Entrepreneurship is a difficult road.
It’s one that’s filled with critiques, challenges, disappointments, and doubt.
But it’s also an exciting journey with limitless possibilities.
While mistakes can certainly affect your business and success, they aren’t usually the end-all-be-all.
So, why then do 20% of businesses fail in the first year?
Part of the reason is the burden of imposter syndrome that entrepreneurs face. It wears them down, tugs on their weaknesses, and may eventually lead to them giving up.
What exactly is imposter syndrome?
Why does it haunt so many entrepreneurs?
And how can you fight it?
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you are a fraud in what you’re doing. It creeps up on entrepreneurs in all industries. It may be a slowly building feeling or one that smacks you from the beginning, but it’s the looming sensation that you really don’t know what you’re doing.
This feeling makes total sense for entrepreneurs. When you are building your business and putting yourself in new situations, it’s normal to feel uncertain. As an entrepreneur, you CAN’T know it all right away, and this can lead you to feel like you don’t have the knowledge or skills to succeed at what you’re doing.
How Common is Imposter Syndrome?
If you’ve ever felt a dash of imposter syndrome, you aren’t alone. 84% of business professionals and entrepreneurs feel it! Kajabi, a platform for entrepreneurs with education content, conducted a study on imposter syndrome. They wanted to help the entrepreneurial community understand how to overcome self-doubt. What they found is that 84% experience imposter syndrome! A lot of these entrepreneurs are worried about “being found out” for lacking knowledge or ability.
The Impact of Imposter Syndrome on Entrepreneurs
Imposter syndrome is not just a nasty feeling, it is a huge barrier for entrepreneurs. Venturing off to start your business or consulting is a big risk and challenge. Imposter syndrome is a barrier to success. It causes you to feel isolated and manifests self-doubt.
Imagine that you make a mistake that puts your business back a step. This is VERY common for entrepreneurs. For someone who is confident and feels assured in what they are doing, the mistake is a learning experience. It’s an opportunity to improve and a chance to do better. For someone struggling with imposter syndrome, andy mistake breeds more self-doubt. Rather than feel confident you can overcome the challenge and do better next time, the mistake will feel like another reminder that you “aren’t competent enough” and may discourage you from continuing.
How to Fight Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome is the antithesis of entrepreneurship. It’s the kryptonite that can destroy your work from the inside out. Don’t let it overtake you. Here are the ways to fight imposter syndrome.
As much as you should want to battle imposter syndrome, you should also recognize that it’s normal. Acknowledge the feelings you are experiencing, and consider how natural they are when you are challenging yourself. It may help you to journal or write out your feelings.
Talk About It
As an entrepreneur, you may be starting off your journey alone. You may not know many others in the same situation, and imposter syndrome can be isolating. Talk about it with someone you trust, or turn to another person in a similar situation. There are many online resources and platforms that bring together entrepreneurs. Talk to others in a similar situation, behind you, and ahead of you. This way, you can learn about how some successful people overcame imposter syndrome, but you can also relate to others in the same situation.
Be Honest with Skills
Don’t try to be something you are not. Rather than positioning yourself as an absolute expert, you can qualify what you do know based on your experience. For example, share something you’ve learned or a skill you’ve gained from your work so far. This takes the pressure off and helps you to feel more genuine.
There are areas you will need to improve at. Be honest with yourself and clients about these areas. Look for opportunities to take on new challenges and to learn new skills. Be open to learning, knowing you won’t feel like an expert at first.
Pass the Hats On
When starting out, it’s easy to try to do everything yourself, to wear all of the “hats”. It’s “cheaper” and helps you maintain control if you handle it all. But chances are, you are not a marketer, accountant, SEO expert, website coder, etc etc all at once. Trying to do it all will certainly make you feel less competent. As your budget allows, outsource some responsibilities to the experts so you can focus on your core competencies and what you do best.
Imposter syndrome poses a serious threat to entrepreneurship. Don’t let it take you down! Recognize that the feeling is normal, but take active steps to move past it and reach your full potential.