I think everyone must feel like an imposter at some point in their lives, but it’s what they do that can push them forward, or hold them back. Imposter syndrome can be quite debilitating. Stopping you from growing your business, promoting your services, going after that ideal client!
I know that when I moved to France and started my own VA business, I often felt like an imposter. I was a real techie but wasn’t familiar with a lot of the tools out there that were catering for small businesses. I had always worked a 9-5, and although I have a degree and a masters, I had never ran my own business, so needed to put all of the marketing, sales, accounts study into practice. Sometimes, it felt like an uphill struggle and that I would never be good enough. But, I realised that this was my fear of being exposed as a fraud, and that actually I did have the knowledge and experience to run my own VA business.
Here are 10 tips to help banish that imposter syndrome, that I’ve picked up along the way
Get a mentor
Get someone who can guide you through your skills and experience, identify your strengths and give you advice on how to build on your weaknesses. They will be able to see things that you can’t see. They may be able to show you how working in logistics for the last 10 years, gives you the perfect skill set to become and Event Planner! Your mentor doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal paid agreement, it could be an informal set up where someone volunteers to sit down with you periodically to see how you’re getting on
Talk to your peers/community
The other place to get support is from other people in your industry. They will have overcome a lot of the same problems you have had, and may be able to offer advice. Even if they haven’t come across exactly the same issue, they can offer a friendly shoulder to cry on. And everyone knows you feel better after a good moan or rant with your friends!
Research your topic area
One of the best ways to get over imposter syndrome is to do your research. Know your subject back to front and inside out. Then when you get a client, you will feel positive about your ability, you will be able to offer them advice, which will further increase you confidence and your imposter syndrome will start to disappear into the background.
Go for easy wins
Think about something that you can do easily. Is it PowerPoint design, is it creating some illustrations that you can quickly make, that you know is popular at the moment? Whatever it is, promote these products and services, sell them quite cheaply and get some interest in your business. Once you start getting clients, you will become more comfortable in what you are offering and feel more confident in yourself and your business.
Find questions on Quora or Stack Overflow on your particular subject
If you search on Question sites for your topic area, you will find that there are lots of people asking questions about that subject matter. Pick a few of the questions and think about how you would answer them. This will demonstrate to yourself that you do know more about the subject than you thought you did, and show that you aren’t the fraudster you fear you might be. Maybe even write a blog post responding to the questions. This way you will be able to use these posts to demonstrate to prospective clients that you know what you are talking about.
Look at what others are doing
Look around your industry. What are others doing? What do their websites look like? Do they have a Facebook page? Are they active on Twitter? Do some peer analysis and understand what they are doing that you like and that you could also offer. Think about how your skill set compares with theirs. Look at what you’re doing better, or differently and understand that you are in the right place. Be careful not to choose the Tony Robins of your industry, or you might do more harm than good!
Review your CV
Not because you’re going to use it, to go get yourself another 9-5 but because it will demonstrate your transferable skills! You will have picked up a number of skills during your working life. Think about which ones you enjoyed and how you can use them in your business in a slightly different way. This will help you realise the experience you bring and increase your confidence in your ability to successfully manage your business.
Take a course
If you really feel like you don’t know enough to offer your services publicly, then go do a course on the subject matter. Just type your keyword into google and I expect a number of courses will appear. This will give you additional knowledge, that perhaps you thought you were missing and take away the feeling that you don’t know what you are doing.
Take a deep breath and just go for it
Fake it ‘til you make it. Remind yourself of your skills, tell yourself that you can do it, Act like you have all the experience you need and you will gain the skill set as you go along. But don’t get in over your head, make sure that you are 80% there before you start offering your services to paying clients. Don’t use them as your way to learn a new subject. You could fail and you will not be able to add the value that someone more experienced could. In the long term is a sure way to get a bad reputation!
Create a list of everything you can do
This was something an ex-boss told me to do, when I had been bullied by her replacement and had lost all confidence. The list reminded me of all the things I had achieved, all the experience I had gained and the skill set I had. It also helped me regain my confidence and go seek a better job, where I was supported and acknowledged for the work I did. Now, every time I feel like a fraud, I go back to that list and add any new skills and achievements to it. It might sound a bit egotistical, but it helps bury my imposter syndrome back where it should be!
Hope these 10 tips help you understand your strengths better and be more confident in your abilities. Know that you’ve got this. Do you have any pointers that we could add to this list? If so, please leave a comment below
If you’ve enjoyed this article, then please feel free to have a nose around the rest. In particular, if you are just setting up your business, this might be of interest 10 things I’ve learned since leaving my corporate job
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