Every entrepreneur, or at least most of us will feel like a fraud at one point. We tell our friends and family we're working. We invest money and time into things that may or may not work. We work from home, café's and sometimes lack the office space that makes us feel "normal". We tell ourselves that and the rest of the world that we wholeheartedly believe in a mission. That our product is unique, that our product is solving problem x, and that we have the power to disrupt an industry of some sort.
But the real question is, can we? Do we tell that to ourselves, our investors, and pretty much everyone else but somewhere deep down inside we feel we’re not good enough, not smart enough, and maybe no one gives a shit? Do we even deserve the fluffy startup titles we give ourselves, CEO, CTO, CMO? After all aren't those names reserved for magnates of industry?
Well, the thing is, as long as you’re a good entrepreneur then you’re going to have self doubt. It’s totally normal for you to feel this way. You may hide it from your team or others, but at the bottom of it all, it is a driving force that propels you and your company forward. This feeling is called "Impostor Syndrome" - and something to the effect of 40% of successful people have it, including doctors, graduate students, and the like.
So let me ask you this, do any of the following resonate with you?
- You dismiss compliments and praise
- Mild constructive criticisms can become crippling.
- You doubt your talents, abilities, and intelligence.
- You buy into the belief that you're wasting your time.
- Successful people are those with a job, a steady income and a mortgage.
- Taking credit for your accomplishments is difficult.
Well, if you have any of these feelings, turns out you may in fact suffer from "Impostor Syndrome,” --but worry not, it's totally normal. It can even work to your advantage.
Self doubt is likely what keeps you going. The time spent reading about your industry, the time spent perfecting, honing your skills, reading up on current trends are all productive activities that make you more adept at making smart, informed decisions. Each one of those doubts can push you closer to success.
But where do these feelings stem from? Even in societies that embrace risk, the majority of adults will work for someone else, will have a 9-5 job, and bring home a paycheck. And even though entrepreneurship is embraced all the same, there is still societal pressure to conform to the larger, more “normal” society.
The thing is, is that your average Joe doesn't quite get why you’ve decided to ditch it all on a hyper-risky concept with a high probability of failure. Doing what we do as entrepreneurs is something we need to do, it’s integral to us. For Joe, it isn't. And as an entrepreneur you must always remember that.
- Take your self doubt and make it into a positive force in your life and business.
- Learn more, read more, always challenge yourself, put that doubt to work for you.
- Take criticism lightly, and constructively, one of the best things you can do is have others tell you where things are lacking, they often see what you do not.
If you don't believe in the benefits of your company's products, talk to your customers, not only are they the best people to make your product better, but they will appreciate the service that you offer and that you care about them. This builds loyalty, and potentially word of mouth.
While your doubt may be based in reality, and your company simply may not be good enough in XYZ, doubt in and of itself can also have a negative effect on your life and your business.
If you see that doubt is affecting your work and you believe that you can’t go on any longer, don't give up. Keep going. Know that it happens to a lot of us.
If you believe that your products are lacking in quality and that is the reason no one is buying them, then look at your products, take a step away. Ask for advice from an unbiased party. It may not be your products, it may be your marketing strategy, distribution, or communication strategy instead. In the end, it’s most important to analyze your doubt and see how it can be channeled positively into making you and your business grow and succeed.