The Curse of Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is described as an inability to acknowledge an individual as being accomplished in their own right, it manifests as a constant fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’.

Imposter syndrome is a common phenomenon for business owners, especially within the first few years of trading.

A few ‘symptoms’ of imposter syndrome:

  • A fear of being ‘outed’ as a fraud for not being an expert in your own product or service
  • Afraid to speak at networking events in case others know more than you about your specialism
  • Find yourself using the words ‘only’ and ‘just’ to describe yourself or your expertise
  • Procrastinating when making contact with a potential client for fear that they will see through you
  • Failing to follow up with a recent contact as you don’t believe that you can help solve their problem, even though they’re keen to get to know more about what you offer and how you can help them
  • You feel as if you are the only one to feel this way

Many businesses fail to thrive because they don’t believe in themselves and therefore don’t believe they can help potential clients with their problems. Business owners are often guilty of using the words ‘only’ and ‘just’ to describe themselves and what they do-“I’ve ‘only’ been in business for a year” “I’ve ‘just’ set up my business”.

The issue with this is that you haven’t taken into account your experience in getting you to where you are now, did you start up your company without knowing what your product or service was? If you have spent time working in the field you have chosen why discount your experience? Here are a few tips to help you overcome your imposter syndrome:

  • Take into account your experience when talking to people. For example you could use “ I have x years experience within this field”.
  • Briefly talk about your journey to self employment “I chose to start my own company as I have x amount of years experience”. This is so important if others are to trust you enough to work with you. They want to ensure you have the necessary experience to help them.
  • Write down how much experience you have, why you chose to become self employed and why others should work with you.
  • Demonstrate that you believe in yourself and your company, use positive words to describe your experience.
  • People buy from people, let them get to know you however do not treat them as long lost friends and tell them all the gory details of your life!
  • Focus on how you can help them, not how they can help you.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to identify how we can help them during the brief time we are with them, ask them if they would be interested in a coffee to discuss how you can potentially work together.
  • Prepare a 10 second pitch, this will be easier to remember than the longer 60 second pitch, you can then ask them to tell you what they do and what they are looking for.
  • Enjoy the journey! Don’t waste your time and energy worrying about things that may never happen. You are where you are due to your expertise in your chosen field, you are what makes your company unique. That’s the greatest asset of all.