Impostor syndrome describes the feeling that you’re somehow a fraud in your personal or professional life. People who suffer from this psychological pattern often believe that they just got where they are by luck, which invalidates or diminishes their achievements in their own minds.
New entrepreneurs, especially those who have limited experience in their industry, often succumb to impostor syndrome. They may feel like they don’t know what they’re doing and that their partners, clients or employees might find out and walk away.
If you’re struggling with impostor syndrome, 12 members of the Young Entrepreneur Council share some strategies here that may help you combat it.
12 Ways for New Entrepreneurs To Conquer Impostor Syndrome
- Talk to your peers.
- Allow yourself to fail.
- Fake it until you make it (the right way).
- Educate yourself.
- Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs.
- Use other people’s successes as inspiration.
- Keep track of your wins.
- Remember that you’re not alone.
- Realize you don’t have to be special to lead a business.
- Identify what makes you different.
- Separate feelings from facts.
- Talk to a mentor or people in your community.
1. Talk to Your Peers
Talk to your peers. You’ll quickly find out that they feel the same thing. Everyone is learning at a rapid pace, especially in frontier industries like technology and e-commerce that are rapidly changing. The more open you are, the more others are willing to help, and you’ll quickly find out that you know more than you think. —Michael Fellows, Patriot Crew
2. Allow Yourself to Fail
Although it’s much harder than it sounds, a great way to overcome impostor syndrome is to simply allow yourself to fail. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone except yourself. If you can take yourself out of that negative mindset and believe in the work you do, you’re already on your way to overcoming impostor syndrome and accomplishing your goals. —Jared Atchison, WPForms
3. Fake It Until You Make It (the Right Way)
You want to fake it the right way by correctly identifying something that makes you feel inadequate, such as being socially awkward. If I had waited until I felt 100 percent confident talking to investors or customers, I never would have the success I have now. In other words, act like the person you want to be and that can change how you think and feel. —Shu Saito, Fact Retriever
4. Educate Yourself
Confidence comes from competence, and the way to gain competence is through education. Earn credibility with yourself by mastering your skills so that, every time you do the work but feel unworthy of respect, you have something to lean on. Your professionalism will eventually break all those negative emotions. —Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
5. Surround Yourself With Other Entrepreneurs
Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs, both new and old. When I was first building my business, I was surprised to find that nearly all the founders in my peer-to-peer coaching group were grappling with some degree of impostor syndrome, no matter how long their business had been around. Take comfort in the shared experience of learning and growing and know that this feeling is normal. —Lindsay Tanne, LogicPrep
6. Use Other People’s Successes as Inspiration
Impostor syndrome is something we all struggle with on our entrepreneurial journey. This feeling often comes from comparing ourselves to other people who are much farther ahead in their journey than we are. Something that has helped me to combat impostor syndrome is choosing to see other people’s successes as evidence that success is available to me too. This outlook has helped me to keep comparison and impostor syndrome at bay. —Leanne Lopez Mosley, GROW Coaching Solutions
7. Keep Track of Your Wins
As a young female entrepreneur, I feel like impostor syndrome is a constant companion. To fight this feeling of unworthiness, I keep a list of wins in my phone, both professional and personal. Every time I feel self-doubt creeping in, I go back to the list. Reflecting on my accomplishments, big and small, helps me remember my strengths and capabilities and recharges me as I tackle bigger projects and problems. —Ashley Sharp, Dwell with Dignity
8. Remember That You’re Not Alone
Most people, especially business owners, experience impostor syndrome. When it hits, don’t let the negativity have a stronghold over you or deter you from completing your tasks and trekking on. Remember that most people, even the most successful ones, experience this phenomenon at some point in their lives. It’s natural and can happen to anyone, so don’t be so hard on yourself. —Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
9. Realize You Don’t Have to Be Special to Lead a Business
I think that impostor syndrome comes from believing that entrepreneurs are special people who are born with certain characteristics. Entrepreneurship has a mythological status, although that aura is unjustified. Business leaders are just ordinary people who are doing something different. When you realize that you don’t have to be special to lead, you can shake off the feeling that you’re fake. —Blair Williams, MemberPress
10. Identify What Makes You Different
Keep in mind that every entrepreneur started somewhere and that running a business isn’t about overnight success. Remember what makes you and your business different. This mindset is what will help new entrepreneurs overcome impostor syndrome. —Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
11. Separate Feelings From Facts
The best way to combat impostor syndrome is to separate feelings from facts. You may feel that your skills and capabilities are not as good as those of your teammates, but the reality can be much different. You may be brilliant at something without even realizing it. So, stop believing strongly about your incompetencies and start identifying your strengths to boost confidence. —Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
12. Talk to a Mentor or People in Your Community
Impostor syndrome is common when you’re doing something that you’ve always admired and that seems hard to achieve. What helps is to talk to a mentor or even share what you’re going through in a community. Other people can share their own experiences and guide you through this feeling. You’ll gain insights that will help you feel better sooner. —Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner