Many of us, founders and entrepreneurs, will feel like a fraud at some point. We tell our loved ones we’re working, we manage a small team, or maybe a big team of people, we invest time and money into our companies. We work from home, café’s and sometimes lack the office space that makes us feel “normal”.
We tell ourselves and the world at large that “my product is doing A,B,C,D,E” and that it can save the world to self-assured destruction or what have you. But the real question is, can it? Do we tell that to ourselves, our investors and pretty much everyone else involved because we feel that what we’re doing is a big joke, and we’re pulling a fast one over the community, our friends and family, the world? Do I even deserve the title of Director or CEO? After all, aren’t those names reserved for magnates of the industry?
The bad thing is, that as long as you’re an entrepreneur, these feelings won’t go away, the good news is, that they’re totally normal and many entrepreneurs have them. Turns out there’s a name for this feeling, it’s called “Impostor Syndrome” – and something to the effect of 40% of successful people have it, including doctors, graduate students, and the like.
If you have any of these feelings, it turns out you may, in fact, be an “Impostor Syndrome” sufferer, but don’t stress too much, it’s not a real recognized disorder.
- Dismissal of compliments and praise
- Mild constructive criticisms can become crippling.
- Doubt in your talents, abilities, and intelligence.
- 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.
etc… etc… however, this self-doubt is in all actuality what keeps you going. The time spent reading about your industry, the time spends perfecting, honing your skills, reading up on current trends and “keeping up with the Joneses” are all positive activities that in fact make you more competitive and help you fight adversity. Each one of those doubts that you have regarding yourself pushes you closer to success.
But where do these feelings stem from? Even in societies that embrace risk such as the U.S., the majority of people will still be those that work for someone else, that have the 9-5 job, and bring home a monthly / weekly income. Companies are on the other hand are seen as large brands whose operations affect the lives of others in any manner of ways – not as a few people managing a few more people who make things. All the same, there is societal pressure to conform to those ideals and to become part of a larger more normal society. The thing is, that your average Joe doesn’t understand why you’ve decided to take a risk and start something totally new, most average Joe’s are satisfied with the status quo. We as entreprenerus are not.
So what does this all mean? Simply put two things, 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.
Though swords often have two edges, and there exists a very real possibility that your doubt can 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 do it, don’t give up, do it, work harder at it. If you believe that your products are lacking in quality and that being the reason no one is buying them, look at your products, it may not be their quality, it may be your marketing strategy, distribution, communication strategy instead. In the end, you have to analyze your doubt, and see how it can be channeled positively into making your business grow and succeed.