This post was originally published on Medium.com.
When you’re a new entrepreneur, there are a lot of things going on. You’re learning many new skills, and you’re also learning how to market and sell your services. Naturally, you’ll probably feel a bit insecure because you don’t have much experience doing these things.
But there’s also something much bigger going on; this is the REAL reason you don’t feel confident as a new business owner.
You’re shifting your identity. You’re moving from one identity to the next and challenging your old identity in the process. For example, you may be going from being an employee to an entrepreneur. Or a stay-at-home mom to a CEO.
As you can imagine, each identity structure has a set of rules to follow. And a particular way of being in the world.
And what happens when you start to change your identity? You feel internal resistance.
When you start to rewrite your old stories of who you are, what you’re capable of, and how you show up in the world, you can begin to push up against your internal boundaries.
Not to mention the boundaries others have created (or you think they’ve made) for you. Your family, your friends, acquaintances, and society in general.
When you start showing up differently, announcing to the world that you’re now an entrepreneur, you may feel strange because you’re challenging your old identity.
Here are five tips to help you start to build confidence as an entrepreneur:
1. Start practicing your new identity.
You need to embrace your new identity to build confidence as an entrepreneur. The best way to do this is to start introducing yourself as an entrepreneur when you meet new people or interact with friends and family.
The more you talk about what you’re doing, the more you convince yourself that this new identity is just another part of you. The critical factor here is to resist the urge to “fall back on” your old identity. This may feel a bit foreign at first, but you’ll naturally introduce yourself as a business owner over time.
2. Give yourself time to adjust.
If you go full steam ahead with your new identity of entrepreneur, it may feel good in the beginning, but then you may hit some roadblocks when you start to get more visible. Realize that identities take a long time to create, so it may take some time to unravel or rewrite the old stories you’ve built around what you can and can’t do.
And realize that you don’t have to get rid of your old identity — you just incorporate your new identity into the whole of who you are. We all have many different identities (ex. wife, mother, sister, daughter, member of a group), and it’s entirely possible to be many things at once.
3. Accept that you won't always feel comfortable.
The truth of being an entrepreneur is that we don’t always feel 100% confident. And that’s okay. When you’re a new business owner, you’re constantly stretching your boundaries and increasing the size of your comfort zone.
There will be days when you don’t feel completely confident, and that’s just part of the process. Over time, as you continue to do bigger and scarier things, you’ll grow and build your confidence.
4. Track your small wins.
The best way to build your confidence as a new entrepreneur and to start wrapping your head around this new identity is to track (and celebrate) your small wins. Every time you show up online and every new client you sign is proof that you are, in fact, an entrepreneur and someone capable of achieving big things.
Keep tracking your small wins; someday, these small wins will add up to significant results.
5. Identify and release your limiting beliefs.
It’s common for new business owners to come to entrepreneurship with many limiting beliefs about who they are and what they’re capable of. This could be everything from thinking you’re too old to start a business to believing that you won’t be successful.
The funny thing is that we don’t even realize we hold these negative beliefs about ourselves until we start a business, and they come up every time we try and go after our goals. It’s good to start noticing these beliefs by journaling, getting quiet, and questioning whether they really are true. And, of course, work with a coach if you need more support.