It takes a lot of grit to pursue your dreams and rebel against the status quo.
As entrepreneurs (or aspiring entrepreneurs), we know how important it is to be more confident when it comes to trying to reach our big goals in life.
But, sometimes it can be hard to cultivate or maintain that confidence.
Especially in the beginning when the fruits of your labor have not yet manifested, it seems like there's not enough hours in the day, and you’ve been facing rejection after rejection.
Confidence is a skill that can be learned, practiced and improved.
Here are 12 ways to be more confident with yourself as an entrepreneur:
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1. Define what you do (or what you want to do)
As an entrepreneur, it can be hard to answer the question, “What do you do?”
We tend to be humble and modest – qualities that cause us to not give ourselves credit where credit is due.
We’re hesitant to say, “I’m a writer” or “I’m an artist.” But, saying these things aloud can give you a surprising boost of confidence – try it next time someone asks you what you do!
I don’t believe you need to be published or spend a lot of time writing to call yourself a writer. Or that you need to have made money from your artwork to call yourself an artist.
But, if you’re not yet comfortable attaching these labels to yourself, you can still prepare your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a prepared response to, “What do you do?”
If you haven’t started your business yet, get clear on what you want to do.
Do you want to start a blog?
Open your own brick and mortar business?
Knowing your exact goals will help you to work towards them with confidence.
2. Expect success and you'll be more confident in yourself
Expecting success is a habit of highly successful people.
Psychology tells us that expectations, beliefs and perspectives can impact what actually occurs.
In various studies, participants who were given a placebo (sugar pill or procedure with no physiological effect) still showed signs of improvement – a phenomenon called the placebo effect.
They got better because they believed they would.
In the 1980’s, a prominent insurance company called MetLife was hiring 5,000 salespeople per year, employing only those who passed their sales aptitude test.
They were spending 75 million dollars a year on training only to have horrible turnover; half of their sales reps quit within the first year.
MetLife turned to renowned psychologist Martin Seligman for help.
Seligman posited that optimism breeds success and suggested that MetLife administer an optimism test he created in addition to the sales aptitude test already in place.
- Those who scored high on the optimism test and passed the aptitude test outperformed those who only scored high on the aptitude test (by 8% the first year and 31% the second year), whereas
- Participants who scored high on the optimism test and failed the aptitude test outperformed those who only scored high on the aptitude test (by 21% the first year and 57% the second year)
They performed better because they believed they would.
beliefs become your thoughts,
thoughts become your words,
words become your actions,
actions become your habits,
habits become your values,
values become your destiny.”
*For the whole story and other really great insights, read this book:
3. Start before you’re ready
Many established entrepreneurs give this sage advice.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll never feel “ready”. There will always be more lessons to learn, more things to improve upon and more reasons to delay.
With so much accessible information on the internet, you can easily overthink things and get stuck in analysis paralysis.
You've got to get over that hump to really skyrocket your productivity.
When I started my blog, I know I was overwhelmed when trying to find answers to, “How do I choose a niche?”, “What are keywords?”, “What tools should I use?”, etc.
Although diligent preparation can certainly help you to be more confident in yourself as an entrepreneur, at some point, you just have to begin.
Because the truth is if you’re waiting until you're ready to start, you’ll probably never do it.
Don’t use preparation as an excuse to procrastinate because you are scared to do something.
James Clear suggests we learn something from Richard Branson’s approach of: “Screw it, just get on and do it.”
Keep in mind that all you have to do is your best. You best will continue to change over time, with trial and error.
You are going to make mistakes, that is for sure. The faster you make mistakes and learn from them, the faster you will succeed.
Just use what you do know and apply it to what you don’t. Learn from your failures and apply that knowledge in the future. When you know better, you do better.
4. Embrace adversity and build confidence
Albert Einstein said, “Adversity introduces a man to himself”.
"Adversity introduces a man to himself." - Albert Einstein
When things are going well, it’s a lot easier to stay optimistic. The true test comes when things go wrong or don’t work out the way you expected.
Persevering through those tough times can be the difference between success and failure.
Renowned Harry Potter series author, J.K. Rowling, did not always have such a charmed life.
While writing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Rowling struggled to raise her daughter as a single mom on government-assistance.
Despite losing her mother to multiple sclerosis and her battle with depression, she managed to complete the book.
It was then rejected 12 times before being picked up by Bloomsbury Publishing.
Rowling credits “hitting rock bottom” as the foundation for her success. It helped her to gain the clarity and confidence she needed to chase her dreams … she had nothing to lose.
She is now a millionaire with international acclaim but imagine if she had given up after the first or second or 11th rejection.
Rowling could have let those “failures” chip away at her confidence and stop her from trying again.
Instead, she chose to use her experiences as fuel for success.
Adversity helps to show us that we are stronger and more capable than we think we are.
When you persevere through adversity, you can’t help but be more confident!
*Here are some more stories of how people managed to build confidence despite adversity.
5. Stop comparing yourself to others to be more confident
Nothing will tear down your confidence quicker than comparing yourself to someone else who you think is somehow better off than you are.
In today’s day and age with social media, it’s easy to get sucked into comparing your behind the scenes to other people’s highlight reels – not a fair comparison.
Everyone is meant to accomplish their own definition of success. We're all unique.
We all have different ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses, triumphs and defeats.
There are over 7 billion people in the world; there will always be someone better off and someone worse off than you.
If you look to others’ success as inspiration and motivation, then that’s great. But, if you get caught in a destructive cycle that leaves you feeling depressed and worthless, stop comparing!
We don’t have the full picture of what’s going on in other people’s lives.
People tend to present themselves (especially on social media) in the best light possible, downplaying or not even admitting any struggles, setbacks or failures.
Remember that the only fair comparison you can make is to compare who you are today to who you were yesterday.
Learn from your failures and celebrate your successes.
Focusing on your own journey will help you to be more confident in yourself as an entrepreneur and as a person.
6. Be Grateful
Being grateful for what you have allows you to appreciate others’ accomplishments without being envious.
If you get in the habit of appreciating what you have, you will shift your mindset from negative to positive.
You'll start to notice all the things you do have instead of all the things you don’t.
Your mental strength will increase, as you train your brain to focus on the good.
Not only will gratitude boost your confidence, but you will also reap additional benefits. Other studies have found that people who are grateful are:
There are many ways to express gratitude.
You can write down 10 things you are grateful for each morning or each night before bed (which, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, has the added benefit of helping you to sleep better).
You could also practice gratitude by meditating. Meditation does not necessarily require lots of time … you can just reflect upon things you are grateful for throughout the day.
Your confidence in yourself will soar as you begin to realize all the wonderful things you already have in your life.
7. Be kind
Kindness is the key to confidence.
Many people are just too hard on themselves. Cut yourself some slack, we’re all human!
Being kind to yourself makes you happier and more confident, which in turn affects others’ perception of you and the way they treat you – it encourages them to be kind to you as well.
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Think about what kind of person you want to be and then radiate that outward. If you want to be a kind and compassionate person, think about how you can display those qualities. Put kindness and compassion out into the world.
I once had a couple stop me while I was on a Sunday morning hike to give me a little bag containing a pamphlet titled, “You’re Special”, a $5 bill and a handwritten note saying, “Please accept this random act of kindness.”
That random act of kindness made my day. It also made me want to pass that kindness on and spread the joy – kindness is contagious.
We can all take advantage of the ripple effect of kindness. Whether it’s performing random acts of kindness, volunteering or just be kind to people, you’re helping to make the world a better place.
And you can’t help but feel confident about that!
8. Accomplish small goals to develop confidence
Accomplishing goals will help you to be more confident with yourself as an entrepreneur. It shows you that “you can do this”.
You don’t always have to set out to accomplish a big goal, in fact it’s better if you set small S.M.A.R.T. goals.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
You are more likely to achieve goals that meet these requirements. Try breaking down your big goals into small, actionable steps that require relatively less effort to accomplish.
For example, if you want to make a full-time living blogging, there are lots of little things you must do along the way. Like coming up with a name for your blog, registering your domain name and writing blog posts.
Don’t set the bar too high on your small S.M.A.R.T. goals. You want to make it easy for yourself to succeed.
Be sure to celebrate each small, easy win – the psychological reward you get from victory creates motivation and momentum. The more goals you accomplish, the more confidence you cultivate in yourself as an entrepreneur.
As you set and accomplish each small S.M.A.R.T. goal, not only are you building confidence, but you are also getting one step closer to crushing your big goal!
9. Learn to be more confident with yourself as an entrepreneur
Learning is one of the best and fastest ways to increase your confidence in yourself as an entrepreneur.
Everyone – from aspiring entrepreneurs to newbie entrepreneurs to six-figure entrepreneurs – has things to learn.
If you’re an online entrepreneur, you know what I’m talking about when I say it seems like there’s no end to the new technology, algorithms and trends to keep up with!
There is always a way to better yourself or better your business. So, learn some stuff and get motivated! We all feel more confident when we are informed and prepared (just be careful not to go overboard and get sucked into analysis paralysis).
You could, for example, learn more about SEO, sales funnels or email marketing. You could learn a language or a skill. You could read or travel. There are many ways to learn.
One thing I would suggest is limiting social media. You might be surprised how much you can learn from a good old-fashioned book, social interactions or just being present.
Not to mention that social media is a veritable hub of comparison and one-upsmanship. Technology-related stress can not only cause your confidence to plummet, but it also leads to other health problems when not adequately moderated such as:
So, consider doing a digital detox to improve your confidence and your health.
10. Fake it ‘till you make it
This saying is so well-known for a reason – it’s true!
Acting as if you are confident will eventually lead to actual confidence -- just like acting as if you are successful will eventually lead to success.
This belief is called the Law of Attraction (LOA). One of its basic tenets is that thoughts become things, meaning whatever you focus your attention will be realized.
Thoughts become things.
So, if you’re focusing on all the things you don’t like about yourself and all the things that can go wrong, then that is exactly what you will attract into your life and those issues will continue to magnify.
However, if you focus on your unique strengths and all the things that can go right, then that is exactly what you will magnify and draw into your life.
Try acting as if you are confident. How would you carry yourself? In what way would you speak to people? What new things would you try?
By enacting these things, you are changing the energy you’re putting out and therefore the energy that is flowing back to you.
The LOA is supported by the quantum physics theory that holds: We co-create our own reality with our thoughts and feelings.
By thinking and feeling more confident with yourself as an entrepreneur, you can actually become more confident with yourself as an entrepreneur.
German physicist Werner Karl Heisenberg realized that it was impossible to measure both the velocity and location of an electron at the same time because electrons behave differently when observed.
“What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” -Werner Karl Heisenberg
Meaning, we don’t merely observe things. We participate in their creation.
I won’t cover this complex topic in this article, but you can research more about quantum physics and the law of attraction by looking into the “double-split experiment”, “string theory” and the “uncertainty principal”. Here’s a good article & video.
11. Take good care of yourself
Self-care is directly tied to having more confidence with yourself as an entrepreneur and as a person in general.
When you take good care of yourself, you naturally feel more comfortable presenting yourself to the world. Confidence is definitely not all about looks, but I do believe that when you look good, you feel good.
A healthy diet, exercise, drinking enough water and getting enough sleep are essential to looking and feeling good.
Spinach, oranges, dark chocolate are examples of how foods are natural mood-boosters. Eating these foods on a daily basis can have a huge impact on your mood and your physical appearance.
Exercise is another mood and self-esteem booster. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins reduce feelings of stress and increase feelings of euphoria.
By becoming stronger, faster or better at something, we increase our self-esteem because we see ourselves as more capable.
Regular exercise has not only the short-term benefits of improved mood and increased energy, it also has long-term benefits of improved self-image and increased confidence.
The importance of drinking enough water and getting enough sleep cannot be overstated. These things will help maximize your physical performance, enhance your brain function and help you to be the best version of yourself.
Entrepreneurs tend to get wrapped up in business tasks and see self-care as a sort of luxury. It’s not. You’ve got to take care of yourself in order to be able to do all the things!
Don’t ever be too busy that you neglect the most important part of your business – you.
12. Stay committed
Finally, stay committed to the process.
Confidence is a skill that must be practiced and reinforced. Just keep working on your mindset and behavior.
*Bonus material: In this inspiring talk by Les Brown, he gives us actionable advice on how to be successful. He encourages things like: stepping into your fears, developing a sense of urgency, ignoring your critics, surrounding yourself with positive people and separating what you do from who you are. When you get a chance, give it a listen!
Because entrepreneurs tend to be high achievers, they often suffer from imposter syndrome, So, there may come a point, after you've accomplished certain goals, when you doubt the reasons for your success.
If this happens, remember how hard you worked to get where you’re at, focus on all your accomplishments and use your fear as fuel for success.
Remember that you are not alone. All successful people have had many struggles and failures along the way. That’s just the how the road to success is.
The important thing is that you don’t get deterred from your path. Even though it’s hard, even though you might struggle to feel confident, even though you might fail. Just keep on going.
Over to you – anything I didn’t mention?
Please share your tips on how to be more confident with yourself as an entrepreneur in the comments!
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