5 Ways to Protect Your Entrepreneurial Confidence

image of domo as a luchador

I know I told you your audience was your most important business asset. And I stand by that — if we’re talking about something that exists outside of yourself.

But there’s an internal, mental asset that you need to develop and protect if you’re going to do all the rest of it. (Develop your audience, produce top-notch content that solves real problems, make compelling offers, grow and sustain a great business.)

Business coach Dan Sullivan has said that as business owners, our greatest duty is to protect our own confidence.

Because the reality is: the most successful rockstar ninja business badass you know — that one who seems fearless and unstoppable — has days when their confidence wobbles.

(If they don’t, by the way, they’re not playing their highest game.)

Confidence naturally ebbs and flows — but it’s a skill that you can improve.

The big distinction here is to see confidence as an ability that you keep getting better at. ~Dan Sullivan


Can’t see the video? Click here to watch it on YouTube.


Here are some ways I’ve found to protect my own confidence as a business owner.

#1: Make space to create

Confidence tends to come not from “pumping yourself up” with hypey self-motivation, but from actually doing something cool.

And in order to do something cool, you need “Doing Cool Stuff” time in your calendar. Ideally, every day for at least an hour.

If you don’t live in an ideal world, see how close to that you can get. If it’s 15 minutes, make those 15 epically focused minutes, and knock them out every day.

A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules. ~ Anthony Trollope

#2: Spend as much time as possible on your bright spots

I happen to think there are real rewards that come from working on things you are not yet awesome at.

However.

Working on and refining your bright spots is the shortest path to doing and making cool stuff.

If it gives you juice and you have a passion for it, you’re probably pretty damned good at it. Do more of that.

#3: Hold a Q&A call

Think you don’t have much to offer? Hold a free Q&A call for your audience. (There are any number of free conference call services out there that will work well for this.) Post the details on your blog and to your email list. Drive traffic to the session with whatever social media channels you run in.

Shift the focus off of yourself and your own crisis of confidence, and onto the people you help. When you actually help other people get what they want, your confidence will strengthen in a way that is very hard to shake.

#4: Be careful about social media

Oh, you’re a blogger? What do you complain about? ~ Julien Smith

Back in the day, we thought that near-universal adoption of “virtual community” and social technology would bring about world peace, an end to hunger, and a permanent cure for social awkwardness.

Oops.

We human beings use social media just like we’ve used every other communication channel in history — we bitch. And whine. And blame. And snipe. And snark. And shame.

None of this is good fuel for confidence. When you’re in a confidence slump, consider a social media break for a few days while you focus on more positive activities.

#5: Measure yourself against yourself

This is another one from Dan Sullivan — when you’re measuring your accomplishments, don’t put them against an ideal or an idol.

You may in fact surpass everything your early idol ever accomplished. Will that make you feel awesome? No, because your focus will shift to something new that’s out of reach.

Compare yourself to where you’ve been. Compare what you did this year to what you did last year, or where you were five years ago.

Look at the growth and improvements that you’ve made, not at an image of perfection that you’ve projected onto someone else. (That image may have, by the way, nothing in the world to do with reality.)

How about you?

We all have habits and techniques to break us out of a confidence funk. What are your favorites?

I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Creative Commons post image by kennymatic

(p.s. Thanks to my Platypuses for the inspiration.)

About the author

Sonia Simone


Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .

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Comments

  1. As always, thanks for a great post, Sonia.

    You shed light on an important debate, I think, namely: the inside-out vs outside-in approach to life. The first is proactive, the second is reactive. This makes such a big difference (especially to our confidence).

    Based on your recommendation, I bought and read “Mindset” by Stanford psychologist Carol S Dweck. The book goes into more detail on how we can cultivate a growth mindset to change the way we view ourselves. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested in learning more about protecting your confidence.

    Focus on the bright spots :)

    Cheers,
    Olle

  2. Ignore anyone who is a bad fit for your business.

    That means turning off notices of unsubscribes from your email list. I almost lost out on my biggest campaign ever because it was also the most amount of unsubscribes I ever received.

    That means filtering “bounces” from your web traffic. Why allow people who were not interested in even a second page of your site to jack up your averages in Google Analytics? That’s like judging your romantic life by measuring every person you’ve dated and every person you’ve ever been attracted too. The latter metric will make you feel like a loser.

  3. Thanks Sonia. A reminder I needed.

  4. Hi Sonia,

    First-time reader, already a fan!

    I couldnt agree more on this article, especially on this very phrase ” Confidence naturally ebbs and flows — but it’s a skill that you can improve. ”

    It’s very important for people (entrepreneur or not) to realize that the lack of confidence is not something one cannot get rid of . Like any other skill , confidence is something that can be improved , and mastered .

    There is this speech on Ted.com , about how one can improve its confidence by following this little gimmick that is ” fake it , till you become it ” . I don’t want to to spam , so I’ll let you search for this speech on Ted website , but I highly recommand it since it is really inspiring.

  5. I agree that confidence is an internally generated asset . But sometimes a person needs it kick-started a little before it takes off. Coaches and mentors, such as Mr. Sullivan and you, Sonia, are invaluable.

    “The man of genius inspires us with boundless confidence in our own powers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

    We are not solitary creatures…individuals, yes; but ones who thrive in community. Alone, we accomplish much.

    But together, confidence compounds and mounts up to push us onward, gaining a powerful momentum that our lonely brothers and sisters may never realize, and envy.

    The army calls it force multiplication. I believe it was Stephen Covey that popularized the term “synergy” – the sum of the whole is greater than its parts.

    Kind regards,
    Dustin

    • Agree — I am reminded of a proverb that Sean d’Souza likes, “To go fast, go alone. To go far, go with a group.”

      Coaches and community are invaluable for helping with those tough days, in my experience …

  6. So much of staying confident is fighting your own Resistance.

    Watch one episode of the Dog Whisperer and see that your Resistance is like a dog.

    Be a dog’s master or it will fill the void and master you.

    Thanks again Sonia!

    Dave

  7. Hi Sonia,

    The number two point is my favourite. According to Zig Ziglar, he said ‘don’t abandon the winning formula’… I quite agree with him.

    It is better to hone your skill and improve on what you know how to do and have real interest on.

    • #2 is a great point … focus on your strengths. Maximize what you’re good at as opposed to spending time trying to fix and improve the things we naturally struggle with or don’t have an interest. When you use your strengths you feel more confident.

      • #2 is positively powerful, especially when you see it in action. I’m often inspired by high achievers’ answers to journalists’ questions, especially in sports. High achievers – obviously masters at #2 – focus on strengths (theirs) always, even in defeat. A prime example would be Roger Federer. To questions about how bad he must have felt losing that point, set or match, Federer invariably speaks about the strong points, the things he did right, that he thinks will come in handy next time he plays.

  8. Ed Van Hooydonk :

    Sonia,

    Hi. Thanks for a great post. I found Copyblogger this week and I find the content to be very helpful. I believe in the philosophy of “bright spots” and strive to work them in my life, each day. Some better than others!

    Thank you!

    Ed

  9. Great post Sonia,

    Brilliant reminder to inject confidence in advance (even when you don’t feel like it) by accessing tools and strength you already have!

    Thank you.

    Kind Regards

    Ravi

  10. Great post on confidence!

    I break out of a confidence funk by reading the testimonials on my website. Also, I created a “Great Job and Thank You” file where I place emails from clients and colleagues. I read and re-read what they wrote. Before I know it, my confidence is re-booted, and I feel like nothing or no one can stop me. :)

  11. Great Post.

    I always try to focus on what can be, instead of what was and what is. We can’t change the stats that are right now, but we can work on changing them for tomorrow.

    To remind myself that there is more to gain then to lose works always.

    Cheers.

  12. Sonia, number two is so creative – my brain is churning!!! Thank you! :D

  13. What an awesome post! I had been doing that stuff – but sneakily, on the sly, worried about what my friends and family would think. Hehe!

  14. Sonia, I like this post. Great video too! Glad to have the importance of my inner confidence validated by your post. hahaha…see what I did there?

    Seriously, even when we have the proper inside-out viewpoint, we all need methods and suggestions that help us maintain and protect confidence.

  15. I see why you would single out “Entrepreneurial Confidence” for headline
    purposes, but as your post implies, a rose by any other name is still a rose.

    My favorite on your list is number 5 – do not measure/compare yourself to others. Love others, always works. Trust others, sometimes. Compare yourself to others, never. Instead of looking for comparison, look for inspiration.

    Confidence-boosting techniques may work for some people for some of the time, yet all the will power and positive thinking in the world cannot produce change and success if they don’t match what’s constantly directing the confidence mechanism – our self-image. At least it’s my experience. “To change this picture through time-proven methods is so easy and so clear to each of us that it’s no wonder that we overlook them” – not anymore, since your post reminds us of their existence :-] (the quote is from The New Psycho-Cybernetics).

    Part of the challenge is that many mix up personality with self-image, but they’re not the same. Personality is who you are. We didn’t choose it – if you did you probably have a soft spot for the metaphysical. Isn’t it amazing when in a room full of newborns, to see that each already has their personality? So personality ought to be part of #2 on your list, #2: Spend as much time as possible on your bright spots

    By contrast, Self-image, two separate words morphed into one, says it all. If only all of language were this concise …

    Anyhow, other time-proven methods that work for me, my daily power questions (picked up from Tony Robbins) and short meditation on 3 things I’m grateful for and 3 things I didn’t complain about. That last part in particular depends on whether I was stuck in traffic that day or not :-]

  16. Pay as much attention to the compliments as to the critical comments. If you get 59 positive comments and one nasty one, you might find yourself focusing on that one. Just noticing how many more people said good things than bad things can be a confidence booster.

  17. Confidence is a tough one. Many times the doubts come in the middle of the night and can erode even the best attempts at sleep. For me, when I’m feeling down, a trip to the local coffee shop and a little caffeine usually brightens the day. It’s hearing the conversations and the churn of commerce that lifts me up. It’s actually seeing my audience that helps me realize the effort to write and create everyday is really worth it.

  18. Good stuff, Sonia. I like the point about comparing yourself only to yourself. Especially in the marketing and SEO world, it can be difficult to NOT judge one’s self again others. Measure everything internally. If you accomplish a goal that has been alluding for for quite some time, take some time to pat yourself on the back rather than being underwhelmed because someone else got there first.

  19. I really like how you mentioned being careful on social media. I try to tell my readers than anything said online can and will be used against their blogs and communities. If how you act can make it online in any way, you need to act in the most professional manner, possible. Good post!

  20. Having confidence is monumental, without it you’re screwed. Simple as that!

    The key to your brand making or breaking is how much you believe in it. How much you believe in it will get it from A-Z and that is all. You will encounter so many ups, downs, challenges, failures and fallings than I can explain. If you cannot make it through those, having the best of anything won’t supplement that!

    Ryan

  21. I love going on a long walk listening to Tony Robbins…

  22. Love this. Excellent timing. Great job.

    Glen

  23. I realized and used the 1st, 2nd and 5th. 3 and 4 are pretty interesting and catchy. I will bear that in mind!

    Thanks for useful tips!

    With appreciation