In business, confidence is absolutely critical. Successful business owners are, by definition, confident entrepreneurs. You need the confidence to start a business, to believe in your products and services, and that you’re making the right strategic decisions.
Now, being a generally confident person doesn’t necessarily translate to being a self-assured entrepreneur. Maintaining ongoing confidence in your business is simply much easier said than done. There are just so many factors at play that can shake your optimism as a business owner if you’re not prepared.
It may even deter an aspiring entrepreneur from ever starting a business in the first place. Let’s dig a bit deeper and explore why confidence is so vital for entrepreneurs, and how to build confidence in your business.
Why is confidence important for an entrepreneur?
There are specific areas where a lack of confidence can make or break your business. Let’s get you out of your comfort zone and explore how instilling confidence in yourself benefits your business.
Improves mental health
To say your mental health is vital is an understatement. Payroll, employee disputes, supply chain issues, inflation, taxes—being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. Self-doubt is already a heavy weight to bear, and when combined with all the other burdens an entrepreneur must carry mentally, it can be irreversibly crushing.
Confidence in your abilities, decisions, and business health allows an entrepreneur to rest easy when under pressure. You maintain an optimistic outlook, even amidst a crisis, which is vital for long-term success.
Encourages your employees
When you’re a business owner, you’re also a leader. Your confidence, or lack thereof, will impact how your employees perform and perceive you. The more confident you are as an entrepreneur, the more respect you hold with your employees and the more confident they will be. This helps your employees be:
- Calmer under pressure
- More willing to take on challenges
- Ready to offer feedback
- Better prepared to serve your customers
Prepares you to take on challenges
Let’s look at this scenario. You’re experiencing a large increase in orders. There’s a piece of manufacturing equipment that would dramatically increase output and help your business improve its fulfillment efficiency. However, buying this equipment wasn’t part of your initial plan and it would be your biggest purchase yet; what do you do?
Instead of fearfully dismissing the idea and saying, “Oh we just can’t afford it”, a confident entrepreneur revisits their plan, explores different financial scenarios, and finds a way to make it work. They’re willing to experiment, make adjustments, and determine if it’s a viable purchase. Sure, it’s still going to be risky, but entrepreneurship is all about taking strategic risks.
Entrepreneurs who aren’t confident often won’t take necessary risks, such as buying new equipment, and businesses that never take on new challenges will never grow. And even if you’re uncertain about a decision, you can boost your confidence with strategic planning and analysis.
Helps you accept failure
You’re going to have times when you fail. No matter how well you plan and prepare, you can’t predict the future. A market downturn, a misjudged investment, or even something small like a shipping delay can all lead to negative outcomes.
It’s easy to take failure personally. To internalize it and let it hinder your ability to grow your business. Instead, the best thing you can do is to learn from your mistakes. To use them as motivation and insights that you can reference moving forward.
Confident entrepreneurs are able to quickly turn failures into catalysts for learning and a chance to improve their businesses. The fact is that failure is an incredibly powerful teaching tool. It just requires a levelheaded perspective to realize the opportunity that it presents.
How to build confidence as an entrepreneur
Unfortunately, there is no “on switch” to immediately increase your confidence as an entrepreneur. It requires a commitment to personal growth and a firm understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses. If you’re not sure where to start, try any of the following tips.
1. Set SMART goals
How you set goals and the type of goals you set can either bolster or diminish your confidence as a business owner. To increase your chances of actually reaching business and personal milestones you should leverage the SMART framework.
Going beyond a clever-sounding acronym, setting SMART goals actually makes sense. How can you be confident about business goals that aren’t specific, measurable, or achievable? Defining exactly what you want to achieve will help you lay out tactical plans to get there, and give you the confidence to execute those plans effectively.
It also makes it far easier to pivot when you find that your goals no longer make sense, don’t match your vision, or aren’t panning out strategically. In this case, not hitting your original goal isn’t a failure, but a confident adjustment that betters your business.
2. Define your strengths and weaknesses
There’s a necessity in entrepreneurship to wear multiple hats. You’re the owner, in-house accountant, marketing specialist, customer advocate—the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re incredibly skilled in each of these roles.
You have specializations that likely drove you to start your own business. And understanding what you’re good at, what your strengths are, as well as your weaknesses, is vital to the long-term success of your business.
When you’re good at something, you’ll naturally feel more confident. On the other hand, knowing your weaknesses is the first step toward improving your skill-set as a small business owner. This knowledge will also guide you in understanding when to rely on the expertise of partners or employees.
Recommended Reading: 6 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs
3. Hire people with skills you lack
Your choice of employees often determines the success or failure of your business. You simply can’t be everywhere and do everything. It’s best to hire people who can pick up your slack and fill in the gaps where you fall short.
So while you have weaknesses, hiring the right team can help you to mitigate the impact of your shortcomings. It allows you to focus on the areas you are most skilled in while having the confidence that your team can handle the rest.
4. Find a mentor and develop a support network
Everyone needs a support system, especially entrepreneurs. Carrying the burden of responsibility can be overwhelming if you don’t have people you can reach out to for advice or just to let off some steam.
Think about people who can offer sound advice or provide a calm listening ear for those times when things don’t go according to plan. Having a support network will make it easier for you to persevere during tough times where your confidence will be tested the most.
Keep in mind, that your support system should include a mentor—someone who has experienced their own entrepreneurial journey and knows exactly what you’re going through. Connect with other local business owners, and reach out to advising groups, or even previous investors. You’ll be surprised how willing people are to share their experiences and wisdom with you.
5. Celebrate your successes
You hit that sales milestone, locked in funding, or launched a new product—that means it’s time to celebrate. That doesn’t mean that you have to take your staff to a bar and have a drinking contest that results in everybody calling in sick the next day. You just need to acknowledge the win in a meaningful way.
Look at your finances, determine a reasonable budget, and plan an event that reflects the values of your staff and business. A catered party with food and music? Employee BBQ at the beach? Maybe you even send out gift cards as a thank you.
Do something that shows how much you value the work that went into the victory. That success doesn’t just impact your business but the employees that make it happen. Even if that just means you, as the sole employee, at the start.
6. Dress for confidence
As cliche as it might seem, “dress for success” is a reality in business. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to spend exorbitant amounts of money on three-piece suits, fancy watches, and leather shoes. No, it means that you dress in a fashion that you feel most comfortable with and that best reflects the style and culture of your business.
There’s a reason that hoodies and jeans have become the standard for startups and tech companies. It’s more about feeling comfortable and confident in what you do.
Recommended Reading: 12 Types of Entrepreneurs Explained
7. Find a healthy stress reliever
Stress can be a truly damaging element of running a business. It causes both a physical and mental toll that can derail your business and your confidence. You need to be able to manage your stress and have an outlet where you find relief in.
Regular exercise, therapy, walking meetings, cooking, cleaning—really anything can be a stress reliever. And having an outlet that you can fall back on consistently also ensures that you retain a healthy work-life balance. A crucial aspect of ownership that will reflect on your employees as well.
8. Embrace your mission
Why did you start a business? Did you want more time for your family? Do you aspire to change the world? Maybe you just wanted financial freedom?
Whatever your reason, it’s what drives you as an entrepreneur and it directly influences your company’s mission. Focusing on your mission will help you to stay grounded during the inevitable challenges of running a business. It should be a constant reminder of why you’ve started your business and the importance of making it a success.
Having this mindset should help prevent you from being sidetracked, and overshadow any distractions or doubts that may still linger. As with most things, it will also help inspire and drive your employees as well. Giving them something to get behind and push for as their own source of motivation.
9. Improve your skills
Your weaknesses can hinder your performance. Do you just accept them and settle for being weak in a given area? Or do you face the challenges head-on and try to improve them?
Confident entrepreneurs don’t just acknowledge their weaknesses, they take action to improve their skills, turning them into strengths. Luckily, information and training are so readily available, that there is literally nothing you can’t know or learn. Take an online course, read books, listen to podcasts—whatever format that you find works with your schedule and that you can easily learn from.
You should also encourage your employees to do the same. Make it part of their goals and workload, set milestones around professional development, and provide financial backing for them to do it. The more you invest in them the more they’ll invest in your business.
10. Make big decisions
Throughout the life of your business, you’ll be faced with plenty of big decisions. Should you bring on a new employee, purchase that piece of equipment, launch a new product, open a new location—the list goes on and on. And a key quality of successful entrepreneurs is the ability to make sound decisions when facing difficult situations.
Confident entrepreneurs seize the moment. They review the data, explore their options, and attempt to make well-informed strategic action. Making tough decisions hardens their resolve, increasing their belief in themselves and their businesses.
11. Review your plan
One of the best ways to improve your confidence is preparation. Today, being prepared in business requires regular planning and reliance on data, not just gut feelings or instinct, to make better decisions.
Entrepreneurs that take the time to plan, can be far more proactive in a crisis. During regular plan reviews, they are able to more easily recognize potential risks and jump on exciting opportunities. By creating and reviewing your plan, you are far more informed and prepared to confidently lead your business, make better decisions, and ultimately achieve growth.
Recommended Reading: How to Conduct a Monthly Plan Review
Are you confident enough?
Do you think you have the confidence needed to be an entrepreneur? If not, don’t let that stop you. The beauty of running a business is that it’s an ongoing process that will have its ups and downs. You’ll have extensive opportunities to grow, educate yourself, and ultimately become more confident in yourself and your business idea.
If you’re still unsure of your capabilities as a business owner, check out what it typically takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Having these traits in mind can help guide your journey as you explore starting, managing, and growing your own business.