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How to Stop Feeling Like an Imposter

Aug 17, 2007
I recently read an article in the September 2006 issue of Inc. Magazine titled, "The Imposter Syndrome: Why Do So Many Successful Entrepreneurs Feel Like Fakes?" Here are some surprising statistics from that article:

1. 2 out of 5 successful people consider themselves frauds

2. 70% of all people feel like fakes at one time or another

3. Self-doubters in the corporate world often turn down promotions or switch jobs to avoid "exposure"

Does any of this sound painfully familiar?

In the world of entrepreneurs and small business owners, the imposter syndrome, otherwise known as the "fraud factor" runs rampant. Go to any networking event and you can spot the likely candidates, shyly hiding in corners or clinging to the buffet table. Of course, at the opposite end of the extreme are the individuals who bulldoze you, speaking non-stop in a desperate attempt to "pull the wool over your eyes" and keep their insecurity well hidden.

If you are a new business owner or have recently changed your niche, time and experience might be all you need to build up your confidence.

But if you seemingly have everything going for you (success in terms of sales, prestige, and profit) and you still have that nagging feeling that someone might "expose" you at any time, sending your business and reputation crashing down, you probably struggle with the notion that you are not "enough".

It's kind of like the glass-half-empty mindset.

By the very nature of running your own business, you can always do more...make one more sales call, create or improve a system, follow-up with yet another client. From that point of view, the glass will never be full and the "machine" that is your business will become insatiable.

But understand that you create the standards for your business either by design or default.

If you feel like an imposter, do something about it. Here are three ways to get you started:

"3 Ways to Eliminate the Imposter Syndrome"

1. LEARN MORE: If you are new to business or your industry, the simple truth might be that you lack the knowledge you need to help you feel like a bona fide contender. Consider attending seminars and workshops, going for another credential, or simply reading all you can to stay informed about business and your industry as well as committing to a life of on-going education.

2. DO MORE: Get out there and get more experience! Position yourself as a leader in your field by being more visible in your industry or community. Volunteer for association committees, form strategic alliances with colleagues who might lack some of the skills and strengths that you contribute, or write and publish articles via print media, web sites, or blogs that give potential clients a sample of what you have to offer and how you can help.

3. BE MORE: Understand and acknowledge specifically what you bring to the table right now. What do you have to offer? What are your strengths? Why are you in this business in the first place? Whom do you help? Why do you want to help them? Who have you helped in the past? Why are you the right person to help or provide a product or service to your client? What evidence do you have to support your answer? Knowing the answers to these questions is a good place to start. Finally, focus on who you already are instead of who you aren't and what you lack.
About the Author
(c) 2006 Kim Nishida, Small Business Success Coach and founder of Ready to Evolve Coaching, helps you get focused, get organized, and get going! Subscribe to the "Success Hot Sheet" our free newsletter and receive a free Success Kit at http://www.readytoevolve.com
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