Any business owner can suffer from a crisis of confidence at times. Often, confidence will skyrocket after a big win, but it doesn’t always remain, especially in the face of criticism. And we all have that little voice in our heads that tells us from time to time that we just aren’t good enough.
A lack of confidence is a problem, because it can paralyse us when it comes to making decisions and acting on them. When this happens, we end up accumulating a frighteningly long list of both big and small things we ought to have done and haven’t been able to accomplish.
Here are six ways to become more confident, and stop adding to your ‘to do’ list before it’s too late to do anything.
1. Reconnect with your original purpose
Often we lack confidence because of internal factors, our upbringing can cause low self-esteem for example. Other times what seems to be a problem with ourselves is actually an external issue. If you lose faith in what you are doing, this can manifest as a lack of confidence and inertia. Take some time out to look at your business objectively. Try to see it from other people’s perspective, including your customers – is it what you thought it would be? If it isn’t, perhaps you need to reassess what you are trying to do with the business.
2. Change the way you think about yourself
It is paradoxical, but when we are feeling less confident we tend to see perfection and accomplishment in everyone else. The result is we withdraw further. Instead, remember that other people are probably looking at you and thinking, “I wish I was as confident as they are!” Take a deep breath, and imagine you can do anything.
3. The danger of going it alone
Another wise quote for small business owners could be “No man is an island.” We all tend to retreat from social interaction when we are feeling unconfident, but try to avoid this. Get out there and attend that local business network meeting, and visit other people in your network who can help you. If you need to, consult a business coach and explain how you are feeling.
4. Make an easy start on the to-do list
Let’s look at that list of things that might not get done because of your confidence issues. Maybe you are just not sure if you need to rebuild your website to make it more mobile friendly. Perhaps you need to renegotiate terms with a supplier and you’ve been procrastinating because you’re not sure how.
Your communications systems might need an overhaul, but you don’t know what your options are and what will work best.
To snap out of the paralysis, try tackling the smallest task on the list – you might even be able to eradicate the problem completely. For example, with the communication issue, a fax machine can be replaced by online faxing via your email browser. Attach the docs to an email, address it to a fax number and hit send. No more fax lines to rent or paper to buy. You can even send large files over the internet on your email browser, something you can’t do with regular email attachments.
5. Get out of your comfort zone
Ask a friend to put random suggestions to you for improving your business. They might suggest buying new equipment – which you reject. Or moving into new premises – which you reject. Or hiring a professional for your window display – which you... You get the idea! We have comfort zones and sometimes they become limitations within which we stagnate as business owners. If you reject every suggestion, where does that leave you?
6. Set some (small) goals, achieve them
Set yourself two easy goals each day – enquiring about a new fax service, say, or posting a business update on Facebook. The confidence boost you get from doing these things will put you in a better frame of mind to tackle bigger tasks.
Finally, a seventh tip would be not to take on board the uninvited criticisms of others. Consciously blocking out these comments is difficult, but if you can do it, you have another strategy for becoming a more confident business owner.