02.28.18

3 Ways Women Can Overcome Imposter Syndrome

KARL R. LAPAN, PRESIDENT & CEO, THE NIIC

Entrepreneurs often suffer from imposter syndrome—and it makes sense. Last year, I wrote a blog discussing Imposter Syndrome. As you might recall, I shared that several studies of successful people show between 40-70% feel like an imposter range at one time or another. In both the research on gender in entrepreneurship and in my interactions with women entrepreneurs (especially when they are thinking of leaving a large stable employer), they are often told no more times than yes. When this happens, it’s easy to doubt one’s abilities and to have a self-induced crisis in your confidence levels when the system and the support system appears stacked against you. A key barrier/obstacle identified by our Women’s Economic Opportunity Center is overcoming the confidence gap for women so they start and grow businesses faster.

Here are three ways WEOC and the NIIC work with women entrepreneurs to better build their business, and advocate for themselves:

  1. Lean into pivots. In many studies of female entrepreneurship, the fear of failure is the top concern of women who launch startups. However, pivots are learnings, insights, a-ha moments and not failures. It is a part of life and business. The problem is that many professional women live in constant fear of failing because of society’s negative messaging. But failure in and of itself doesn’t define an entrepreneur; it’s an opportunity to dust ourselves off and grow.
  2. Be exceptional—and own it. It’s tough to ignore someone who’s making waves. Gain positive attention (suggested principles are noted in the attached HBR article) by embracing opportunities, leaning into learning moments, taking calculated risks and managing uncertainties.
  3. Rise to the occasion. The next time you feel challenged, remind yourself it isn’t just about confidence, as the HBR article opines, “it is about the purpose and concentrate on the unique perspective you bring.” Gender doesn’t define you; your experience, your passion, purpose, and expertise do. In fact, every asset of your professional life should be a chance for you to showcase your unique talents and gifts. Seize opportunities to assert your entrepreneurial voice by publishing articles, writing op-eds, serving on task forces and boards and speaking at conferences. In time, your voice and thought leadership will be recognized and sought out as an authority.

The next time you feel a twinge of imposter syndrome, focus on maximizing your strengths and silencing that voice in your head. Also, know that there are resources available, like WEOC, to help you cut through the clutter and boost confidence.

From ideation and startup through growth and expansion, WEOC was designed to understand and respond to the unique needs of women entrepreneurs. We do this through business growth coaching, training and entrepreneurial education, connectivity and access to capital.

We help you define your unique pathway then provide resources and connectivity for your venture’s success using our proprietary and trademarked Entrepreneurial Pathway – Assess. Discover. Do.™

If you’re ready to get started, take the next step and schedule a meeting with a business coach. Better yet, meet our new incoming WEOC Director, Leslee Hill.

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