February 2020 - Small business consultant, Kara Lambert is insightful and expert.

Monthly Archives: February 2020

Self-assurance as a business goal

So the conversation generally goes a little something like this… “Kara, I know I know my stuff but I don’t believe it. I want that confidence and self-assurance of believing that I know it.” Then I hear the song lyric, “Life is a rollercoaster, we’ve just got to ride it…”

Can I confess? I’m a work in progress. Even I get down on my abilities more than I should. Take for example, I’ve got a couple of speaking engagements at my old Uni, Flinders. Why is it that I’m doubting myself and believing that I’m still that 18 year old undergraduate who failed subjects vs that 30+ year old Masters student who got Distinctions. It’s the same person and I’m much more like my 30 year old self. But no, even I get those self-assurance speed wobbles.

So what is self-assurance? It’s confidence in yourself and your abilities. It’s not arrogance or being stuck up.

It’s trusting ourselves and trusting our abilities.

It’s having confidence in ourselves and our abilities.

And I think it’s these last two things people are really struggling with, self-trust & self-confidence. I know I do.

I think self-assurance, or more the lack of it, is often linked with Imposter Syndrome and waiting to be caught out.

Why is self-assurance important to business owners?

self-assurance quote by the Dalai LamaI can’t believe I actually asked that question, but hey I need headings for SEO at least! Anyways, we need it to feel good about ourselves because god knows we’re our own worst enemies but there are some days where we cut ourselves some slack.

We need self-assurance so that we know that at least one person has our back, even if it’s ourselves.

We need self-assurance because business life can be scary.

We need self-assurance because customers can be scary arses.

We need self-assurance because after a while pulling up the big girl panties leaves you with a mega-wedgie and no one wants that.

I needed self-assurance because I was honestly too damn old to rely on anyone else to hold me up and I needed to do it alone. I realized that if I didn’t have my own back, I was in a pretty sad state. Not to mention, sometimes I’m the only person I can trust. (Sad truth, I’m the one that has the best vision for my business)

Why is self-assurance a goal?

When I first meet with a new client we run through what drives their clients, their staff (if they have them), and finally what drives themselves. The very last thing we talk about is their personal goals for themselves – self-assurance is mentioned as a goal, never a need/belief/value.

Can I be honest, I find that pretty sad. It’s sad that having confidence in our abilities & knowledge is a goal to be attained, not something we need. So what is the difference?

Needs are fundamentals to what we have to do and are a basic driver, think along the lines of food/shelter/safety etc. Goals are nice to have and are not necessary.

So many of us see self-assurance and having confidence in our knowledge and ability as a goal and not something we need to have. That means we’re ok with living in a state of not trusting ourselves, self-doubt, and possibly not having our own backs when things get hard. No wonder when things go pear-shaped we can hit rock bottom really hard and we wonder if it’s all worthwhile.

Why do we put believing in ourselves last? Why does it have such a low priority? Why is it not necessary “self-care”? Are we all martyrs?

Fixing self-assurance

Beyonce self-assurance quoteI’d love to say that I had the perfect cure for self-assurance. To be honest, it looks different for everyone and the path to it is also as differing. But there’s one thing I know for certain…

Self-Assurance is necessary. We are deserving of self-assurance. Self-assurance should not be put off to be achieved “someday when everything else is in order”.

Self-assurance is one of the cornerstones we rely on to achieve the other goals, because if we don’t believe in ourselves and our abilities – how can we expect anyone else to believe in us?

Using facts in business

On facts and business

Can I share a little secret? I find great comfort in facts and figures, especially in business. And I have a sneaking suspicion that you prefer to know that the information you’re receiving in based in good, solid evidence. And I have to be honest, I feel that in the social media space especially – I’m kind of alone.

I see a number of people saying, “don’t share facts and figures on your business social media as your clients don’t like it”. You know, if my clients like to see facts and figures and it is reassuring to them – how is that a bad thing?

I totally understand that in this time of Fake News and disinformation that facts can be fudged – but then they are no longer facts. Surely in a time where people are questioning the truth of what they see that facts offer certainty.

The right facts

Facts quote by Aldous HuxleyI agree that there can be too much of a good thing – facts included. I have often dropped off while reading a book laden with facts and figures. We just can’t do that to each other in regular business – unless we’re in the business of writing textbooks.

There is value in a carefully constructed story with some poignant facts to bolster a point or position. For those of us with mortgages, consider if the news reported all the facts and figures that the Reserve Bank trawled through when reviewing the cash rate – we’d switch off in the first 10 seconds. In reality, all we want to know is up, down, same and how much. All facts and figures but all the right ones for the audience.

That’s my point, know your audience and what they want to hear from you and use that.

 

 

Facts and figure vs pontificating

I love a good opinion piece, I really do, especially when it challenges my way of thinking. The thing is that there needs to be (for me) a good smattering of facts and figures to help convince me to change my thinking.

The beauty of facts and figures, it can boost your credibility. You’re not just sprouting your opinion – you’ve actually cared enough to do some research and show us that there’s truth behind what you say. I think that’s key in this day & age, truth. We are told to be transparent but where is the truth? How do we know if we can’t check ourselves?

It actually makes good content

I’m a bit of a Pinterest fiend, ok a lot of one and I do love a good infographic. Facts and figures are the staples of a business infographic. They’re great usable content as the infographic distils all the points from an article and puts it in a nice wee image for us to digest. Not everyone likes to read their facts and figures, some people just want the key points (as I mentioned with the bank) pulled out for them and put into a simple diagram.

Facts and figures position us

Facts quote by Ricky GervaisIf your audience likes facts, then the use of them can improve your “position in their eyes”. People look to experts and in an uncertain world, their certainty can give us comfort. (I wish I had a reference to this, yes I get the irony)

In the end, using facts and figures comes down to if your business audience likes them, if they find comfort in them, if they look to you for that comfort, and if you’re happy positioning yourself there.

I admitted earlier that I like facts & figures, they’re comforting and familiar, I also enjoy finding them as they challenge me and it means I learn more about my industry. Now that’s something I’m always keen to do and think we should all be prepared to do – learn more & challenge ourselves.

6 tips to build self confidence for small business owners

6 tips to build self confidence for small business owners

“Kara, I just need more self-confidence”, “I need to get out of my own way”, “I need to stop holding myself back”. It’s generally what our conversations come down to, no matter what we start with. Generally, it starts with wanting to learn how to promote their small business on social media, then after a little while, the truth comes up. It’s really a lack of self-confidence that is stopping them progressing.

How can a lack of self-confidence show up?

Procrastination

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can put off until next week. Amiright? You suddenly need to tidy your desk, do some washing, check your emails or social media. Anything. Anything rather than what you’re meant to be doing.

Finding a dozen different things to do rather than doing the one thing that needs doing is a common symptom of many things, including a lack of self-confidence.

Procrastination can also look like planning and perfectionism, but deep down these can both hide a lack of self-confidence.

I can honestly say that this article has taken me three-times longer to write than any other and the word count is the same. I’ve not gone off to do research, but boy have I procrastinated – so much so that I’ve deleted Facebook from my browser tabs.

Questioning or second-guessing

tips to build self confidence Michelle Obama quoteI know my self-confidence was beaten by a number of people questioning my ability. It got to the point that I questioned my own. You know that thing where you hear something often enough, you begin to believe it. It sucks!

To be honest, I’ve found the constant doubt is draining. Not only does it take a lot of internal dialogue, it takes a lot of energy, and it uses up a lot of time. All things I could be putting to better use elsewhere.

Perfectionism

I just need to do xyz. I just need to add ABC. It’s not quite right. It needs to be perfect.  Do I have all of them? (Geez, you’d think I was a perfectionist by that last question)

Perfectionism avoids criticism, rejection, shame, and just doing that thing. It takes time and every perfectionist I’ve met (I’m not one, and I feel like the antithesis at times) has said that it is utterly exhausting.

The constant judgement, comparison, and/or questioning means that nothing is ever achieved and that wins are never made and certainly not celebrated. Celebrations don’t occur because things are never good enough.

Perfectionism can be debilitating, depressing and extremely time-consuming.

Getting advice from others

There is a time and a place for everything and this is certainly one of them. Yes, I know that asking for advice in big Facebook Groups is a (marginally) covert way to draw attraction to your brand. It’s a way to create controversy. I’m not talking about this. When you can’t make a decision and you have to ask for advice from others, sometimes you truly don’t know and sometimes you truly don’t trust that you’re making the right decision. Or perhaps you’re always asking the one person for advice. (And it’s not someone on that list, see below)

Deferring to someone can hide a lack of trust in oneself. It can be a symptom of people-pleasing (raises hand here). Some people also do it so they have someone to blame (but that’s unlikely to be anyone reading this as they generally don’t like what I write).

The problem with this habit is that the turn around takes time and the vast majority of the people asked will not have or understand your business (or audience) as well as you. They may have more experience, but that’s the only place they can give advice from and their experiences may not be relevant to you, yours, or your business.

General low self-confidence

In general, low self-confidence can show up as fatigue, tasks taking longer, and a lot of internal dialogue (not a lot of it being constructive). It’s draining – I know because I still battle this. It takes courage and effort to overcome but I promise that each step you take releases you to be more of yourself and that feels incredible.

6 things to do to build self-confidence

First things first

The very first thing is to actually catch yourself doing it. This takes an ability to be mindful and questioning of your thoughts and actions. You may need to put a reminder somewhere that says something along the lines of, “Is this real or is it low confidence?”. Then you can try one, or all, of the following solutions.

Rip the bandage

If procrastination is your pet when it comes to testing your self-confidence then I suggest using Mel Robbin’s 5-second rule. Count to 5 and then start the task.

Pomodoro

tips to build self confidence for small business Samuel Johnson quoteNever heard of the Pomodoro technique? It’s where you spend a block of time working on a task, anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, and then you do something you enjoy. The catch is that you must spend all of that active time on the task. Set a timer on your phone and stick to it.

Live in alignment with your beliefs and values

It’s hard to live in self-doubt when you are living in alignment with your beliefs and values. I promise it takes time and practice but when it comes down to it there are 3 things you need to be able to get yourself moving:

  1. Be mindful of what is driving your behaviour & ask yourself if you are acting from a place of self-doubt
  2. Remind yourself of what your core beliefs & values are
  3. Act from your core beliefs & values rather than reacting from a place of doubt or fear.

A person in your corner

Sometimes it’s easier if we know that someone has our back. Perhaps it’s a safety in numbers thing. I know I feel safer knowing that I have a handful, and I do mean just a few, people who believe in and support me – no matter what.

Who are they for you? Write down their names & keep the list close. When you are feeling uncertain, look at the list or have a chat with them. Most of all know that they believe in you, even when you’re uncertain of yourself.

Small wins

When we focus on the big goal it can seem insurmountable and we can lose confidence. While we can break a task down into more manageable chunks, we can also break them down into ones that we know we will succeed at. Having had some success at a task can give us the confidence to move forward and try more – to do more. This builds self-confidence. This is exactly why I celebrate the wins in my Facebook Group each Friday.

Get help

To overcome a lot of my self-confidence issues, I used Cognitive Behavioural Therapy under the guidance of a psychologist. From there I used the same techniques to uncover and work through further issues as they arose. Rebuilding self-confidence is a journey, most of us have lived with it for years and that takes time to sort through. I want you to know that I am here to help you unpack using the techniques I’ve learnt, tried, and tested. I’d love to help you be more self-confident & I encourage you to check this page out for more information.

 

What to do when you fear that things will never get better in your business

What to do when you fear that things will never get better

You wish it was ‘one of those days’, only because it’s been weeks and months of feeling like you’re going nowhere in your business. You feel like things will never get better. In fact, there are times you find yourself opening up the job websites and searching for a 9-5 because it will never get better.

I understand. I had big plans for 2016, it was going to be my year! I had had a run of successful workshops in 2015 and I was ready to go big. Except that before we even hit the end of January, my Dad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Bam! I thought, “My life will never get better”. In fact, I couldn’t even look for a job because I knew my parents needed me and I just had to tread water and do the best I could.

It may never get better

A new normal when things feel like they will never get better. Quote Robin SharmaHere’s the thing. My Dad did die. After 10 months and many admissions to hospital, cancer got the better of him and my life changed forever.

But that’s the thing. My life as I knew it never got better, it got different. There was now a new normal for my life.

Think of it this way, if you’re old enough. Remember borrowing a library book and grabbing the card, having it date stamped? Now we download books straight to our phone. Remember dial-up internet & waiting for someone to get off the phone or a phone call coming through and booting your connection? Now even our fridge is connected to the internet & phone calls only interrupt us if we’re live-streaming on our mobile phones. We have a new normal. And boy don’t we know it when it’s taken away. We thought it would never get better than dial-up & now we wait overnight for the latest phone.

You will adapt to this new normal, even though it may not get better per your ‘old’ normal or look like you’d planned.

What to do when you realise it may never get better

People say, “This too shall pass” and it does but how do you actually get through the passing time?

When it comes to business, while you do it for you, you also do it for others. So take some time and get off self. In business, your business is so much more about other people than it is yourself. Go volunteer. Go do something nice for a long-standing client. Turn your focus outwards. Did you know that it’s been shown that people who volunteer their time or do a good deed for someone will feel happy long after the overthinking is complete?

When we feel that things will never get better, we are looking inwards. Now there’s nothing wrong with a little internal navel-gazing so long as we are using it to move forward and grow. But that’s generally not the mindset we are in when we are wading through this space.

Turning your energy outwards is a pattern interrupt and it’s a 180 on your mindset. I’m all in favour of doing these things when you’re stuck.

Pattern interrupts, like Mel Robbins’ 5-second rule, can break a spiral and move us to a new place – fast. It also removes any thinking or overthinking, we might be doing. It cuts one thing off and replaces it with another.

Doing a 180, moving from self to others, is no normal distraction technique.

You can also do a 180 and write it all down. I’ve suggested taking a common practice or belief in your industry and writing something in direct opposition to it. This flipped thinking forces you to take a different perspective and gets you looking at a situation for a whole other viewpoint. (And sometimes we need to take a new perspective)

The final word when you think it’s never going to get better

A new normal when you feel that things will never get better Socrates QuoteIf you find that time is dragging on and you don’t feel any better. Please seek help.

Talk to your/an accountant to check your financials.
Talk to your/a lawyer about any legal complications.
Talk to a friend in business.
Talk to a friend who has your back.

Too often in business, especially in small, micro, or family businesses, we feel like we are all alone and we have to do it all. We’re not and we don’t.

When my Dad was sick, I saw a psychologist. When I was lost in my business last year, I spoke with a messaging expert. When I was ready to grow my business in 2017, I hired a business coach.

Gather people around you. The people who support you. The people who will hold your faith in you until you can do it alone. The people who will tell you the truth because you need to hear it and not because they need to feel good saying it. I know I now have a different type of better, one I never imagined, and it’s growing on me.

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