I've been loving chatting to all the incredible future female founders who booked a discovery call with me this month. Plus these calls are always such a good source of inspiration for my newsletters and social media posts. (pro tip!)
This time, they've highlighted what seems to be the biggest blocker for women starting their own business.
There were a few contenders.
A lack of time. A lack of money. A lack of ideas. A lack of understanding of ‘how to do it’.
A lack of confidence.
99% of the women I speak to who are considering leaving their 9-5 or freelance careers, are staying stuck doing work that makes them miserable because of a lack of confidence.
Is it your biggest blocker, Sarah?
It definitely was mine. I couldn't fathom why anyone would want to actually pay me to help them with their return to work (and I then went on to match my old Head of Talent corporate salary doing it!).
Confidence gremlins come in all shapes and sizes.
Here are the top three types I see most often:
A lack of confidence that anyone will buy ‘your thing’
A lack of confidence in your own abilities
A lack of confidence in selling and marketing yourself
Let's take each one in turn and try to put them back in their boxes, shall we?
1. A lack of confidence that anyone will buy ‘your thing’
If you're keen to become a purpose-led founder, ie your business ‘why’ comes straight from your heart and soul; it really matters. You BELIEVE in its value in the world. (If you don't, I'd question if it's the right thing).
Chances are, your business idea is going to CHANGE LIVES in some way or another. Your people will pay for the transformation if it's compelling enough and if it solves a problem they have.
If you would have paid for the thing you want to offer, then other people will too. I wish I'd have paid to fast-track shaping my own business back in 2018!
It's simply a matter of drawing those people to you with your magnetic messaging, showing empathy for their problem and pricing your service in line with the value of the transformation you're offering.
Check out my article about why purpose-led businesses are THE best type of businesses to start.
2. A lack of confidence in your own abilities
When you put yourself out there, there has to be a tiny part of you that believes you know your stuff and that you can actually help your dream client achieve their goals.
Yes, this self-belief will often be fleeting at first (you can work on that) but as long as you have a base level of skills, knowledge, talent and passion, that's all you need to start.
Your confidence will grow when you start to help your clients generate the results. It's validation, evidence and proof to your inner critic that you're more than capable.
I remember so clearly the day I received my first ever testimonial. It's the day I realised it was all worth it.
To take that first step, all you need is a glimmer of belief.
Scour your Linkedin recommendations or appraisal feedback for evidence of your brilliance if you need to spark that self-belief.
Remember, you only need to know a little bit more than the person you want to help for you to be able to add value to their life. You've totally got this.
3. A lack of confidence in selling and marketing yourself
When you work for a big brand and you have to sell their product or service, it doesn't feel half as terrifying as selling your own thing!
You're effectively selling yourself. It's so personal. It even activates a different region of your brain, your amygdala. The fear of rejection is real.
Your identity and self-worth feels caught up in whether or not someone will buy your thing. It can feel like if they don't buy your thing, they're rejecting YOU.
And for anyone who ever felt left out at school, that pain is real. So you ‘stay safe’ and don't put yourself out there. You stay stuck and don't start your business.
But learning to release attachment to the outcome and whether anyone buys your thing or not is a really important skill to learn. No one likes a desperate sales pitch after all.
The other important reframe is remembering that sales and marketing is simply you explaining how your thing could help them. Communication.
Whether you're a teacher or an L&D professional, you're basically ‘selling’ concepts and transformations every day. If you're a director on a senior management team, you're ‘selling’ strategies and ideas every day to your team and board.
Do any of these confidence blockers resonate with you? If so, I'd love to know which one.