No matter your years of experience, outstanding reviews, or accomplishments, you may still need help with confidence as a small business owner.
Imposter syndrome is a feeling of fraudulence or self-doubt when faced with success. It's an invisible barrier that can hold your e-commerce, creative business, and small business back from achieving your full potential, especially if you are working independently. Despite all the hard work you have put into creating and growing your business, you may feel like you don't deserve it.
Unfortunately, imposter syndrome is more than just a passing thought - it can be debilitating for many striving entrepreneurs, so identifying and combatting it are important steps to take to become successful in any creative business.
Before we work on reducing the flare-ups of Imposter Syndrome, let's dive a bit deeper into what it is and whether or not you struggle with it.
Imposter syndrome is the belief that you are not as competent as others believe you to be. This can lead to feelings of fraudulence and self-doubt, even when you are successful. Imposter syndrome is common among high-achievers and can be detrimental to your personal and professional life.
To figure out if you struggle with imposter syndrome, work through the self-assessment below:
- Do you often feel like your accomplishments are due to luck or timing, rather than your own skills and abilities?
- Do you have a hard time accepting compliments or recognition for your work?
- Do you frequently compare yourself to others and feel like you don't measure up?
- Are you afraid of being exposed as a fraud or not living up to others' expectations?
- Do you hesitate to take on new challenges because you feel like you're not qualified enough?
- Do you find yourself constantly seeking validation from others, even when it's unnecessary?
- Do you experience feelings of anxiety or stress related to your work or achievements?
If you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, there is a possibility that you may be struggling with imposter syndrome.
If this is you, you aren't alone! According to a review article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, up to 70% of people experience imposter syndrome at some point in their lives. This feeling of self-doubt and inadequacy can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or level of success.
However, recognizing that imposter syndrome is a common experience can help individuals feel less alone and more empowered to overcome it.
Imposter syndrome does not pick and choose which areas of your life to manifest in.
As a result, there is a good chance you have experienced imposter syndrome in your business.
Below are six ways, you may have seen imposter syndrome manifest in your business:
- Difficulty pricing products/services: How often have you asked friends what they would pay for (insert item)? Even with their response, listing your product at that price may still feel uncomfortable. Who would really buy this item? It is tempting to undervalue your skills and charge less than you're worth.
- Fear of self-promotion: As a small business owner, you must put yourself out there to share your brand and product. You may feel like you're bragging or being pushy when you promote yourself and your work. Instead, you may try to stay small.
- Hesitation to share work: A bit of vulnerability is required to step out and share your work while you brace for what your audience has to say... or not say. You aren't sure if it is good enough.
- Comparison to others: Social media can open the door to comparing yourself to other creators or designers and feel like you don't measure up, leading you to doubt your own abilities.
- Perfectionism: You may strive for perfection in your work, leading you to obsess over details and spend too much time on individual projects. This may result in missing opportunities to sell or waste money by recreating something over and over again.
- Difficulty accepting compliments: You may have a hard time accepting compliments on your work, feeling like you don't deserve the praise. Or you may deflect and share the praise in another person's direction instead of taking credit for your hard work.
Of all the ways above, pricing products is one I struggle with the most. I know the time, effort, creativity and investment that goes into building my products, but I sometimes put my customer over my own needs not always in a healthy way. I am very conscious of my ideal customer’s budget. However, what helps me is knowing the unique value I bring to the table and that I can really change their business by investing in my product.
No matter the severity of your imposter syndrome, it is possible to overcome it.
There are a number of ways that you can overcome imposter syndrome, including:
- Identifying your achievements and accomplishments: With how fast running a small business can be, it is easy to move on to the next thing before looking at the great work you have completed. Don't forget to recognize even the small wins.
- Celebrate your achievements and accomplishments: Identifying your good work is one step, but take it a step further by celebrating. Can you share a win with your closest friends and family? Or take a bonus day off to enjoy a day at the pool.
- Recognizing that everyone feels like an imposter at times: As mentioned earlier, upwards of 70% of people have experienced imposter syndrome. This will help you realize that your feelings or thoughts may be true but aren't the truth.
- Find a support network that speaks the truth: Even if you may not believe in yourself at times, surrounding yourself with people who are positive, uplifting, and you respect will give you the confidence you need when it is difficult to find it on your own.
- Talk about your doubts: Discussing them with a trusted friend or colleague can help put them into perspective. It can also help to have someone who understands your situation. Empathy is key!
- Challenge your negative thoughts: When you have negative thoughts about your abilities, challenge them! Remember when you have been successful and that everyone makes mistakes sometimes.
If you overcome imposter syndrome, the sky will be the limit in your business. This is because you will be more likely to take risks, delegate tasks, and ask for help when needed. As a result, you will also be more likely to pursue new opportunities and reach your full potential.
This sounds great and ideal, but are there any downsides to overcoming imposter syndrome?
Overall, there are no downsides to overcoming imposter syndrome. But moving on from imposter syndrome will force you to step out in courage and no longer accept playing small as a way of life. Instead, you will become more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
In the unknown is where we grow.
You may have yet to be aware of the role imposter syndrome has played in your business and resulted in making some of the decisions you have made. But, no matter how many times you answer "YES" above, it is possible to change your mindset. Little by little, we can form new habits and neurological transmitter pathways.
Please consider where you are struggling with imposter syndrome the most in your business and reach out for help if needed.
There is no such thing as being "not good enough"; this feeling only amplifies when we don't address it or think about it critically. So take action now – challenge yourself and face your fears head-on!