To help entrepreneurs conquer self-doubt and maintain confidence, we’ve gathered 15 insightful tips from founders, CEOs, and other industry leaders.
From learning to embrace new experiences and build self-belief to the practice of “micro-accomplishments” and positive influence, this article provides a wealth of practical advice for your entrepreneurial journey.
Embrace New Experiences and Build Self-Belief
“When I was living in NYC, I wanted to try something new, so I joined Toastmasters. Little did I know it would change my life! I started speaking in public, delivering workshops, and early on, I had tons of self-doubt.
“Over time, as I grew more confident, people said, “You’re really good. You should do it as a job!” So I did! I now run my own coaching consultancy. I’ve spoken around the world, and I coach leaders to take bold actions that deliver next-level success. Here are my tips:
- Step into new experiences to stretch yourself and grow your confidence.
- Develop self-awareness – recognize how your emotions affect your thoughts and behaviors, reframe them, and banish self-doubt.
- Take it one day at a time – because it takes practice and dedication. There’ll be challenges, but each day you take bold action, you’re building your confidence, getting stronger.
- Build that belief in yourself – you have the inner strength to get there, it’s your time to shine, be bold, go for it!”
Prioritize Your Work-Life Balance
“In my entrepreneurial journey, maintaining confidence has been a transformative process. While I’ve always believed in myself and my capabilities, the imposter syndrome phenomenon at times had me questioning my position as a leader.
“Rather than allowing those feelings to derail my dreams, I instead embraced them as a natural part of the process, using self-doubt as a catalyst to drive my own personal and professional growth forward. Through hard work and commitment to my mission, I found my voice as an educator, advocate, and leader, which enabled me to successfully build and grow a team and expand my company into a thriving business.
“My advice for entrepreneurs experiencing similar feelings is to remember why you started your journey and take a moment to reflect on how far you’ve already come; prioritize a healthy work-life balance and self-care; engage in mindfulness practices; and take time for personal interests to rejuvenate your spirit and enhance your resilience.”
With Small Business Digital Ready, you gain access to free events hosted by industry experts. Plus, get opportunities to network with peers in your area.
Transform Failures into Opportunities
“Similar to most entrepreneurs, I let go of predictability for autonomy and self-reliance to invest in a dream and persevere to make it a reality. Mistakes and “failures” have come and gone throughout my journey.
“Initially, these mistakes impacted confidence—”Am I equipped to do this? Am I letting myself and others down? Is it time to give up?” In my growth, my view on “failure” shifted from an emotional response to a logical one, and also considered what was and was not within my control.
Instead, I focused on what actually is controllable, which was the most impactful shift for me and my business. Viewing “failures” as opportunities was crucial to being nimble in adjusting, adding or removing services (and how we offer and market them) to optimally meet client needs.
“Lastly, we expect to “fail” in the future. This is how I know we are innovating, taking risks, and continuously improving, which has had an incredible trickle-down effect across all employees and empowered them to innovate as well.”
Adam Ratner, Owner and Clinical Psychotherapist, Grow Wellness Group
Maintain a “Better Days Drawer”
“I keep what I call the “better days drawer” for the days of doubt. Every time I have a great day, or an achievement worth remembering, I add an object attached to that memory. It may just be a scrap of paper with a note that explains what happened, or a receipt, anything.
“As long as it will trigger the memory that I am very capable, and that great times have happened, it’s a great trick for making a rough day better, and reminding myself that the doubts will pass.”
Use Mindfulness to Leverage Self-Doubt
“One effective strategy I’ve used to overcome self-doubt and maintain confidence is the practice of mindfulness. It’s not about eradicating doubt, but acknowledging its presence and using it as a growth tool.
“By observing self-doubt instead of becoming overwhelmed by it, I can view the situation from a broader perspective. For instance, when launching my life-coaching business, I was filled with questions about my competence, troubled by impostor syndrome, and unsure if my experience was enough.
“Instead of succumbing to these doubts, I mindfully acknowledged them and reminded myself of all the positive feedback I’d received from past clients. I used these doubts as fuel to continue growing, developing my skills further, and providing the best possible value to my clients.”
Revisit Successes and Stay Committed
“As a startup CEO, moments of self-doubt are not uncommon. In those times, the focus remains on delivering results. Being a data-driven marketer, diving into statistics is the way forward. Reviewing the impressive numbers achieved at Folderly—dozens of clients who’ve improved their email deliverability by 30-50%—serves as a reminder. These aren’t just numbers; they’re a testament to the impact being made. This provides reassurance.
“Uncertainty can be overwhelming, but the data doesn’t lie. So, the advice to fellow entrepreneurs is this: when self-doubt starts creeping in, revisit your results, let your successes reaffirm your confidence, and stay committed to your mission.”
Foster Community, Positive Self-Talk, and Self-Care
“There are three major ways to overcome self-doubt and maintain confidence in the entrepreneurial journey.
“The first is remembering to surround oneself with a community. It’s extremely important, especially when feeling discouraged. By being part of a community that understands the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, one doesn’t have to go through anything alone. This community serves as a reminder of personal power and highest commitments as a human being and business owner.
“The second is that positive self-talk and hypnosis can be game-changers. Mastering mindset is key to success. It’s about becoming one’s own biggest cheerleader instead of one’s own worst critic. It’s important to remember that just because a negative thought occurs, it doesn’t make it true.
“Finally, practice self-care! For a solopreneur, it’s easy to become a workaholic. Making it a priority to step away and do things for fun is crucial. Filling one’s own cup and giving from the overflow means saying no sometimes and enforcing boundaries. It leads to better outcomes.”
“As much as I want to believe that self-doubt is behind me on my professional journey, it is a regular part of being human. Normalizing my feelings helps me deal with them. I can look at my accomplishments all day, but that doesn’t always translate to confidence or feeling sure of oneself.
“Owning and running a business, investing in other major projects, or meeting with incredibly talented people and stakeholders doesn’t always translate to cutting through the sense of imposter syndrome or self-questioning I sometimes experience.
“What does help me is choosing to continue along, even though I sometimes feel what I feel. Courage is not acting in the absence of fear. Courage is acting according to your values in the face of fear. Remind yourself of how far you’ve come regularly. When those feelings of self-doubt crop up, that’s ok. You’re still on your way.”
Reflect on Impact and Foster Gratitude
“In my entrepreneurial journey, moments of self-doubt are inevitable. However, what keeps my confidence buoyed is reflecting on the tangible impact of my efforts. I think of the talented team members who have evolved into industry leaders under our umbrella. I consider how many lives have been financially uplifted because of our company.
“For me, it’s a powerful reminder that our collective effort makes a difference. It’s more difficult to self-doubt when you have dozens of grateful people working with you. And I am also grateful. This mutual respect and gratitude helps me move forward and achieve even more.”
Consume Inspirational Content Regularly
“As a self-made entrepreneur, I’m no stranger to self-doubt and imposter syndrome. It’s a feeling that can be paralyzing, subconsciously leading to self-sabotaging behaviors.
“One method that I’ve found incredibly effective in overcoming self-doubt and maintaining confidence is to continuously consume inspirational content from successful entrepreneurs in my field.
“Instead of watching news or random junk on social media, I read books, watch videos, and follow social media accounts of people who have achieved success in a similar niche. By learning about their struggles, failures, and eventual triumphs, I am reminded that success is a process, everyone starts somewhere, and that self-doubt is a normal part of the journey towards success.
“This perspective helps to shift my focus away from fear and towards growth and potential, providing the motivation and confidence to continue pushing forward.”
Overcome Doubt with Personal Stories
“I know my stories. There are a bunch of folks who have read a bit, listened to a bit, and created a graph or two. But most of them haven’t sat down with real people. They don’t have a name and a story to put with their new ideas. I do because, at its core, my work is always about listening more than talking.
“So, I can pull in a story where they can only pull in a fact or a statistic. Humans are all about stories, and one story with a real person behind it is more impactful and credible than all the pithy statistics. Knowing that I have stories to tell helps me overcome a lot of the confidence or imposter pressure.”
Persist and Adapt in Difficult Times
“Being able to slog through hard times is key to being successful in the startup world. It’s important to remember that your idea is probably going to work in some way, just that it usually takes longer and is more difficult than people expect. From there, it’s just trying not to get frustrated, definitely never quitting, and sticking to the plan (or modifying the plan, if necessary).”
Identify and Act on Your Values
“When I coach people who struggle with self-confidence, we usually begin by 1) identifying the values that they find important; 2) identifying how those values are advanced or “walked out” in the initiative or idea that they are about to offer up; 3) connecting to the benefit that can come from advancing that idea or initiative; and 4) having them accept the role of the messenger for that idea, thereby advancing those values that are important to them.
“It’s an indirect way of having them be the agent of their own values, which can build a foundation for them later becoming an agent for themselves. Self-confidence is usually gained through little victories and successes, which can help overcome the fear of embarrassment or failure, in time.”
Lee Jay Berman, Principal, Leadership Consultant, Executive Coach, Leadership Development Partners
Boost Confidence through Continuous Action
“Keep your head down, put your blinders on, and get into activity. Confidence is built by taking action repeatedly. When you’re looking at others and thinking that you should have started a year ago, or five years ago, etc., you’re making it harder for yourself.
“Distract yourself by making so many calls, creating so much content, or making so many mistakes that you don’t have time to compare. Your confidence will grow.”
Practice “Micro-Accomplishments” and Positive Influence
“Overcoming self-doubt is vital in the entrepreneurial journey. A personal tip that has worked for me is the practice of “micro-accomplishments.” I’ve often found myself overwhelmed with doubt when facing a significant challenge.
“By breaking down the task into smaller, achievable goals, I focused on accomplishing each step, one at a time. With every “micro-accomplishment,” my confidence grew, and self-doubt diminished. Regularly reflecting on progress and even journaling these successes can provide a tangible reminder of how far you’ve come. Surrounding yourself with positive influences and a supportive network can also be incredibly empowering.
“The entrepreneurial path isn’t without its hurdles, but by focusing on growth, setting clear targets, and recognizing each success, you can build the confidence needed to succeed. The entrepreneurial path may seem daunting, but remember, every towering tree was once a seed that decided to grow!”