Why business confidence is overrated

If entrepreneurs only pursued a goal when they were 100% confident they would achieve it, next to no one would start a business. 

Doubt is normal during the startup phase of your business. Doubt is healthy. Doubt allows you to see problems and solutions from different angles. Do not wait until you are completely free of doubt before starting your business.

If I had waited until I was a hundred percent confident when starting different ventures, I would never have gotten anything off the ground. The secret is that no entrepreneur is completely confident when they start a business and yet plenty grow successful ones.

Here are three steps to business success without confidence.

Step 1: Start before you are ready

Recognise that you never really feel ready, you just need to jump in and take the plunge. A lot of what we see as confidence is decisive action to bring an idea to fruition. All you need to get going is a solid plan, a to-do list and plenty of motivation—the confidence comes as you start to make progress.

There’s no ‘perfect’ time to start a business. If I’d waited until all the conditions were perfect, I’d still be waiting. There is a ‘right’ time to start a business, though. Realise that there is no better time to pursue your passion than now. You can have the best business idea in the world but if you don’t act on it then you will never really know if it will work. Time passes, full of missed opportunities.

Step 2: Fake it until you make it

It’s a common saying and a remedy for everything from startup nerves to impostor syndrome. I recommend it.

First consider that success means different things to different people, then ground yourself with your current achievements. Being happy with where you are now while still taking aim at a goal in the future means you can start to embody confidence and feel successful from today.

If you suspect your idea is solid and worth pursuing but you still don’t have complete confidence in it, act anyway. Create a long-term and short-term plan, and then just start working your way through your to-do list. Don’t even think about how you feel at this point, just get things done! Ticking off items on your list and reaching a few milestones are the early accomplishments that will pave the way for your feelings to catch up later.

Step 3: Gain confidence by doing

Nothing works unless you do. If you don’t pursue your business idea and make it into a reality, then nothing will change a year from now. In every case you’re better off getting started and doing some user interviews and seeing if there is a market for your idea instead of dreaming about it.

If that’s the point at which you decide not to start a business, then at least you tried something and you took some lessons away from the research, which may well feed your next idea. If that gives you a green light? Great! Once you put the wheels in motion and start to validate your business idea you will feel a lot more confident.

When you know you are on the right track, don’t let others dent your confidence or distract you from your plan. The only people who should be able to interrupt you as you go full speed ahead are your mentors. Otherwise, don’t pay attention! Just get it done. Even if you don’t feel it, powering ahead sure looks like confidence.

Confidence is about being assured and the best way to walk on solid ground is to go forth and do it, and learn from your experience. Feedback is information you can use to validate and build your business, and you can’t gain feedback unless you start. This gives you a foundation for confidence that you can then build on as your business grows.

About the author:

Christie Whitehill is an award-winning entrepreneur and mentor in the Australian tech space, dedicated to empowering women in startups, tech and innovation. She is the founder and CEO of Tech Ready Women and the creator of the Tech Ready Program, a ten-week accelerator awarded Startup Accelerator of the Year at the 2017 Australasian Startup Awards.