Beating Imposter Syndrome When Running Your Own Business

“Imposter syndrome” is something that all sorts of different individuals, from all sorts of different walks of life, find themselves contending with on a regular basis — and it has the ability to be a deeply corrosive force, that undermines well being, stifles potential, and contributes a disproportionately negative outlook.

Essentially, “imposter syndrome” is the phenomenon where, whenever you’re working on a particular project that you invest a significant amount of value in, you find yourself feeling like a “fake,” or as though you’re not really cut out for what you’re doing.

In the context of entrepreneurship, imposter syndrome may manifest itself in the feeling that you are not as qualified as you need to be to do the work you are doing, or are nowhere near “on the ball” enough to be a successful and thriving entrepreneur who manages a growing business.

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Imposter syndrome can strike in many different areas, as well — and especially whenever you are embarking on a new course of action that you hope will result in you making some effective change in your life.

Individuals who set foot in the gym for the first time in order to begin the journey towards getting fit, for example, tend to be quite prone to experiencing imposter syndrome — as do artists who are trying to gain some recognition for their creations.

In fact, even individuals who are well established successes at what they do can, and often do, still fall prey to imposter syndrome.

Today, there are all sorts of different resources out there to help individuals to improve their performance and to thrive in a range of different areas, including entrepreneurship. You can find detailed Shopify help guides, for example, that can make a significant difference in your ability to run an effective web store. Or you can find any number of great resources on how to get in shape, and stay in shape, over time.

Imposter syndrome is largely its own challenge, though, and needs to be met and addressed on its own terms.

Here are a few tips for beating imposter syndrome when running your own business, that might make a real difference in your ability to thrive and enjoy the ride each day, while working on your entrepreneurial hustle.

Establish regular habits that help to solidify the sense of identity you’re aiming for

On a day-to-day basis, a major factor in shaping our overall sense of identity — and in determining how likely we are to feel “authentic” in particular roles or when working on particular endeavours — is the habits that we have in place at any given time.

According to James Clear, author of the highly popular book “Atomic Habits,” each repetition of a given habit should really be viewed as a “vote” for a particular sense of identity that are aiming to embody more and more in your own life.

For someone wanting to become a dedicated fitness enthusiast and to “feel the part,” therefore, simply turning up day after day and doing the things a fitness enthusiast would do — primarily working out — is the path to feeling more and more authentic about that role.

In the context of running your own business, the same principle is likely to apply. Focus on establishing daily habits that help you to feel authentic and professional, and that solidify the particular sense of identity you’re going for.

Dress the part and present yourself accordingly

The way that you dress and present yourself has an amazing ability to shape not only how other people perceive you, but also how you perceive yourself.

Human psychology is very strange and fascinating in many ways, and researchers have identified that things as apparently minor and straightforward as the kind of posture you assume when sitting at a desk can dramatically influence your confidence and energy levels, and can even change the levels of different hormones circulating in your bloodstream.

The clothing you wear can have the same kind of effect, and for many entrepreneurs who work primarily from home, in particular, this point often isn’t appreciated quite strongly enough.

To put it simply — you’re far more likely to experience imposter syndrome, and to struggle to deal with it, if you are trying to make important deals and handle important professional calls, while wearing your pyjamas or a cosy tracksuit.

By dressing and presenting yourself each day in a way that makes you feel professional and capable, you are naturally going to be in a significantly better position when it comes to fighting against imposter syndrome.

Stay as well-organised and consistent as possible

Imposter syndrome is always likely to be especially rife — and to be especially difficult to escape from — in occasions where you are relatively disorganised, and aren’t managing to exercise good time management and overall planning.

Any time you want to achieve success in a particular dimension of your life, the ability to stay well-organised and consistent is likely to be of the utmost importance — and this is certainly the case when it comes to entrepreneurial success.

Don’t let the fact that you are largely responsible for determining your own schedule as an entrepreneur throw you off course, or lead you into bad habits. Become very vigilant with regards to your time keeping, and with sticking to the schedules you assign yourself, and be as consistent as you can.

Aim to establish and stick with daily routines, and to “be on the ball” at all times. If you can make it to the end of the day and take genuine pride in the fact that you have done everything right that day, to the best of your ability, you’ll be armed with something that you can use to meaningfully fight back against imposter syndrome.

Remember and record your achievements, and reflect on them at regular intervals

Sometimes, you just need to be able to encourage yourself and to be your own cheerleader when you are facing imposter syndrome.

As you go through your professional life in general, and your entrepreneurial life in particular, make a point of recording a note of each of your achievements — the things that make you feel like the real deal, and that give you a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Without becoming arrogant or overly narcissistic, you should reflect on those achievements for a moment whenever you start questioning yourself. Don’t undermine or pick apart your achievements, use them as a way of lifting yourself up.

If you’re new to the path you’re on, or don’t have any real achievements you can single out for one reason or another, that’s fine. Just do what you can to rack some achievements up — even minor ones — and make a note of them as you do.

Attack, question and undermine your limiting beliefs

Limiting beliefs are at the heart of imposter syndrome — and they have a way of completely undermining any sense of accomplishment, and of interfering with your ability to achieve your potential in any number of different domains.

Limiting beliefs are always based on how we interpret particular experiences, the assumptions we make, and even the things we imagine — but when those beliefs are established, they continue to undermine us largely in a subconscious manner.

Identifying your limiting beliefs and taking steps to actively attack, question and undermine them can do a world of good when it comes to helping to defeat imposter syndrome.

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll start to doubt anything that you start scrutinising and questioning intensively. Too many of us scrutinise all of our achievements to dust. Try scrutinising your limiting beliefs in that way, instead.

Surround yourself with professionals in your field

Participating in entrepreneurial networking groups — particular ones focused on your industry — can be a very effective way of helping to reshape your sense of who you are and what you are capable of on an everyday basis.

Generally speaking, we tend to absorb and mirror the energy of the people we habitually surround ourselves with. So if you have at least a few people around you who are driven and optimistic entrepreneurs, that may really help you to take your career to the next level and to stay motivated along the way.

In addition to networking groups, working at least some of the time out of coworking spaces may also be beneficial in this same way.

Engage in other lifestyle practices that help to boost confidence

As a general rule of thumb, the more things you do in your life on a day-to-day basis that help to grant you a sense of confidence, the more that confidence is likely to carry over to other areas — including your professional life.

This can have many different implications for how you should conduct yourself on a day-to-day basis, but certain practices that are likely to be particularly helpful include things like taking up — and sticking to — a regular fitness routine, and ensuring that you keep your living space tidy, organised, and aesthetically pleasing.