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Inside The Office Startup

You’re a Fierce Female Entrepreneur, Right?

Your accomplishments are clear. Your business grows every day. You’re making money, hiring employees, being asked to speak on your area of expertise and writing books. But sometimes you feel like you don’t have what it takes. Your confidence lags and your mind spins with negative thoughts about your ability to succeed. Imposter syndrome sets in.

Your anxiety is lying to you. According to Psychology Today, “research suggests 25 to 30 percent of high achievers may suffer from imposter syndrome. And around 70 percent of adults may experience impostorism at least once in their lifetime.” 

Do you relate? The founders we spoke with do. If you have ever had concerns about your ability to succeed in business, you are not alone. 

Imposter syndrome is more common than you think

Paulette Jackson is the founder and director of SCORP Lady Ventures, voiceover professional, published author, writer and radio personality. Even with all of her accomplishments, she shared with us that she has struggled with her confidence at times.

“One of the barriers I’ve faced is that my self-confidence wasn’t strong. I’ve taken great steps in overcoming this challenge but it took work,” Jackson said. “I now pass my experience on to others.”

Another successful business owner, Therese Gopaul-Robinson echoed the same issue. “The biggest barrier I have had to overcome as a business owner was my lack of confidence in my own ability.” She is the owner and president of The Therese GR Company, a leadership consultant and a keynote speaker.

Moments of insecurity or feeling like a fraud can happen in the entrepreneurial journey. So put those “brain weasels” (negative thoughts racing around your mind) back in their cages. You are right where you are supposed to be. And if you aren’t, we have some resources to help you get there.

Being taken seriously as a woman and an expert

Being taken seriously can be a challenge as a woman, not because of your abilities, but because of sexist biases.

“I’ve not only had to prove myself to myself. I had to prove myself to others, especially men who don’t believe a woman really can be savvy, smart and practical when it comes to business deals,” said Jackson.

Other people misunderstanding your work adds another layer. Lisa Michelle Smith, founder and head trainer of The Coaching Center for Mind Training and Success said it was a challenge to “help people to recognize the valid science behind the behavior-change tools I use and not see them as ‘woo woo’ or ‘new age’ or even ‘the work of the devil.’” 

She shared that overcoming this barrier was especially difficult when she was younger. It was a struggle to be “…taken seriously/have credibility as a professional hypnotherapist when I was in my 20s.”

What is an expert?

While having deep knowledge in a field is an objective sign of expertise, the way you perceive the role of an expert can impact your confidence. Your relationship with the definition of the word “expert” can impact how you feel about your own expertise. For most, expert implies many things: experience, knowledge and confidence. But you can have expertise without being an expert.

Therese Gopaul-Robinson speaks to this, “The concept that I had to be an ‘expert’ was a barrier to success.”

Entrepreneur, not imposter: addressing imposter syndrome

Having feelings of insecurity is more common than you think. When you experience imposter syndrome or a lack of confidence:

  • Acknowledge those feelings.
  • Talk with someone who will support you and tell you the truth.
  • Keep trying and learning.
  • Realize that you are not the only person who has this concern.
  • Let perfectionism go.
  • Celebrate your progress.
  • Remember that failure is not final.
  • Continue to grow.

You are not the only entrepreneur to struggle with the confidence barrier. You wouldn’t feel this way if you weren’t stepping outside your comfort zone and pushing boundaries, which is what you’re supposed to be doing. Every business needs to grow and change. So do business owners. Keep pushing those boundaries.

When you feel like you’re a fraud and wearing a mask, reframe that and know you are a superhero. You really are fierce.

Learn more about developing confidence in 6 Ways to Increase Your Confidence & Be More Successful.

About the author

Suzanne Drapeau

Suzanne Drapeau taught writing at the high school and college levels for 30 years and recently joined Carlton PR & Marketing. She spends her “free” time working/volunteering for the Hyperemesis Education and Research (HER) Foundation, where her main role is managing social media and building partnerships with other maternal health nonprofits. She lives in Michigan but hopes to become a digital nomad when her children finish their educations.

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