourself with positive people who will help you feel good about yourself.

You can also build self-confidence by practising self-compassion. Be gentle with yourself and know that everyone makes mistakes; cut yourself some slack and give yourself credit for your progress.

Building self-confidence takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. Overcoming imposter syndrome can help you achieve your goals and live a more fulfilling life.

4. Set realistic goals

When you suffer from imposter syndrome, it can be tempting to set unrealistic goals to prove your worth. However, this can often backfire, leading to feelings of frustration and failure.

Instead, it is important to set realistic goals that you can reasonably achieve, which will help you build confidence and stay motivated.

Here are a few tips for setting realistic goals when you suffer from imposter syndrome:

  • Start small – Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew. Aim for achievable goals that you can complete without too much stress.
  • Set specific goals – Vague goals are more likely to lead to frustration and disappointment. Be clear about what you want to achieve and how you will know if you have succeeded.
  • Set a deadline – Having a timeline for your goal will help to keep you accountable and on track.
  • Get feedback from others – If you’re unsure whether your goal is realistic, ask for input from trusted friends or family members. They can help you gauge whether your goal is achievable and provide valuable support along the way.
  • Celebrate your successes – When you reach a goal, take the time to celebrate your achievement. This will help you to build momentum and keep imposter syndrome at bay.

5. Take action and don’t be afraid to make mistakes

It’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes, and you should never be afraid to fail. Making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn and grow.

If you’re suffering from imposter syndrome, there are a few things you can do to take action and overcome your fears.

  • Surround yourself with supportive people who will encourage you.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
  • Focus on your strengths and work on building up your confidence.

Taking action is the best way to combat imposter syndrome. So, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, they’re essential for learning and growth.

6. Surround yourself with positive people

Not everyone understands what it’s like to feel like an imposter, but if you suffer from imposter syndrome, you know how debilitating it can be.

Constantly doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud can take a toll on your mental health and prevent you from achieving your full potential.

One of the best ways in overcoming imposter syndrome is to surround yourself with positive people. Having friends and family members who believe in you and are supportive can make a world of difference.

Seek out mentors and colleagues who can provide guidance and advice. If you’re feeling down, talking to someone who understands what you’re going through can be incredibly helpful.

By surrounding yourself with positive people and building up a support system, you’ll be better equipped to manage your imposter syndrome and succeed.

7. Don’t compare

When you suffer from imposter syndrome, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other people and businesses. After all, if they’re successful, why can’t you be?

But comparisons are dangerous for two reasons.

  • They can fuel your imposter syndrome by making you feel like you’re not good enough.
  • They’re often not accurate.

Just because someone appears to be successful doesn’t mean they are. They could be struggling with the same feelings of self-doubt and insecurity that you are.

So instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your own journey and what you need to do to feel successful. Take small steps and celebrate your accomplishments, however small they may seem.

Remember, you are the only one who can define your success.


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