How to deal with impostor syndrome as a young entrepreneur

by The Insights

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Have you ever had doubts about your own abilities or felt out of place among successful people? Do feelings of inadequacy persist even when external evidence suggests competence or achievement? If so, know that this sensation is known as “impostor syndrome,” first described by psychologists Pauline Rose and Suzanne Imes more than four decades ago.

Young entrepreneurs navigating this exceptionally dynamic field may find this phenomenon incredibly challenging. However, remember that such struggles are normal for many, as studies show that 84% of entrepreneurs experience them. As someone who started their entrepreneurial journey at age 20, I’m no stranger to feeling outclassed or underprepared compared to more seasoned professionals. But savoring these moments can help foster growth within yourself — don’t let mere doubts get in the way of personal triumphs.

Imposter Syndrome can significantly hinder the personal and professional growth of young entrepreneurs. A lack of trust and questioning can paralyze decision-making processes and hinder progress. This becomes a barrier to networking and relationship building, as the fear of being perceived as inexperienced or fraudulent can limit their interactions.

To overcome the impostor syndrome, it is essential that young entrepreneurs adopt effective strategies.

Here are some of the strategies that have helped me overcome Impostor Beast Syndrome:

Related: Mindset Techniques That Will Help You Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Recognize the signs

Impostor Syndrome can manifest in many different ways, such as self-doubt, perfectionism, procrastination, overwork, undervaluing, avoiding comments or praise, or feeling like a foreign. If you notice any of these signs in yourself, recognize it and name it impostor syndrome. Don’t let them define you or your work.

Celebrate your accomplishments

One of the reasons impostor syndrome thrives is that we tend to minimize or dismiss our accomplishments. We think they are not enough, that we were lucky or that anyone could have done them. But this is not true. You have put in a lot of effort and worked hard for your accomplishments, and you deserve to be proud of that. Make a clear list of your successes, big and small, and review it regularly – say weekly, monthly or quarterly (I prefer to do mine once a week). Share your successes with someone you trust and who supports you. Celebrate your victories and give yourself credit for them.

Reframe your failures

Another reason why impostor syndrome persists is that we tend to magnify or dwell on our failures. We think they’re proof that we’re not good enough, that we don’t belong, or that we’re doomed to fail again. But that’s not true either. Failures are inevitable and normal in entrepreneurship. They in no way reflect your value or your potential. These are opportunities to learn and grow. Instead of blaming yourself for your mistakes, ask yourself what you can learn from them and how you can improve next time. Failures are a springboard to your success.

Related: How to Avoid Imposter Syndrome and Be a Successful Entrepreneur

Seek feedback and support

Imposter syndrome can make us feel isolated and alone. We think we are the only ones feeling this or that we need to hide our feelings from others. But this is neither healthy nor useful. Imposter syndrome thrives on secrecy and silence. It shrinks in the light of honesty and connection. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others who understand what you’re going through and can offer you constructive feedback and support. Find a mentor, coach, peer group, or friend who can help you see yourself more objectively and positively.

Embrace your uniqueness

Imposter syndrome can make us feel inadequate and insecure. We think we have to be like someone else, fit a certain mold or follow a certain path to be successful. But that’s not true at all. You are unique and precious as you are. You have something to offer that no one else can. You have your own voice, your own style, your own vision. Embrace your uniqueness and let it shine through your work.

Build a support network

Surrounding yourself with positive influences is key to fighting impostor syndrome. Seeking mentorship from people who have gone through similar challenges can provide valuable insight and encouragement. Joining communities and networks of entrepreneurs fosters connections with like-minded people and creates opportunities for collaboration and sharing of experiences.

Related: How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome and Tame Your Inner Critic

Overcoming impostor syndrome as a young entrepreneur is an ongoing process. By recognizing and understanding causes and triggers, entrepreneurs can implement effective strategies to regain confidence and overcome self-doubt. Cultivating a positive mindset, celebrating accomplishments, seeking support, and building a support network are essential steps on this journey. Remember that the success of a young entrepreneur is not measured by the absence of self-doubt, but rather by their ability to push forward and believe in their abilities. Take on challenges, take one step at a time, and trust your journey to achieve your entrepreneurial goals.

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