Managing Imposter Syndrome: Strategies and Support for Business Owners

January 17, 2024

By Kyle Dickinson, Entrepreneur Fund Business Developer

“Welcome to the club!” That’s often the joking reply you’d get when mentioning imposter syndrome among local business owners. It’s a common, yet rarely discussed, challenge faced by entrepreneurs. This article will help you navigate and manage this complex space of feeling like “a fraud.”

Understanding Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is when your perceived incompetence overshadows your actual abilities. As a business owner, particularly in the early stages, you’re navigating uncharted waters filled with high expectations and uncertainties. It’s here that imposter thoughts find fertile ground. You might doubt your decisions, feel undeserving of your success, or attribute it to external factors. Adam Grant, a renowned psychologist, describes this as a persistent struggle with internalizing success. This syndrome is more than just self-doubt; it’s about consistently undermining your achievements and fearing being exposed as incompetent.

In the unpredictable world of businesses ownership, these feelings are commonplace and sometimes intensified by the novelty and isolation of entrepreneurship. When you achieve a milestone, instead of pride, you might question, “Do I really belong here?” or think, “They must have made a mistake.” Recognizing this syndrome as a psychological pattern, often linked to perfectionism and influenced by external factors, is crucial in shifting from self-doubt to self-empowerment.

Five Strategies to Help Manage Imposter Syndrome

1. Reframe Your Thoughts

Acknowledge your feelings, then challenge them. Consider the hard work, skill, and perseverance that brought you here, rather than attributing your success to luck.

  • EFund Tip: Your advisor can provide forward perspective to help break through the emotional barriers of imposter syndrome. They can do this by using measurable data that shows your business trajectory, thus reassuring you of your growth and proving that you are capable and deserving of your success.

2. Celebrate Small Wins

Recognize and celebrate your business’s achievements. This builds a positive feedback loop in your mind.

  • EFund Tip: Let your advisor know about your wins. We want to celebrate with you! Did you hit a sales goal or hire an employee? Maybe you received positive media coverage or landed a new client. No win is too small to celebrate.

3. Build a Support Network

Engage with other entrepreneurs. You’ll find many business owners share your experiences, which is both reassuring and enlightening.

  • EFund Tip: We offer many events and programs, such as Be Strategic, Profit Mastery, and Women’s Business Masterminds, throughout the year to connect business owners with one another. Additionally, your advisor can connect you with fellow clients that may have shared experiences.

4. Seek Constructive Feedback

Regular, realistic feedback helps ground your self-assessment, providing a more accurate perspective of your performance.

  • EFund Tip: Regularly check in with your advisor, especially if your business is about to experience a significant change. For example, adding another location, hiring additional staff, firing a problematic employee, or expanding your product line. Your advisor can provide constructive, realistic feedback backed by your businesses’ numbers.

5. Educate Yourself Continuously

Knowledge is power. The more you know about your field, the more confident you will feel in your business decisions. Here’s some recommended continued learning:

Support is just a conversation away

Navigating through entrepreneurship, feeling like an imposter is more common than you might think. Remember, it’s not about eradicating these feelings but learning to manage them. If you find yourself needing guidance, your Entrepreneur Fund advisor is just a conversation away. They can help you figure out which of these strategies will work the best and help you get them implemented. Reach out for personalized strategies and support to confidently embrace and own your success. You’ve earned it!

About the Author

Kyle Dickinson has been a business developer at the Entrepreneur Fund in the Twin Ports area since 2021. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and a Master of Business Administration. Kyle has over a decade of experience in investment management running complex price forecasting and modeling.