The other women seem so confident. “If only I could feel like that, I would be able to start my own business,” you think.
The kicker is that:
A) It’s unlikely they started off confident. The successful female entrepreneurs went through weeks, months and years of worry, doubt, and failures to get where they are now.
Unfortunately, you don’t see that in their shiny website and beautiful Instagram posts.
B) You can’t just get confidence and then start your business. Confidence will come while you build it.
I know exactly how you feel.
IWMLBproject launched 6 months ago after I had quit my corporate job.
I was so unconfident about what I was doing, I almost didn’t start.
Even though I had worked my way up the corporate ladder to a senior management position, I couldn’t translate that into believing I was a smart, productive, resourceful woman who could start her own business.
I read as many articles I could find by successful businesswomen, trying to figure out how they started.
What gave them the push to start? Did they feel confident starting out? Did they make mistakes? What was the first step?
I was just so in awe of women who had done it but couldn’t seem to see myself in them.
Slowly, I built enough confidence to start and that was the best thing I could have done. Just start.
Here are my 10 tips to help you build enough confidence to start your own business.
Just remember it is a process!
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Don’t try and build Rome in a day. If you set yourself goals that are too big or too far in the future, you will get too overwhelmed.
Any huge business you can think of started off much smaller. For example, Facebook was originally created for Harvard students only.
Would Mark Zuckerberg have started it if he knew it would result in a massive lawsuit and change the face of social media as we know it? Maybe, maybe not.
Start by defining your priorities and then breaking them down into 3-month goals.
From creating your 3 month goal, you can break this down into monthly, weekly and even daily goals.
Focusing on one small thing at a time will help you build momentum without it feeling too big or scary!
The worst thing you can do when starting out is to look at other hugely successful people who have done what you want to do.
This will give you a huge case of ‘comparison-itis’ and won’t do anything to help you with the confidence to start your business!
It’s very easy to forget that anyone who makes squillions now, started off making nothing.
If you want to give yourself a reality check, use the WayBack Machine. You can type in any website URL and see how it looked one year, two years, whenever ago.
Let’s use an example. I want IWMLBproject to be an invaluable resource for women wanting to start businesses. The Female Entrepreneur Association founded by Carrie Green is HUGE.
Let’s compare her site now, to 2011.
In 2011, it looked like this.
Now it looks like this!
As you can see, slick beautiful websites, did not start off looking like that!
Following on from the above point, it’s so good to find like-minded women you can have realistic chats with about starting your own business.
Facebook groups can be hit and miss, some are just spammy sites where people are trying to sell you stuff, but some are really genuine like Noi Club which I belong to.
Choose one or two decent groups and start connecting with people on there.
Or you could go to networking events but just make sure they aren’t a badly disguised sales pitch for something.
If you are unsure about your business idea. Why not talk to someone who is already doing what you want to do.
There are a lot of very helpful people out there who would be happy to talk to you about the realities of running the business.
You can find them in Facebook groups or you could just send them an email asking for some advice.
Not everyone will answer, but someone might.
An alternative is to interview people in your niche for a podcast or written interviews. This is exactly what I am doing for IWMLB Project.
You can read the interviews by going to the All Posts page and scrolling down to the Business section.
If you can afford it, seeing a counsellor or therapist can be a great way to get to the root of your lack of confidence.
There’s no shame in it and it can make a huge difference in uncovering the ‘stories’ you tell yourself which are holding you back.
The other alternative is to find a coach but do your due-diligence. Coaching is an unregulated industry so anyone can call themselves a coach.
“This walking malarky is too hard. I keep falling over and I don’t walk as well as the grown-ups. I’m just going to give up and sit on my bottom for the rest of my life”. Said no baby ever.
The hardest thing about starting a business is often the fear of failing. The irony is that you will only succeed if you fail a few times as that is the best way to learn.
We’ve been learning that way our whole lives so why would that be any different now?
Failure isn’t not being able to do something. It’s attempting something, learning from it and then improving.
Often we lack the confidence to start a business as we feel it is too ‘risky’.
But what is the real risk?
If you are ploughing your life savings into it, then yes, it is a big risk.
If however, you are investing a small amount of money to get it started, what would you rather?
It is a good exercise to write down all of the reasons why starting a business is a risk, and then going through each one and thinking about the worst case scenario.
Is it really that bad? Is the worst cast scenario something you would never recover from?
If it isn’t, then what have you got to lose?
I had a horrible experience about 6 years ago at a previous company (I was given too much responsibility and drowned under the weight of it) and totally lost my confidence in managing people.
I decided to prove to myself that I was a good manager so I signed up from a 3 month voluntary project in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
My role was logistics manager in charge of a small team. Our remit was to make sure all the voluntary groups had food at the correct locations, make sure the 4×4 vehicles were properly maintained and run medical pickups when someone in the volunteer groups was sick or injured.
It was HARD. But I did it. I came out the other side so much more confident in my abilities.
You don’t have to do something as drastic as I did, you can always start smaller.
Talk to a random stranger, go to a networking event, email someone you admire.
Doesn’t matter what it is or how small, it’s just about building your self-confidence.
This is exactly what Vix Anderton, founder of the Practical Balance did for her coaching business.
Vix posted in a Facebook group offering free coaching. She was very upfront about the fact that she had no coaching certifications and was just starting out.
Again you could use Facebook groups in your niche to find your potential customer. Let’s say you wanted to start a business creating quirky wedding invitations.
You could find FB groups for brides or weddings and then offer the first 5 people free wedding invites in exchange for feedback and testimonials.
Your product or service needs to solve a problem for someone.
Alan from Pop Up Business School did an exercise on a Pop-Up workshop that I attended. He pulled me up in front of the audience and asked me to sell him a pen.
I started off by trying to list all the features of the pen. “It’s silver, the ink never runs out, it’s streamlined”. Each feature I listed was met with a shake of the head and him saying ‘I already have a pen that I like’.
In desperation, I switched tactic. “Tell me what you don’t like about your own pen”. Alan stopped the exercise and said that this was exactly where I should be going with the conversation.
You need to understand your customer’s problem and sell them the solution.
Therefore, if you are talking to someone who isn’t your ideal customer, your product will never be a solution for them so they won’t understand why they would buy it.
Let’s take the wedding invites idea. If you start talking to a 50-year-old married man about your idea for a new revolutionary type of wedding invite, his eyes are going to glaze over.
Talk to a newly engaged person who doesn’t want a traditional wedding and you will probably get a lot more enthusiasm!
Haven’t heard this term before? Here is the definition from the Urban Dictionary……
Sometimes the best way to build confidence is just to get going on it. Keep DOING and you will build confidence as you go.
This is hard to get your head around as you think you need to have the confidence before you start.
You need to make the decision to go for it, no matter what.
Trust yourself that you that will be able to work through any obstacle because you are a smart, resourceful woman and you will figure it out!
Other posts to help you!