Do you worry that your service or product isn't good enough? This is something I see a lot with start-up businesses and entrepreneurs. It even has a name...Impostor Syndrome.
How do you know you've got Impostor Syndrome?Here are some of the signs...• Self-doubt• Comparing yourself to others• Fear and anxiety• Hard to accept compliments, deep down you feel you are not worthy• Inability to enjoy success as you feel like it’s a fluke• Holding yourself back from achieving
Does that sound like you?Let me tell you a secret, I suffered from impostor syndrome myself when I started my business.I was brought up in a working class family in Clydebank, Scotland. I thought only tradesmen and the “well to do” had their own businesses. I was neither. Working for myself had never really crossed my mind.
I wanted to start my own business sharing my knowledge and experience of doing what I do best - sales. I knew I could sell. Deep down, I knew I could achieve anything I wanted to achieve, but what if someone caught me out. What if they could tell I wasn’t a sales trainer? I feared that other people were probably better than me. I feared that I was an impostor!!
So how did I beat impostor syndrome?
1 - ResearchI spent 15 years selling advertising to small businesses. During the tough times, when the phone stopping ringing, they didn’t know how to proactively sell.
From my experience I had a good idea that small businesses had a need, a problem, that I could help them solve. But it was just an idea.
So I did a survey with my old clients to find out more and check that I was on the right track. The survey confirmed there was a need for sales training in small business and it helped me learn more about my potential market.
2 - USPMine was based on my experience of hospitality management and sales. It gave me my vision to teach businesses that “When it’s delivered correctly, sales and customer service is exactly the same thing.” If you don’t have a vision, I suggest you get one. It will give you a strong sense of purpose which can help to overcome impostor syndrome.
3 - Competition This is one of the most important steps and one of the things that really holds people back. You find yourself asking why would anyone choose me when they could go to all these other companies. Everyone has competition.
Look at Coca Cola, they are the market leader, but does it stop Pepsi, and other soft drinks? No of course it doesn’t. Competition is a good sign - it means there is a market for what you do. It's good for consumers too. It keeps businesses on their toes, being innovative and creative.
The challenge is to figure out what you do differently to your competitors? Knowing what makes you different will help ask better questions to potential clients. It helps them understand you're the one for them.
4 - PriceThis was a tricky area for me. Service industry costing is a bit like buying a house, it's worth what someone is prepared to pay.
The cost of a sale revolves around how much you value your time. If you don’t value your time you'll under charge.Products are easier to calculate as you can do it on margins - just make sure you include all of the costs.
For me, I asked other consultants in similar fields what they charged and based it on that. After a little more research, I realised I was charging less than other sales trainers, so I felt more comfortable about increasing my prices.
If you're feeling anxious about charging more for your time, ask yourself "what value am I delivering to my client?"And remember you can always negotiate down, but never up, so start higher than you want.
5 - Don't wait for perfectionYou need to be happy with your product or service before you can sell it, but if you wait for it to be perfect you'll be waiting forever. It's easy to find excuses why you're not ready to start selling.
For me I wanted a case study for my website. That was my crutch. Until I had it, I didn’t feel I could sell my services. I soon got over this when I met a man at an event who wanted me to train his recruitment sales team.
The next blocker I came up with was that I had no slides or format to train them with! Even now I still feel my slides could be better, but it hasn’t held me back from building a successful company. I know the strength in my product is me, not what’s on the slides.
By using your strengths efficiently it will also help you believe your service is good enough.
6 - Build a strong networkBeing an entrepreneur can be very lonely at times. It comes with extreme highs, but also difficult lows. I'd be lying if I said it never crossed my mind to jack it all in and get a “proper job”.
For me even from day one, I had a business coach to help keep me on track. She listened to me and helped me remember the reasons I started the company in the first place, and why small businesses need me to help them to survive. It would have been down right rude of me to leave them in their time of need!
Why do your customers need you? Always remember this, it will see you through your darkest hour.
7 - Recruit the right peopleSurrounding yourself with the wrong people makes you doubt yourself. That makes you doubt the service you provide, which affects your confidence when it comes to selling. Since I expanded my team, I've been blessed with a great team who have helped me take the company from strength to strength.
Having the right team around you makes you more productive and brings in fresh ideas that can improve the services you offer. Expanding my team has made it possible to create an online version of the Easy Peasy Sales course. And now we're working on a monthly membership plan so we can help people even more.
8 - Get off the hamster wheel!Make time to work on the business, not just in the business. I see so many business owners spending all their time doing the short-term work that pays the money. They can’t find the time to make their product or service better. If you want to feel more confident about what you're selling, you need to make time to improve it.
Often this is down to poor time management. We use a tool called Trello, which helps us share and organise tasks in flexible ways. This helps us capture ideas, keep things on track and allows us time to plan our next innovative move.
9 - Share what your customers thinkTestimonials are a very powerful way to reassure potential customers that you're a good choice. Make sure you read and digest the positive feedback. They are saying wonderful things about YOU, not someone else. You are not an impostor in their eyes.
Only yesterday I had feedback from a client who is now being stocked in Boots, who says without my help it would never have happened. This gives me oomph to continue doing what I do, because it has a great impact on other people’s businesses.
If you don’t have testimonials from your clients, I highly recommend you get them in both video and written format. All you have to do is ask.
10 - Set Goals
Goals are ultra-important in a small business. They are the things which drive you on to overcome your fears.Without them you will flounder, and lose focus. Without focus you will doubt yourself, and feel like other people are better than you. The more goals you achieve the more confidence you will gain. You'll soon start to believe that you are not an impostor you are the “real deal”.
Goals are personal and can take the shape of material or non-material things. They should also be short, medium and long. For me a short-term, material goal was to get a status car, I now drive a white shiny Jaguar XF.A non-material goal was going to 10 Downing Street. Long term, I have some super-duper goals which I'll share when I hit them.
What are your goals? What are you going to do differently?
If you follow my tips, you'll find yourself doing things differently. You'll overcome impostor syndrome.
If you dig deep you fill find the confidence, you need to BELIEVE in yourself and your product or service.