As a small business owner, you know your business cold–whether it’s making cupcakes or cutting hair. But the job of a business owner also calls for many other skills. Sometimes, you can find yourself wondering if you bit off more than you can chew by opening your own business. Or, you may fear that others will think you’re an imposter–that you don’t know everything you should about running a business.
If so, you’re not alone. One study found that about 84 percent of entrepreneurs and small business owners experience imposter syndrome (IP) at some point in their careers. What’s more, it may be that simply being a self-aware and high-achieving person causes you to doubt your own abilities. You’re in good company. Case in point, Albert Einstein, Serena Williams, Jennifer Lopez, Natalie Portman, and Lupita Nyong’o are among those who’ve shared feelings of self-doubt.
The other piece of good news is that IP is not so much a diagnosis as a state of mind. That means you can overcome it.
Understanding IP is the first step to overcoming it. And, since there’s power in naming a tendency or problem in order to face it and banish it, take a look at 5 types of IP as described by Valerie Young, imposter syndrome expert.
Perfectionists tend to set impossibly high standards and goals for themselves and then criticize themselves harshly for the slightest mistake or slip up. The problem is twofold. First, they set themselves up for failure by setting unrealistic standards. Then, instead of acknowledging their hard work and successes along the way, they zero-in on their failures—even if minor. Perfectionists also tend to procrastinate because they’re afraid of failing.
You can counteract perfectionist IP as a small business owner by:
Like perfectionists, natural geniuses tend to set high standards for themselves—but they also expect to succeed on the first try. Natural geniuses perceive struggle as weakness or failure. Often, kids who were labeled as “gifted” when they were young grow into adults who struggle with natural genius imposter syndrome.
For the small business owner who encounters a host of unfamiliar demands, this form of IP is particularly difficult. These steps can help nip the natural genius IP tendencies in the bud:
Superhumans are convinced they’re phonies when they compare themselves to their peers. As a result, they push themselves to the point of exhaustion in an effort to “measure up.” Superhumans often appear to others as workaholics. However, they’re more often seeking validation from others–not necessarily measurable success on the job.
Since they have to deal with lots of different demands in different areas of business, small business owners can easily fall prey to the superhuman form of IP–and that can lead to burn out.
Here’s how you can fight Superhuman IP, prevent burnout, and be your own hero.
True to their name, soloists believe they should be able to do everything themselves. Like several other types in this list, soloists compare themselves to others. Unlike some of the others on the list, they fear that asking for help makes them look weak or exposes their phoniness.
Like superhumans, soloists push themselves extra hard out of fear of asking for help and exposing what they perceive to be their weaknesses.
Like the superhuman type, soloists can benefit from automating as much as they can. Here are a few additions ways to overcome Soloist IP:
Experts tend to focus all their energy on something they know well or are proficient at doing. They feel ashamed if they don’t have all the information they want all the time–and they tend to compare themselves and their accomplishments to others. Often, they cringe when introduced as an “expert” because they fear having to prove themselves and their worth.
Experts tend to stay busy taking classes, training, or getting certified in areas in order to fill perceived gaps in their knowledge or qualifications. While helpful in some ways, constant training can lead to burnout, as well as procrastination on business-related tasks. And that could affect the health and success of their business.
Overcoming Expert IP calls for facing the fear of inadequacy head on. Here are a couple of key ways to do that:
IP is real. Fortunately, there are also a few simple ways to help overcome it: Automate, delegate, recognize your thought patterns and accomplishments, and seek a mentor.
Clover POS can help you automate your business. Be sure to check out the Clover App Market for some great apps and ideas that could help you boost your business and kick IP to the side. And, keep tabs on our blog for even more ideas that can help you and your business.
This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional mental health advice. For additional support with mental health, readers should contact their medical care providers or visit MentalHealth.gov.