- March 28, 2019
- Posted by: Startup Desk
- Category: Articles
Earlier this month, I wrote about how women and men with similar backgrounds have very different confidence levels — and how women tend to question their ability to successfully start a company. Despite evidence that female led companies tend to outperform their competitors, women often face a confidence crisis that can hinder them when dealing with some of the scarier entrepreneurial leaps required to move a startup forward.
Psychologists insist that confidence is a learned behavior, with many courses, books and other self-help tools available for those looking to bolster their “skills” in this area. In my personal experience, hearing what works from our peers can make a big difference. The following are top tips from five entrepreneurs about what works for them.
- Know your worth
“The best tip I have for being confident professionally is knowing your own worth,” says Misha Kaura, a 26-year-old luxury fashion designer. “When applied, this means sitting up straight, looking people in the eye, giving a firm handshake, charging what you deserve, maintaining a positive attitude — and keeping a private victory log of things you’ve done well. These simple changes have done wonders for my confidence, productivity, and overall happiness levels, and have helped me get to the absolute top of my profession.”
- Get things done
Dave Bowden, author of an Amazon best-seller about building confidence for shy men, stresses the power of the “ Getting Things Done Method”. “The best way to feel confident at work is to feel like you’re in complete control of your tasks and deliverables,” Bowden says. “Having strong command of your schedule and knowing exactly what needs to be done – and when – makes you feel competent, confident and in control. The best system for staying on top of everything that I’ve found is David Allen’s Getting Things Done method. While it can get fairly complicated, it’s fundamentally about writing everything down in one place: every to-do, every project, every task and every stray thought relevant to your work. Systems like Trello and other apps make this even easier, and help you stay on top of your responsibilities. The simple act of recording everything you have to do in one place removes anxiety and imbues you with control — and confidence.”
- Dress the part
“Dressing to kill is a confidence-booster,” says Steve Pritchard from Africa Travel. “If you look good, you feel good. In many companies there’s still a dress code, so make sure you look the part. Put effort into looking presentable and smart, every day. Looking professional will make you feel professional, and while this may be a superficial fix to your confidence issue, it is beneficial because it communicates confidence to others. Looking disheveled and uncomfortable affects those around you negatively. They may even treat you with less respect than they would if you were better dressed. If your company doesn’t have a dress code or insists on casual wear, make sure you are well-groomed and presentable, every single day. This will encourage you to walk with confidence and hold your head up high.”
- Don’t look outward for approval
Serial entrepreneur Syed Irfan Ajmal — who boasts a 100% success rate for building self-funded and profitable small businesses — says he used to be very externally motivated. “For years, starting from adolescence, I was hungry for permission and approval of others (family, friends, etc.) before doing anything. That’s how I kept on doing jobs I didn’t like; I was told entrepreneurship wouldn’t be a smart choice. What I’ve learned through my own struggle is that you can’t expect others to understand what’s right for you. Don’t seek permission. Don’t seek appreciation. If your heart is telling you something, it’s probably right. As leading psychologist and author Daniel Goleman says, ‘Your gut instinct’s data is valuable.’”
- The mind body connection is real
“Ever since leaving school I had a pocket full of business ideas and the drive to get the businesses started, but the one thing I lacked was confidence,” recalls Nicholas Smith, Founder and Director of CompareNewTyres.com. “I tried reading self-help books, getting out and meeting new people, trying to build my confidence. But genuine confidence just seemed to evade me, until I started a new hobby. I was about 27 or 28 years of age and I started going to my local gym and running on the treadmill. I started by doing half a mile, a mile, then two miles — and I went two or three times a week. With every gym session, my sense of accomplishment and confidence grew. I’d set myself goals and every time I achieved a new milestone, my confidence grew some more. Although I’d started many businesses in the past, none were successful. I started CompareNewTyres.com around the same time I started going to the gym, and success went hand in hand with my new found confidence. I’d achieve a milestone at the gym and that helped me meet a business goal, which would in turn help me do better at the gym. My hobby helped boost my confidence, and my business thrived.
Jaime Pfeffer, success coach and author points out that one does not even need the gym to build this connection “Walk with confidence and use Power Poses,” Pfeffer suggests. “Pull your shoulders back, hold your head up high, and fake it ’til you make it. Research shows ‘acting as if’ can signal your brain to feel confident, even if you don’t feel it quite yet. If you have not seen it, you should check out Amy Cuddy’s TedTalk on the effects of power poses, which explains that body language can dramatically affect a person’s level of confidence.”
These five tips can help new entrepreneurs avoid the pitfalls of anxiety and lack of personal power, and tap into proven techniques that enhance confidence and contribute to success.