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What is Imposter Syndrome?

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

As an entrepreneur, have you ever struggled with thoughts of self-doubt even while your business is succeeding? Even though you know you should be proud of your achievements in your career, maybe inside there are these nagging questions, “Do I really deserve to be here? Am I really qualified to do this?” This is a common feeling among entrepreneurs, it’s called Imposter Syndrome. This blog will answer the question, “what is imposter syndrome?”, help you navigate these feelings of inadequacy, and provide strategies of how to be truly confident in your success.  

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

So, let’s answer this question: what is imposter syndrome? Imposter syndrome is a very common psychological phenomenon where a person they are not as competent as others perceive you to be. Studies have shown that 70% of Americans experience this internal struggle. If left unchecked, it can lead to self-sabotage, potentially derailing your career or business. This lack of inner confidence can impact small business owners and entrepreneurs and be a hindrance to a business’s growth and success.

What Is Imposter Syndrome: Identifying the Signs

Now that we've answered the question, "what is imposter syndrome?", let's talk about how to recognize it. The signs of imposter syndrome are generally internal thoughts and anxiety leading you to believe you don’t deserve the success or position you’re in. It could be a leader who fears they will lose the respect of their colleagues if they have less experience in a particular field or feel underqualified. Here are some of the common signs of imposter syndrome:

  • Self-doubt
  • An inability to realistically assess your competence and skills
  • Attributing your success to external factors such as luck
  • Berating your own performance
  • Fear that you won't live up to expectations
  • Overachieving 
  • Sabotaging your own success
  • Setting near-impossible goals and feeling disappointed when you fall short

Effects of Imposter Syndrome on Your Career/Business

Impostor syndrome is often rooted in a fear of failure or success (or both). This fear can either paralyze you into being stagnant as an entrepreneur, or cause you to overachieve at the expense of your own mental health. Research also suggests that people struggling with imposter syndrome have less job satisfaction and career optimism. In more serious cases, it can lead to crippling anxiety and even depression – if this is you, it’s definitely recommended to speak with a licensed therapist.

What is Imposter Syndrome: Tips to Overcome It

Imposter syndrome isn’t uncommon in the entrepreneurial journey and overcoming it pushes you to grow if you allow it. When you understand what is imposter syndrome, these tips to overcoming imposter syndrome can help you become more confident in your career or small business!

Ask Yourself the Hard Questions
This is the challenging part of dealing with imposter syndrome, but addressing the ‘why’ behind what you believe can give you insight on how to move forward. Ask yourself and reflect on questions such as, “What core beliefs do I hold about myself?”, “Do I believe I am worthy of love as I am?”, “Must I be perfect for others to approve of me?”

Recognize It & Redirect Your Thoughts
Recognizing and redirecting your mindset can help you move past the feelings of self-doubt. It could be as simple as making positive affirmations about yourself such as, “I am good enough,” listing your accomplishments, or reading praise from others. Put these positive thoughts in visible places such as your phone lock screen, a sticky note on your computer, or in a calendar reminder.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Maybe you compare yourself to others who appear successful and feel as though you could never achieve the same with your ‘lack of ability’. Social media has only exacerbated this issue of comparison and it can be toxic. Someone else’s journey is not your own; it’s okay to take a different route to achieve your dreams.

Adjust Your Expectations & Celebrate Small Wins
You might place a lot of stock in your skills and abilities as an entrepreneur, which puts more undue pressure to perform and ‘fool’ everyone around you. Holding yourself to impossible standards of perfection isn’t sustainable or healthy – celebrate the small wins.

Accept the reality that you aren’t perfect, and success requires hard work; you will make mistakes, but that’s a crucial part of growth. This mindset will reduce your fear of failure, which can make you more confident.

Surround Yourself with Experts, Mentors & Support
An entrepreneur can acknowledge the fact that they don’t need to be the smartest person in the room. Surround yourself with experts and lean into their strengths for areas that aren’t in your realm of expertise – this can eliminate a lot of the pressure you put on yourself. Find mentors who want to help you achieve success and confide in a trusted friend or therapist when you are struggling. Having people in these key roles will help you shift to a place of confidence.

Practice Wellness & Gratitude
Find a healthy work-life balance and practice gratitude regularly. Maybe it’s a hobby, creative outlet or healthy habit you can practice to turn off your brain and give back to yourself. Write down thoughts of gratitude or proud moments – these can help you focus on the positive again and appreciate the success you have seen.


In your journey as an entrepreneur, you may have to overcome imposter syndrome. With these tips, you can focus your hard work and effort on success without feeling undeserving. Get more tips for small business owners and entrepreneurs on our blog. Connect with a commercial insurance broker for any questions you have about protecting your small business.