As an entrepreneur, confidence is everything. But if you’re just starting out, it can be hard to develop it naturally. In this guide, we’ll explore how to build confidence as an entrepreneur, to help you acclimate to your new role with poise and conviction.
How to build confidence:
Entrepreneur confidence is valuable for several reasons (and in a variety of situations).
Confident leaders are better able to persuade investors, clients and partners. They’re generally regarded as more authoritative and trustworthy by their employees, making them more effective as team leaders and managers.
Plus, when you’re confident, you'll make better decisions, you’ll be more assertive in negotiations, and there’s a good chance you’ll be more likable — which can help you in networking events and personal endeavors alike.
But if you’ve never run a business before, you’re less likely to feel immediately comfortable — and confident — in the role. You may not be sure about your decisions or feel nervous about asserting your opinion since you don’t have decades of experience to back it up.
Fortunately, for new entrepreneurs, a combination of confidence-building exercises and ongoing experience can help you learn how to build the confidence you need.
13 confidence-building exercises:
Try using these confidence builders to feel more comfortable in your role, and sure of yourself in your work, meetings, and other opportunities:
1. Project confidence: Fake it ‘til you make it
Our brain functions are complex and interesting. We believe that everything we do is rooted in thought, beginning as an idea or emotion and getting translated as action.
But the reverse can also be true.
For example, when you’re happy, you tend to smile; but when you’re feeling neutral or unhappy and you smile, the very act of smiling can actually make you feel happier.
A similar effect can happen with confidence.
If you don’t feel sure of yourself, try to project confidence in any way you can:
Speak with authority
Maintain strong body language
Convince yourself that you’re confident
It’s a way to “fake it until you make it.” In time, you can basically trick yourself into believing in yourself.
2. Admit your failures and let go of small mistakes
Nothing wrecks a new entrepreneur’s confidence faster than a mistake, failure, or other missteps in your business.
You failed to meet a deadline, you lost a client, or your financial models aren’t coming to fruition.
If you want to feel more confident, you have to be willing to admit these mistakes, and learn to let them go.
Avoiding the subject, blaming external factors, or dwelling on your own faults can all make your uncertainty worse.
Obviously, there’s no switch to make you instantly feel better about your mistakes, but it helps to know that failure is common even among successful entrepreneurs.
The faster you come to terms with the fact that some mistakes are inevitable, the faster you can move on.
3. Reflect on and appreciate your past accomplishments
If you find yourself ruminating on your past failures or mistakes, try to shift the narrative.
Spend more time thinking about the things you’ve done well in the past, whether they were in your current role as entrepreneur and team leader or in a previous career.
This does a few things for you:
It helps you recognize the true balance of your past efforts. When you dwell too much on mistakes, you begin to think that you commit more mistakes than successful actions, but this is likely not the case.
It can break the chain of rumination, giving you a reason to interrupt your negative thoughts.
Keep a list of the things you’re proud of near your desk or workspace.
4. Celebrate your wins
As an ambitious entrepreneur, you’re likely focused on long-term thinking. You want to grow your business to be massively successful, and you want to grow your personal wealth over a period of decades.
Accordingly, it’s easy to minimize or write off the victories you experience in the moment, compromising your confidence.
If you want to feel better about your capabilities, a good confidence-building exercise is taking the time to celebrate your wins.
Whenever you have a success, even a minor one, spend some time acknowledging it and rewarding yourself for it.
This is doubly effective if you’re celebrating wins with your team. Employee recognition is a great way to motivate employees, a good opportunity to bond with your team, and a way to build confidence in your entire organization.
5. Seek ongoing education
No matter how much knowledge and experience you acquire, you can always stand to have more.
Commit to ongoing education in multiple different fields if you want to feel more confident in your work.
Attend seminars and workshops to be a better business leader and/or entrepreneur, and attend classes to sharpen the skills relevant to your specific industry.
This will have a short-term effect and long-term effect on building your confidence.
In the short term, you’ll feel good about yourself for spending the extra effort and learning something new. Every time you finish a class or improve a skill, you’ll get to pat yourself on the back.
In the long term, you’ll gradually become better at your job, making you more confident in every task you complete.
6. Create (and master) your elevator pitch
Every entrepreneur needs to have an elevator pitch. Writing and perfecting yours can give you more confidence in a variety of situations.
Essentially, this is a concise pitch that describes your business model to someone who’s never heard of it before.
The name comes from the fact that you should be able to deliver it in the time it takes for an elevator to get to your floor — usually 30 seconds or so.
It’s going to take time to identify and polish the most important pieces of information to deliver in this pitch, and you’ll need to practice it multiple times to get the delivery right.
But when you do, you’ll feel more confident giving the pitch to new investors and new prospects.
7. Find a supportive mentor
Mentorship is sometimes underrated as a conduit for entrepreneurial improvement.
A good mentor will help you perfect your business model, connect you with resources to help you flesh out your business, and give you advice and direction when you’re stuck on a problem.
Mentors can boost your confidence by helping you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your idea.
Simply having someone you can turn to in times of crisis, or when you’re confused, can make your problems seem smaller and make you feel more capable in your own business.
Over time, you’ll get a keener sense for business by working with a mentor, and you’ll start to develop your own perspective and voice.
8. Make time for fun
Many new entrepreneurs overcompensate for their lack of confidence by investing everything they have into the business, including all their time.
They work long nights and weekends, hoping that dedicating themselves solely to the business will help them achieve better results. However, this is rarely the outcome.
It’s much better to spend time doing valuable things than to spend more time overall.
Plus, if you work too hard, you’ll sharply decrease your productivity, and could eventually burn out.
If you want to feel more confident and boost your productivity at the same time, you have to make time for fun things in life.
Spending time with the people you love, participating in a creative or competitive hobby, and just relaxing can all make you feel better about yourself.
9. Get out of your comfort zone
Similarly, it’s important to break away from the familiar.
New and experienced entrepreneurs alike often find themselves trapped in the same routine, doing the same tasks every day, talking to the same people, and visiting the same networking spots.
This may be comforting in the short term, but in the long term, it can make you feel trapped or unstimulated — even if you don’t realize it.
Fortunately, breaking out of your comfort zone is easy if you do it gradually.
Try working somewhere new, talking to new people, or experimenting with strategies you might not otherwise consider.
The more novelty you have in your life, the more confident and in control you’re going to feel.
10. Recognize self-doubt and learn to overcome it
All entrepreneurs — even the seemingly confident ones — eventually experience self-doubt.
Before making a big decision, they find themselves second-guessing their gut instincts. After a sequence of troubling events, they internally debate whether they’re truly cut out to be an entrepreneur.
We all experience this from time to time.
If you want to improve your confidence, you need to come up with strategies to combat self-doubt.
One of the simplest is mindfulness meditation.
There are many meditation practices, and all of them can be effective, but the basic idea is to clear your mind by focusing on the present moment and repeat a mantra or repetitive action.
It takes some practice, but over time you’ll grow more resilient to distracting or negative thoughts.
11. Seek feedback
You shouldn’t base your opinion of yourself on the perspectives of others, but it can be helpful to seek feedback on a regular basis.
Talk to partners, employees, clients and other people in your professional life and ask them for honest feedback about your performance and your approach. You might be surprised at what you hear back.
If your coworkers and colleagues have good things to say about you, it will likely make you feel more confident in your work.
But even the bad things can be valuable; if you find that most people have the same complaint, like that you’re too soft-spoken or that you lose your temper easily, you’ll have a direction for improvement.
Knowing your weaknesses is a strangely powerful confidence builder; it makes you feel in control of your own faults.
12. Get used to rejection
Rejection is an inevitability in the business world.
You’ll have investors refusing to invest in your business, employment candidates unwilling to join your team, and prospects who just don’t want to buy your products.
If you’re not prepared for this, it can devastate your entrepreneur confidence.
It’s hard for anyone to simply “get used” to rejection, but the more you face it, the more resilient you’ll become.
Consider intentionally putting yourself in situations where you know you’ll get rejected.
When people politely reject you and there are no long-term consequences, you’ll gradually learn how minor and inconsequential most rejections truly are.
13. Use current tech and professional tools
Finally, make sure you’re using the right tech products and professional tools for your team.
It’s hard to feel confident in your work as an entrepreneur if your software is 10 years old, or if your computer can’t keep up with the rate of your brainstorming mind.
It’s also important to remember that nobody can build perfect confidence overnight.
Even knowing how to build confidence, it’s likely going to take weeks, months or even years to feel like you’re a capable and valuable entrepreneur.
Stay consistent in your efforts, learn from your missteps, and remain as patient as possible.
Everything will come to you in time.
Confidence is an important quality and a powerful tool for any entrepreneur, but when you’re just starting out, it can be hard to exude.
With enough confidence builders and enough time, even the most hesitant or uncertain entrepreneurs can learn to be more confident in themselves, and apply that confidence to the work that matters most.
In addition, make sure you have the right productivity tools for you and your team. With Appily App Builder, other products and services designed to make your life easier, you can get more done and feel good doing it.