Five actions to overcome imposter syndrome and get your business off the ground

Ready to start a business? Find to why the hardest part is not what you think! And read five tips to help you overcome imposter syndrome and get started. 

Coming up with business ideas is easy. Finding the strength, stamina and commitment to follow through is the hard part. And believing in yourself is the hardest of all.

Many mums I work with have great ideas and are passionate about them. And the majority of them had some type of professional role before they became parents – lawyers, bankers, advertisers, project managers, buyers, analysts, copywriters, designers, the list goes on…

They were really good at their jobs before and most likely will be incredible business owners, but their first step is to overcome the biggest barrier – imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is the fear of being a fraud and worrying about being found out to not be good enough. It’s is a real issue amongst founders and we’ve probably all had it at some stage. The real question is ‘how do I overcome it?’.

Five actions to help you overcome imposter syndrome

I find the quickest and easiest way to overcome imposter syndrome is by taking these five actions.

1) Get your pitch right

If you can talk about your business idea with confidence and have a ready answer to the dreaded question “what do you do?” then your confidence will grow and before you know it, you’ll start to believe you really can do this.

I highly recommend using the Madlibs approach to pitching your idea (from the Founder Institute Accelerator). You’ll be telling hundreds, possibly thousands of people about your idea over the next few months, so you may as well get it right!

My company _____(name of company)_________ is developing _______(defined offering)___________ to help _____________(a defined audience)___________ _______________(solve a problem)________________ with _______________(your secret sauce)__________________.

Mix it up a bit and make it your own. For example:

My company Super Startups is developing online training courses to help early stage entrepreneurs to build digital produts that reach many people, using Lean Startup techniques.

2) Don’t try to create your whole vision at once

It can feel very overwhelming to do everything that’s in your head at once. By breaking your big idea down into the core requirements needed to deliver value to your customers, it makes it all that much more believable and you’ll make progress faster this way too.

Plan and create your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) first and you will get comfortable with the idea that you can do this!

What are the core functions that your product has to deliver to be useful and add value to your customers’ life? Does your product need a secure sign-on process in order to help your customer? Probably not. What is the key problem that your product solves? Build that first.

3) Be visible everywhere!

By everywhere, I mean update your social media profiles – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook etc. I honestly delayed this step for quite some time as I was coming to terms with being a startup founder rather than a business analyst (as I was in my former life).

I felt that by updating my profiles I may be missing out on opportunities, but in fact I was losing out by not updating it. People who I could learn from in my new role weren’t contacting me and I was connecting with the wrong people for over a year!

Decide that you want to become this, envision yourself being this successful person in a year’s time and then commit.

4) Don’t worry about being the guru – just contribute to the conversation

Imposter syndrome usually comes from people underestimating how good they really are and from people believing that they have to know everything from day one.

That’s not true at all. Just being a part of the conversation and contributing to whatever area you’re getting into is enough. Learning on the job is perfectly ok. And showing your vulnerabilities is fine too.

Customers are often attracted to brands that are personable and show there’s a real human being behind them. The perfect brand can often feel cold and unhuman but taking your customers on your journey is both humbling and helpful to those trying to get to where you are.

5) Focus on proving value to your customers

As long as you are being genuine and really helping people improve their lives in some way, then you’re adding value – and that’s more than enough.

Adding value means that you are doing the right thing, you should be here and people will challenge you less than you think. So many wonderful ideas and great businesses don’t see the light of day because of imposter syndrome. Give yourself a break and give yourself a chance to prove the world wrong!

Nicole Velho is founder of Super Startups. She helps entrepreneurs build digital products one step at a time. Download your 6 elements of a Successful Digital Startup here.

Photo by Eric Nopanen