Confidence is a hallmark of successful entrepreneurs. At least that's the way it looks from the outside.
Studies show that up to 70 percent of high-achieving people have experienced Impostor Syndrome at least one time in their career.
If you're not careful, feeling like a fraud will prevent you from doing the important work that's required to advance your company. And that's no good.
Here are five simple things you can do to stop feeling like a fraud, so you can channel your energy to something more productive, like growing your business:
1. Focus your energy on the people you're serving
I bet you've heard plenty of stories about ordinary people who've accomplished great physical feats to save someone else in danger. Here's one where a young lady lifted a car to save her dad who was trapped underneath. In that moment, all her energy was focused on doing what she needed to do to save the other person.
As you work on your business, you need to do the same. Channel all your attention on your customers, the people your business is serving. When your thoughts are consumed with how you can help them, there will be no time to think about how inadequate you may feel about your abilities.
2. Get around a solid group of peers
Many entrepreneurs struggle with Impostor Syndrome as a result of working alone. When you don't have others to bounce ideas off of or to hold you accountable, it can be easy to get caught up in irrational thoughts in your head.
Dr. Valerie Young, who studies Impostor Syndrome, suggests connecting with other entrepreneurs regularly as a fix. Here's how she explained it to me:
"I think a really simple thing that people can do, Sonia, is to find another business owner. They don't even have to be in your same field or arena.
A friend of mine does this. Every Monday morning, they have a business call. It's 45 minutes and they each take turns talking about 'this is what I'm doing this week, these are my goals, these are my challenges.' Just to have that other person to talk things through with can be tremendously helpful."
3. Say your feelings out loud
Acknowledging your fears verbally takes the sting away. It robs them of some of the power they hold over you.
If you want to multiply the positive impact of this exercise, share your feelings with a trusted friend. Go to them and say "I feel like a fraud."
If they don't laugh at you or tell you you're being ridiculous, they can help give you some additional concrete reasons why your fears are not reality.
4. Keep a 'good job' file
Every time someone writes you an email or expresses appreciation for having helped them make life better, save it. If they tell you verbally, make a point of writing it down when you have a moment.
These external reminders of how you have added value to others will come in handy on those days when you struggle most with confidence in your abilities, or not feeling good enough.
The testimonials will give you cold, hard, data to combat the negative emotions that try to keep you from moving forward.
5. Immerse yourself in your work
Kyle Eschenroeder, co-founder of StartUp Bros, had this to say when I asked him how entrepreneurs could overcome feeling like a fraud:
"Fill up your space with doing that thing so much that you don't have any time to even think about whether you're good enough at it or not. Just do the stuff."
So if you're a writer, write. If you're a designer, design. If you're a teacher, teach. Just do the work. Lose yourself in it. And you'll lose the negative thoughts as a result.
No one is 100 percent confident all the time. That isn't the goal you're striving for. The key is to appropriately deal with feelings of self-doubt, so they don't prevent you from growing your business.
The next time impostor feelings creep into your head, use one or more of these strategies to move past it, so you can do the work your customers need you to do.