One of the cornerstones of how to be a good business owner is self-confidence, but many of us aren’t blessed with very much. If you’re on the hunt for self-improvement tips that will turn you from shy to successful, this article contains five simple, yet incredibly effective, pointers to help you get there.
Boosting your self-confidence can be hard if you’re naturally shy, or if you feel you don’t deserve the success you’ve worked tirelessly to achieve. If you really want to be a great business owner, confidence is one of the vital soft skills that you’ll need to master. As novelist Michael Korda said, “If you don’t believe in yourself, then who will believe in you?”
You might think that you’re always going to struggle with your confidence, but it is possible to quieten the nagging voice of self-doubt. Not sure where to start? Here are five of the best tips for boosting your self-confidence, from tiny shifts to daunting, but worthwhile, ways to banish self-doubt and shyness for good.
1. Get to the root of your problem
Self-doubt doesn’t just spring up like an unwelcome weed – there will always be a reason why your confidence as a business owner is lacking. If you want to get rid of it for good, you’ve got to be honest with yourself and work out where your insecurities have come from. Do you feel like you’re out of your depth, and don’t know enough about how to be a business owner? Have you entered a new sector that you don’t know much about? Or have you always struggled with confidence, even outside of your career?
It can also be helpful to speak to family and friends and work through your lack of confidence together. The people closest to you have probably picked up on the things you worry about, even if you had no idea they’ve been bothering you so much. Try not to get offended by their answers – if you’re truly going to become a confident business owner, you’ll need to develop a thick skin for criticism and harshly worded advice and use it to improve yourself.
If you don’t believe in yourself, then who will believe in you? - Michael Korda
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2. Take practical steps to address insecurities
Once you’ve identified what’s causing your self-confidence crisis, do something practical about it. If you need guidance on business ownership in general, that’s exactly what your franchisor, head office support team and franchisee network are for. Asking for advice or admitting your insecurities doesn’t make you weak. In fact, it shows you’re self-aware and truly committed to making your business the best it can be by working on yourself.
Business ownership isn’t always intuitive, and many people don’t study business during their education, so you should never feel bad if there are gaps in your knowledge as an entrepreneur. If your franchisor can’t help, or you’ve set up an independent business, there are countless professional education courses, networking forums and business coaches out there that can help you improve your self-confidence.
If your lack of self-confidence stems from personal worries, rather than career ones, finally tackling it could help you reach your full career potential. Many people who struggle with anxiety, depression or other mental health problems have low self-worth, which makes it hard for them to ooze confidence.
For some, positive mantras, meditation and exercise can be enough to lift their mood and help them feel more confident. You might find that an inspirational TED talk, or an interview where someone you professionally admire talks about their own confidence struggles can give you a boost (though try this with caution if you’re prone to #4).
Don’t feel ashamed if you need to take a medical approach. Tackling your low confidence once and for all through methods like talking therapy can totally reframe your mindset and help you recognise that you’re worthy of believing in yourself. It can be a costly and mentally exhausting investment, but it could be the key to your self-confidence transformation.
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3. Stop comparing yourself to others
One of the easiest ways to give your confidence a knock is by comparing yourself to others. It’s tempting to look at business titans to spur us on – some of us find their success inspiring, as it shows there’s no limit to what we can achieve.
But for many people, comparing our modest wins as business owners to profits in the tens of millions will just make us feel deflated. You might also feel disheartened even if you’re comparing yourself to local business moguls, who seem to dedicate all their time to their company or franchise and are reaping some serious rewards.
The full version of the Korda quote says:
The next man's way of getting there might not necessarily work for me, so I have to create my own ways of getting there.
There’s no one ‘right’ route to business ownership, so don’t beat yourself up if you’ve not made £1 million by the age of 25 or if you cannot devote yourself 24/7 to your business. Franchising in particular is ideal for anyone, regardless of how old you are, how much experience you have or how many other commitments you have to juggle.
You should be proud that you took the leap and became your own boss, no matter how modest your business is. Working for yourself is something that so many people dream about but never manage to make into a reality, so celebrate how far you’ve come, rather than beating yourself up that you haven’t reached an arbitrary target.
Regardless of whether you’ve felt terrified and full of self-doubt during every step of your business journey, you’re doing it. You overcome fears and insecurities every day just by continuing to operate, whether you know it or not. Try to stay focused on the business goals you set based on your dreams, rather than wasting time trying to be like everyone else.
4. Find a network of people you can relate to
It’s also easy to get lost in unhelpful advice if you don’t have the right people in your business network. Try and surround yourself with people that inspire you to achieve more, but in a way that’s realistic for you. If you’re a single parent running a home-based franchise with no previous business experience, well-meaning advice from someone who has no kids (or full-time childcare) and a strong background in business might not be very helpful.
Instead, find local groups of similar people to connect with. LinkedIn can be a great place to network, but it’s better suited to people running B2B franchises and businesses. Check out social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram too, where you’re likely to find a community for you. There are groups for everyone from single mums to older first-time business owners to young entrepreneurs. You’ll even find specific forums and groups for people from the same location, religion and even ethnicity if it’s important to discuss cultural dilemmas with people that truly understand.
Apps like Meetup are also invaluable if you want to find a business community in your local area. And remember, if you’re part of a franchise, you’ll have a ready-made network to speak to that understand what you’re going through. Make sure you reach out if you’re having a crisis of confidence and let like-minded people lift you up.
5. Work with a mentor
If there isn’t a specific issue that’s causing your lack of confidence, finding a mentor or investing in some business coaching could be the key. Some people find it best to chat through ideas before putting them into action. If that sounds like you, your lack of an experienced and trusted sounding board could be making you doubt yourself. Experienced business leaders across the world regularly get involved with mentorship schemes and your franchisor may be happy to take on a mentor role.
Even if they’re not able to, someone in your professional network might be willing to step up as a mentor or business coach. Don’t just approach strangers, though – even if you’re gushing with praise on your first interaction, it can feel rude and probably won’t succeed. Make sure you’ve forged a meaningful connection with someone before asking them to take on a mentoring role. Also, be wary of anyone that approaches you to be your mentor. Check out their business credentials and make sure they’re a reliable person to take advice from.
Once you’ve found your mentor, organise weekly or monthly calls/meetings so you get the chance to talk your worries through on a regular basis. In no time at all, you’ll be feeling more confident in yourself as a business owner.
Fake it until you make it
You’re not alone if you struggle with your confidence and we hope that the tips above will help you transform yourself into an assertive and successful business owner. Remember, everyone has confidence blips sometimes, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re doubting yourself ahead of a big meeting, conference or new challenge. If you’re ready to start your own franchise and stop doubting yourself, check out our UK franchise directory.
Sophie Cole, Point Franchise ©