Four lessons I learned from building my confidence as a small business owner
Building my confidence is a work in progress. I still struggle with sending big invoices, contacting new leads, and promoting my services 1:1. I still struggle with Imposter Syndrome and not being liked. I am still a people pleaser. But I’m getting better and I wanted to share with you the four things I’ve learnt that help me the most.
Small wins build confidence
This is currently on high rotation in my home, the small win. What’s something small that can be done, especially if it’s part of something larger I’m feeling intimidated by, that will get the win. When I’m down deep in the ditch and I can just see a little light, I know that one little step can pick me up. One little win can start a bigger snowball forming. One small act can light a fire.
I use this with my teenage kids when they say that they are hopeless and can’t do anything right. Sometimes we can’t see the forest and it’s all dark. Having one small win shows us that we are capable and often sparks the feeling that we know we can do more.
Who is in the Arena with me?
I learnt this one many years ago. I first used it when I was encountering trolls and was feeling intimidated online. It comes from Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘Man in the Arena’ speech. I listed 3 (you can have up to 5) people who are in the arena and who have my back and put me back in the arena, no matter what. When I feel intimidated, threatened, or trolled I look at these names and if the person who is making me doubt myself doesn’t have their name on my list then I don’t pay attention to what they are saying.
Over the years I’ve gone from having the list of names under my laptop, to in my purse, and now I don’t have to carry them to be reminded. I know who has my back, who is in my Arena, and that gives me the confidence to continue to be who I am.
Get off self
This is one of my constant cries when I am about to get on stage. I love speaking but I still get the jitters before I take the stage. I’ve recently started using this when I’m about to talk to a new lead – get off self.
What I do is that I remind myself that what I am about to do is not about me, it’s about the people I’m about to help. Many years ago, before one of my first speaking engagements, a speaking coach told me that my audience did not deserve my nerves. It’s true. The self-doubt I was feeling fuelled my nerves. The thing is that when I am speaking, the organiser wants me there. When I’m talking to a lead, that person wants to learn from me. While these sentences look like they are about me, the active person is actually not me – it’s them.
By switching my focus off of myself and on to the people I am about to serve, I lose any nervousness and I gain confidence. I know my stuff and they have come to me to learn it and I need to make my thoughts all about them and getting that knowledge to them.
How values are key to building confidence
Sometimes I can just kick myself for having the core value of courage. It makes slinking back into the shadows really hard at times. Seasoned readers will know that I call our core values our compass. It holds us true and keeps us traveling in the right direction.
When we act from our core value we are being authentic and true to ourselves. When we act from our values, we achieve; when we achieve we build our confidence in our abilities.
You might think that it’s all well and good when my core value is courage, what if it’s something else? Let me tell you about a client whose core value is family. He felt stuck and monopolised in an ongoing business agreement. He felt undervalued by the client and wanted to leave. We were doing work on his mindset to help him after the move and I worked with him to uncover what his core value was – family. When we’d done this, I asked him how staying with this client helped his family. He agreed that it didn’t. He had other clients available but this one monopolised his time, he didn’t want to lose the income but he was by not being able to service the other clients. I helped him draft an email, terminating their ongoing commitment. Soon after, he signed a new client at a higher price point, he is happier, and he is making changes to his life so that he and his family can be happier.
You see, you don’t have to have courage as a value, you just have to act from the one that you dig into when your back’s to the wall.
Look, I don’t always have all the confidence in the world, or that I seem to have on stage (I am actually an introvert). What I do have for these times is a set of tools to help me improve. I know I’m improving because I’ve gotten on stage infront of 100-odd women to talk about fear, I’ve submitted invoices to train some of Australia’s top media agencies, and I’m parenting teens (and if any of you have been there you’ll know how often your heart is in your throat). If you’d like a few other tools, then grab my toolkit for 10 free tools to help you in building your confidence.