As an entrepreneur, a lack of confidence could be one of the most significant challenges you will ever face. From making excuses for inaction to falling into a depressed state, everyone handles confidence issues differently. Either way, the fear of failure that's associated with a lack of confidence affects not only your personal world but dictates whether or not your business grows to meet your vision.
Confidence issues affect not only new entrepreneurs but can also cause problems for business owners who have a good deal of success under their belts. Recognizing that you are not alone may help you to view failure differently.
Bolstering your self-confidence will not protect you from failure, it will give you the strength to create success from it.
These words of wisdom from Bill Gates remind us of this, and more.
"Don't compare yourself with anyone in this world. If you do so, you are insulting yourself."
Constant comparison is undoubtedly a sign that one's confidence runs low. When I began coaching entrepreneurs, I made the mistake of following the career of many successful coaches. For an entire year, I allowed these comparisons to hold me back as I doubted my ability with a growing vengeance. Then one day, I realized that I would never be like any of those other coaches. Instead, I would find the confidence to be myself. That's all it took; within months I had enough clients to support my household, and my business continued to grow from there.
You have unique thoughts, talents, and abilities. If all entrepreneurs approached life and business in the same way, we would have fewer success stories. Zero in on your strengths through self-examination rather than comparison.
"Life is not fair. Get used to it."
In other words, things don't go completely as planned for anyone--even Bill Gates. Gates dropped out of Harvard and closed his failing business, Traf-O-Data, soon after that. At the arrival of the public internet, Gates is said to have underestimated its influence and failed to keep Windows and Microsoft's systems strategy at the forefront. This, according to former Microsoft Senior Vice President Brad Silverberg.
Gates struggled with how to respond to the internet of all things, but he clearly recovered from this failure. If you had such a lapse in judgment, how would you handle it? Don't allow an error in thinking to prevent your success. This leads us to the next piece of advice from Gates.
"It's fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure."
It's not only fine to celebrate success; it's imperative to your future success. As Gates implies here, every entrepreneur will experience failure. Sadly, those who struggle with confidence tend to view failure as an end rather than a beginning.
Celebrate your successes along the way to reinforce the good, then take failure head-on. Use your natural curiosity, rather than self-criticism and doubt, to review what led to the failure and base your next steps on lessons learned. The classroom of life is the best teacher.
"If you don't build your dream, someone else will hire you to build theirs."
Entrepreneurs don't make good employees. Allow your dream to inspire you rather than frighten you. One of the things that hold entrepreneurs back is a (sometimes subconscious) concern of losing hope. As long as you keep your dream at a distance, you can have hope. If you attempt to achieve success and fail, all hope is lost. At least that's what those who lack confidence believe. The truth is that your vision will improve with each failed experience. If you are creative enough to have developed a marketable concept, you're smart enough to pivot and allow your ideas to evolve.
Be your unique self, and don't shy aware from emotional risks. Evaluate financial risks carefully and seek input from qualified resources. If you don't fail, it only means that you haven't tried to succeed.