Sometimes, entrepreneurs can be their own worst enemies. For example, they may start to doubt themselves and think they don't deserve the successes they've enjoyed because they "don't know what they're doing," or think that others in their shoes have far more experience and qualifications. This phenomenon is known as impostor syndrome, and it can really put a damper on an otherwise thriving business.
Women entrepreneurs are particularly susceptible to impostor syndrome, especially when they're working in a field dominated by men. They may feel like they are inadequate, haven't earned their accolades, or simply aren't doing enough -- even if none of that is true.
Fortunately, members of Young Entrepreneur Council have been through it all and come out the other side, more confident and successful than ever. We asked six of them to share their experiences and advice for their fellow female business owners who want to stop feeling like a fraud in their field.
1. Start Asking Yourself More Positive Questions
I often felt pangs of impostor syndrome as my company grew larger. I found myself questioning if I was really the best person to handle such growth, and felt anxious regularly. I learned to change the question: Rather than asking myself if I was capable, I started asking myself, "What's great about this?" Changing the question put me in a better headspace to perform well, rather than making decisions from a place of fear or anxiety. - Rachel Beider, Massage Greenpoint, Massage Williamsburg
2. Change Your Focus From Yourself To Others
As a female founder, a woman in tech and mother of five, I am regularly asked how I make it work -- that I must either not be placing enough attention on my kids or my business. I once had a potential investor state they "weren't sure how they felt about me being a mom." I've had people question my founder role since I was on maternity leave when my company was started. It can be easy to start questioning your own value and position when you constantly have to confront misogyny, trolls and sexism. By turning off the white noise of negativity and changing your focus from yourself and turn it toward others helps tremendously. When I think about the jobs I have created, the women founders I have mentored and the clients' lives we've changed, it is easy to ignore the negative self-talk. - Jennifer Mellon,
3. Remember What You Have To Offer The World
When I started my apparel company, I was only 21 years old in a field that was dominated by mostly men two to three times my age. As my company grew, I questioned what I was doing running it. At that age, I let passion trump my fear and propel me forward. As I've gotten older and branched into other fields, I often find myself in rooms where I am the youngest, the least experienced or the only woman. What helps me is knowing there are thousands of women who have made it that felt exactly the same way.Their necessity to give something important to the world overcame their own self-doubt. I keep a list of these women to remind me that I'm not alone, that the fear is normal, and that the greatest gift I can give to the world is to shine, even when I can't see the way. - Dalia MacPhee, DALIA MACPHEE
4. Build And Participate In A Support Network
I can get in my own head pretty easily. I need outside help to get out of the impostor syndrome loop. Having friends who understand what I'm working on and my ability level is crucial. They're able to tell me that I'm on track because they're right there with me. The reverse is true, too. I'm able to tell friends who work on similar projects that they know what they're doing, that they're doing things the same way I would, that they are going to make it through their impostor syndrome. Participating in a support network makes a world of difference for me. - Thursday Bram, The Responsible Communication Style Guide
5. Let Your Accomplishments Speak For Themselves
You have to achieve your goals, and then celebrate and showcase your accomplishments. No matter how hard you are on yourself, the big successes you have will speak for themselves. You will create recognition in a positive way and have people view you as an innovative leader. Starting a company and having three little kids at home really forces you to prioritize and make the most out of each hour in your day. I do not let anyone else's doubts in my head to distract me or hold me back. I always think about pushing forward, and as much as I take pride and great care of my family, I am also proud and accomplished to have a successful company. This actually makes me a better mom and wife, being able to do what I love and make something great out of it. - Sarah Yeverovich, Empowered Staffing
6. Find Your Mantra And Repeat It Over And Over Until You Believe It
Impostor syndrome was fierce in my head. "They are going to find out I'm a fraud and kick me out of their circle of influence." That mindset kept me from soaring for a long time. And then, something finally changed. I started a mantra of, "You were made for this. Now rock it." And I started to actually believe it. Granted, I had to say it 1,345,678 times to start feeling it, but it worked. The truth is, you are a rock star and you were made for this. So go do your thing, because it's going to be incredible. - Kim Walsh-Phillips, Elite Digital Group
Original Article in Forbes