I’ve worked with hundreds of female entrepreneurs over my career as a business mentor, and I can honestly say, that for many, a lack of confidence was the reason behind them:
- Never getting started
- Never growing
- Making poor decisions
- Not asking for sales
- Turning down amazing opportunities
- Not asking for help that could have transformed their businesses
- Feeling completely overwhelmed because they were afraid to say ‘no’
- Not becoming visible…
I could go on and on here, but what I’m really saying is that their lack of confidence essentially stopped them from creating the financial and time freedom, the desire for which was, in most cases, the very reason they wanted to start a business in the first place.
But why was this lack of confidence so powerful?
That’s easy to answer. It was so powerful because the women tied their past and potential future failures and mistakes to their identity.
In their minds:
- Their projects didn’t fail, they were ‘a failure’
- They didn’t make mistakes, they were ‘stupid’
- They didn’t make poor decisions, they were ‘a walking disaster’
- They didn’t do something clumsy, they were a ‘laughing stock’
- They didn’t do something embarrassing, they were ‘an embarrassment’
- They didn’t let someone down, they were ‘a terrible person’.
Put all of that into the context of starting or growing a business, bearing in mind that around 70% of businesses fail in the first few years, is it any wonder then that so many women shy away from creating and growing businesses they dream of? We all want to know that we are capable, worthy, smart, and good people so the fear of being outed as not being these things is debilitating.
In your business now, this could be showing up for you in situations like these:
Scenario 1: You’ve had a call with a prospective client. You think it has gone well and that you’ve covered all your bases and did a great job. The prospective client says that they’ll call back and let you know if they’re buying in the next few days. They don’t call though, so you drop them an email and don’t get a response. You decide that you are terrible at selling and vow to never do another sales call ever again… even though your last 5 sales all came from calls.
Scenario 2: You create what you think is an epic piece of social media content. In fact, you’d go so far as to say, it’s the best piece you’ve created yet. A few hours have passed and nada… not a single person has liked, commented or shared it. You decide that your business idea sucks, you’re silly for even thinking that you could create great content and that no-one will ever buy from you. As a result, you stop creating content altogether, your visibility plummets and you make less and less sales.
What if it went more like this instead?
Scenario 1 – You continue to believe that you did a great job on the call and appreciate that not everyone is going to buy from you. You decide that you will review your sales call technique to see if there is anything that can be improved and move on to the next call, where you do make a sale. All is well and since you haven’t tied the lack of a sale to your identity, your business lives another day… yayy!
Scenario 2 – You decide that the content you created was epic but that maybe it just wasn’t what your ideal client wanted or needed to hear. You appreciate that there might be lots of reasons why the post didn’t do well. You make a decision to get some help in creating content, because, after all, marketing isn’t your area of expertise. The person you hire to help you is awesome and you begin to see great engagement on your social channels that translates into your best sales month yet.
When you separate the things that don’t go as planned from your identity, you can regain the power from you lack of confidence, meaning that, even though you know that things might go wrong, you still take action and it is that action that grows your business.
Here are 3 easy ways to separate your identity from the inevitable mishaps, mistakes, failures and losses that come with owning your own business:
1 – Question what’s really going on. NLP presupposes that ‘the map is not the territory’. Think of a map of the London underground. The map isn’t a map of London. A road map of London would look completely different, even though it’s the same place. Recognise that you are perceiving the situation through your own, perhaps self-judgemental eyes, and decide to see it through another lens instead. Use the question: ‘what else could be going on here?’ to help you.
2 – Identify the business situations where you’re most likely to bash yourself if they don’t work out. What are the sentences that start with the words: “I am” that you are most likely to say to yourself if those situations occurred? E.g. ‘I am so stupid’, ‘I am so bad at this’ or ‘I am useless’. Create new affirmations to say in advance of these situations e.g. when I first started my own coaching business, I had a post-it note on my lap top that said: ‘I am an experienced and highly qualified business professional and I know what I am talking about’. It tied my identity to something positive – my skills and experience – rather than to whether or not the client bought from me.
3 – Consider what the absolute worst thing that could happen if your biggest fear was realised e.g. your business would fail, people would laugh at you, you’d lose friends or you’d lose the money your parents lent you to start the business. If those things happened what would that mean about you? Then be honest and ask, is that true? Is it really true? How do you know it’s true? What do you choose to believe instead? Find proof of the new more empowering belief.
Mistakes, failures, poor decisions, crappy sales months (or even years), bad investments etc are an inevitable part of running a business. They happen to everyone but the ones that bounce back are those who realise that all of those things don’t define them as a person, and they don’t define you either.