Most people might believe that successful entrepreneurs are rare, exceptionally smart and or lucky. Having met more than 1,000 entrepreneurs, that is not the case in general. They are normal, hard-working people with similar intelligence to most people. What separates them however, from most people, is not the business or startup idea. It’s a rock-solid belief in themselves. They had it before they ever thought about being entrepreneurs or small business owners. Where did they acquire it?
That’s a good question. In looking back at all the people who I have met that became entrepreneurs it’s not easy to see whether or not they might actually be a successful entrepreneur. Quite a few people might actually have bet against them. So, what enables them to take the leap and persevere? First, they are confident in themselves. Second, they usually have a growth mindset (which is believing you can learn anything). And third, they have a resiliency that is beyond normal which is critical for entrepreneurs or small business owners. They believe they will overcome any problem that comes their way.
Here are ten insights into better understanding how to build your confidence:
You were not born to be owner/entrepreneur. My belief is that no one is actually born to do anything specific. So, you have to believe that you have the potential to be an entrepreneur or small business owner. You just have to choose what you will do to match your experience or skill set or passion.
Growth mindset and learning new things. This insight is critical. You have to believe, regardless of your parent’s DNA or what people have said, that you have the potential to learn new things, to be creative and to be more curious. If you believe you have a fixed mindset, then you believe you cannot learn new things and your potential is limited. Start to cultivate your growth mindset by learning a new language, attending a course on creativity, trying new foods, talking with an artist or coder for new perspectives, traveling to a country you have never visited. Be more curious.
Be positive and believe in yourself. Not sure if I have ever met a small business owner or entrepreneur who was not confident in themselves. Confidence is not being cocky or arrogant. It’s believing in yourself, surrounding yourself with positive people who believe in you and always focusing on positive outcomes even when things go wrong.
Own your goals. Some people meander through life, and when things don’t go well, they blame everything and everyone else. If it were easy to be an entrepreneur or small business owner, everyone would do it. There will be trying days. There will be happy days. The key is to own your goals and your destiny. Set clear simple goals with a one, two- or three-year deadlines and focus on one year at a time. And let your network know what your goals are so they can help.
Have a Plan B when things go south. Things will go wrong. No matter your business, you should plan for times when key things go wrong. What if your key supplier does not come through? Line up aback-up supplier now. What if the power goes out? Know where you can rent a back-up power supply. A key employee quits; you should always be looking for talent.
Strive for excellence not perfection. It’s really hard to be perfect let alone strive for perfection. Reid Hoffman once said in the early days of LinkedIn, “If we had waited to make our first version of LinkedIn perfect, it would have never launched.” Create your product or service, launch it, get customer feedback, improve it and keep going.
Understand mistakes and learn. Someone once said, we learn more from our mistakes than if something never went wrong. No one willingly makes a mistake. So, assume you or your employees will make mistakes. Hopefully you will understand what the problem was and not repeat it. Learn and move on.
Being comfortable with being uncomfortable. Remember when you were in school and had to give that presentation, how nervous you were and how you thought you would never get through it? Well, you did. Remember how good you felt afterwards? Funny, as life goes on, we tend to avoid being uncomfortable but at the edge of uncomfortable is exploration, opportunity and potential reward. Learn how to be okay with being uncomfortable with little things first, then progress you way up to bigger decisions.
Neutralize weaknesses and build strengths. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Most people focus on and rely on their strengths and tend to ignore their weaknesses until it hampers them. You don’t have to turn a weakness into a strength, just neutralize it. Afraid of public speaking? Okay, so you will not be the next great orator. But you can take a public speaking course or seminar to get over your fear and learn some speaking techniques and skills.
Peer group of entrepreneurs or small business owners. If you really want to be an entrepreneur or small business owner, then starting building your network from this potential peer group. Find out when there are key small business or entrepreneurship events to attend and meet people. Reach out to four or five owners/entrepreneurs whose businesses you admire. Buy them a cup of coffee/tea and ask them simple questions. Attend pitch competitions and potentially meet the VC’s or entrepreneur judges.