Woodrow Wilson certainly didn't know in the midst of World War I that we would end up victorious, but it was his responsibility to lead and command our country at a perilous time. Entrepreneurship requires a very similar mindset: You must lead a team and inspire belief in a vision of success, regardless of any personal doubt you may feel.
Confidence is in the job description. But does it always come easily, automatically, or even naturally? No. Confidence is a leadership skill: It can be learned, practiced, and implemented effectively.
You might go through a myriad of feelings throughout the course of the day, but from the vantage point of an outside observer, you should appear to have exactly one: confidence. At times you might feel like you're on a personal roller coaster. It happens. It's a fact of life. But when you are on the escalator, walking to and from your office, in the break room, at the coffee counter, or any other place in public view, you must look pleasant, calm, and in control.
Here's the good news: Research shows that if you put a smile on your face, you actually do feel happier. Think "fake it till you make it," When Harry Met Sally allusions aside. (We're just talking work here... How you choose to behave in the privacy of a restaurant booth is up to you.)
Forge ahead of fear
I speak live on the national news as a business correspondent. After a dozen years on Wall Street, it frankly takes a lot to scare me, but the first time I went on TV I was completely terrified. Heart racing, major jitters in the green room--the works. Yet I knew that the cameras would soon roll, no matter how I felt.
So I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself to "fake it till you make it." Within a few minutes my first appearance was, if not stellar, at least over and done with.
You may be worried about making payroll, anxious about securing another round of funding, or nervous for a new product launch. Whatever you might be afraid of, remember this: The opposite of confidence is fear. As an entrepreneur, you don't have the luxury of fear--publicly, at least. As President Wilson had a country depending on him, other people's livelihoods depend on you.
An inventor's job is to create the impossible. Roadblocks, hurdles, hoops to jump through--these are a given in any entrepreneurial journey, but a challenge never stops a successful entrepreneur from setting her sights high. Neither should fear keep you tethered to the ground when you need to make a leap forward for your business.
Of course, you can't fly until you take off. When it's time, you have to jump.