Imposter Syndrome and Small Business Owners
Do You Feel Like an Imposter?
As a small business owner, you’ve devoted time and effort to developing your craft – whether that be handmade jewelry, website design, or coaching other business owners. You are skilled at your trade. You are passionate. Your clients regularly recommend your work to others in the industry (and we all know word of mouth referrals are golden).
In steps imposter syndrome! It looks like this: You are accomplishing what you set out to achieve in business, but one day while planning your next quarter (or some other next-step milestone), a thought permeates and overrides your sense of accomplishment.
Your thoughts turn to “Just when are they going to realize that I unable to do what I do?” or “They will discover that I am a fake.” Does this sound familiar? It happens to highly successful and high achieving people all the time.
Imposter Syndrome is Real
Imposter syndrome is a common psychological phenomenon where people, especially those that are high achievers, feel unworthy of their accomplishments or are convinced they are inadequate and have an incessant fear of being exposed as a fraud.
While imposter syndrome is a real phenomenon, did you catch the paradox? It is those, and we’ll use small business owners as an example here, who are capable, qualified, and proven, who doubt themselves the most.
Negative Outcomes from Imposter Syndrome
It does help to know that imposter syndrome happens to many people. If you are one of those people—know that you aren’t alone.
But what happens when we don’t kick the nagging imposter syndrome out the door? Imposter syndrome, which can present itself as a mere feeling of not being good enough (A distortion!), can:
- Rob us of growth in our business
- Stop us from taking bold and necessary steps
- Steal our happiness
- Squash our creativity
- Make us keep to ourselves because we think we have nothing of value to offer to potential connections
The Reality of Your Success
A realistic perspective begins to set back in once you evaluate what true success looks like, and this consists of your own unique perception of success.
To expose the reality of your success, list out your successes. Then, list the talents and skills that helped you achieve your successes. As you write, refrain from any thoughts of, “That was sheer luck” or “That really isn’t all that special.” Review your successes and accomplishments. Allow a sense of celebration for what you have achieved. Each time you begin to feel “I am incapable of doing this,” pull your list back out! Do not forget to add new successes to the list.
Some business owners describe success in the sense of revenue, “I’ve made X amount of dollars,” while other entrepreneurs measure success by non-monetary accomplishments, “I’ve remodeled ten homes for impoverished families.” Your idea of success is unique, but the reality is, your own talents and skills help you obtain your business success regardless of how you define it.
How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Identifying success isn’t the only answer to overcoming imposter syndrome.
Be aware that imposter syndrome can worsen, and it can make an ugly reappearance when you least expect it. So, be prepared with strategies to fight it off when it pops in!
Here are some additional strategies for overcoming imposter syndrome:
Develop a mindset that alerts you to feelings of “They are going to find out who I really am” or “I don’t deserve this.” Once you develop an awareness that you will feel these thoughts, you will develop repeated strategies (habits) to stop them.
Start a gratitude journal. Remember to celebrate YOU on a daily basis. Most, if not all, accomplishments happen because of your talents and skills. Luck is not your go-to answer as a small business owner.
What are you grateful for today? Name five things.
You are the expert in your business. How can you share your expertise with others? You can serve in a mentor group, or participate in a Facebook group, or do live Q&A sessions on Instagram or YouTube. Once you begin putting your expertise out there, it will help boost your sense of “I do know this, and others benefit and learn from me.”
Accept Your Struggles
Sometimes the best way to resolve a problem is to accept it, feel it, and then leave it behind. Remember, you are not feeling anything that somebody else has not felt, and the feelings that you are experiencing right now are typically fleeting non-truths.
Acceptance does not mean you don’t work. Dive into what you do and do not allow your inner-thoughts to permeate. You may be surprised at how your thoughts help you to push forward and achieve vs. hold you back in fear.
Embrace your fear. Who achieves anything in life without facing something new? Celebrate what fears you and don’t allow fear to stop you.
Talk with Others
Remember this, you are NOT alone with imposter syndrome.
Talking with others and sharing experiences will help you dump the gut-wrenching feeling of “Why me?” or “I am alone with this.”
You never know who might be experiencing the same thoughts as you, and just by sharing your experience, you may help others, and that is truly empowering! Honesty always serves as a building block of trust in both you and your business.
We are Here to Help!
We get the importance of your vision to succeed and we’re here to support your development as an entrepreneur and small business.