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How budding entrepreneurs can beat imposter syndrome

So, you’ve thought of a great new business idea.

You can see how it could really take off and can’t believe no one else is already doing it.

You try to imagine yourself launching the business and making it a success… but you falter. You have no experience of starting businesses and couldn’t possibly become an entrepreneur, could you?

Imposter syndrome has crept in but, luckily, there are ways of beating it.

What is imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome, or imposter phenomenon, is a strong physiological feeling of self-doubt that makes the person feel as though they’re a fraud and inadequate, regardless of praise or success. It is much more than just being modest.

It can lead to symptoms of anxiety, low self esteem and frustration, which in-turn can affect the person’s ability and general wellbeing.

And, whilst over 75% of people experience symptoms of imposter syndrome, only 15% actually understand what it is, according to this study in Insight.

If this sounds familiar to you, don’t worry – the phenomenon is common and there are ways to combat it and get your confidence back. Here are four tips to overcome entrepreneur imposter syndrome.

Recognise the benefits of being new in your field

Don’t underestimate the potential you have as someone new.

As a novice, you can freely question the way things are done or suggest new ways with a fresh set of eyes, something those with years of experience may struggle to step back and do themselves.

In fact, there are companies that recognise the value of an outsiders’ point of view so much that they actively crowdsource their business problems for outsiders to attempt to resolve, according to this Psychology Today article, further proving your value.

Like many entrepreneurs, you may need to throw yourself into the deep end to learn new skills.

Accept that you’re not alone

Imposter syndrome can make you feel like you’re the only fraud in the room, making you believe you got where you are by fluke or error. In fact, you are far from alone with over 60% of workers in the UK having experienced it, according to this HR News study.

From an entrepreneurial standpoint, the number of startups continues to grow each year, with the number of private businesses increasing by 3.5% (200,000) in 2018-19, according to these FSB statistics. Given that they often begin with an individual or a partnership, that’s a lot of new businesses starting out with the same uncertainty and inexperience as yourself.

By accepting and taking solace in the fact that you are not alone going through this process, you can relieve some of the pressure your subconscious is putting on you.

You can learn from the mistakes of others to ensure your success by following our tips on how to avoid your business failing.

If you’d feel more comfortable in a structured programme, consider taking your idea to an incubator programme like our own. DCI provides you with support and structure on your entrepreneurial journey, giving you a safe environment to not only test your idea but also get invaluable resources like business mentors and financial grants.

Find out what other benefits are available as part of DCI here.

Adopt a different mindset

Carol Dweck is a phycologist and Stanford lecturer, and is known for her work on two mindsets.

To extremely simplify her work, she categorises people into two, with those with fixed mindsets believing that their skills are set and cannot be improved. Similarly to imposter syndrome, fixed mindset individuals doubt their capability, according to this article in Byrseed.

Whereas those with a growth mindset will see their abilities as a flexible journey through success and failure, making them more resilient to challenges.


Source: https://scottjeffrey.com/wp-content/uploads/two-mindsets-carol-dweck.png


Changing your mindset is no overnight fix, but by doing so you change the way you think into a positive. This article on changing from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset by ScottJeffrey.com advises the following steps:

  1. Spend time listening to your fixed mindset voice – the one that tells you things outside of your norm aren’t possible.
  2. Recognise that you have a choice – you do not have to live by the restrictions your inner voice tells you.
  3. Reply to the voice with a growth mindset approach – use positive affirmations, such as “I can do this”, to allow yourself to see and believe in the potential rather than restrictions.
  4. Act from a growth mindset – follow your own advice and act on your positivity.

De-personalise your business idea

In taking those first big steps into entrepreneurialism, it’s all too easy to struggle to think big.

You may have limited or no experience in establishing a business. And, while working on your own, may struggle to see how “little old you” can grow your idea into a success.

But by separating the ‘you’ from your business idea, you remove your own doubts on the potential of the business.

As a way around this, try mapping out the vision and business plan for your idea as if it would be done by someone else. Develop a plan for the first year, three years and five years, with ambitious numbers, to give the business an ambitious goal. Then add yourself back into the equation and follow through your plan for success, after following our earlier tips to beat your imposter thoughts.

Following these steps will help you overcome your imposter feelings, allowing you to think, plan and act big with your new business.

But, if you’d prefer to join a structured support program, where you’re guided through each step of the process by experienced professionals, or would like to learn more about how we can help, apply now or get in touch.

The next application deadline is Friday 6th May 2022

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