Starting out in business in 2002 was a challenge. It all sounds so simple; you decide what you want to offer as a business and hey presto off you go you have instant success…Or do you? Being a small business owner or entrepreneur opens you up to a whole world of decisions and responsibilities that often most people are just not ready for. I remember when I started I was so excited. I was out there ready for the work to flow in. I had my phone, my fax machine (remember those) where all the important orders would come in, I was ready. However, after a week of silence, I very quickly realised that people were not going to come rushing to me just because I had made the bold statement of being open for business.
So problem number 1 for me was ‘where do I get clients from’. Even now this is the biggest question Sarah and I get asked. Fortunately, we now have the experience and skills to help make this happen, however, back in 2002 I had no idea at all. So like most people you look for help, where do you turn? friends? family? Wait a minute the Government will help! Of course! They’re encouraging people to go out there and start a business! So off I went and made an appointment to see a ‘government authorised’ local business advice service.
Well, what an experience that was! Being as green as I was back then I sucked up every word that they said. I totally believed that they had the experience and knowledge to make me a success all of this. I did zero research. Without even knowing the person, I just trusted the government agency that was willing to help.
Unfortunately, their advice didn’t work out for me. They had no real idea of the business I was in nor did they know how to reach the type of clients I was looking for. They gave me a great big list of things to do that cost me a whole load of money with no return Looking back I don’t blame them, as I found out they were middle managers that had never actually experienced real-life business and the issues they face. They had learned from an out of date ‘course’ what should happen but not what actually happens. I felt very alone.
Problem number 2, which was really apparent after this experience, was that I needed to be around business owners and have access to resources that would help me. The business owners had to be more established ones that had been through the startup phase and knew the real-life version of business, not just the textbook version. I also wanted to have support when I needed it, access to those skills that I either didn’t have or didn’t want to learn, the most obvious one for this was the FSB (Federation of small businesses) which is still running now. At the time was a massive help and a big confidence booster for me. I also was able to dip my toe into the world of networking which lead me to meeting some of the business owners that were out there running their business and happily sharing their experiences.
The first couple of years was really tough, I get why most startups fail it’s not through lack of desire or skill but lack of resources, knowing where to turn for advice and guidance, whose advice to take. Of course, things are easier now with the internet full of blog posts and resources. Search engines are a business owner’s friend and can be used very easily to check out the advice being given out. They’re also a great way of finding other business owners and groups to help you through the early years and onwards.
Business did become easier, Sarah joined me in our business ventures (that’s another story ) and we have worked together for many years now. When Sarah joined the business she brought a whole new set of skills and resources to the business. The pressure was off and it was and still is a great partnership. We have over the years had coaches individually for business, for writing for self-development amongst other things. These were all essential to our business continuing to thrive. For me there was one thing missing which was that safe space that could look at our business from outside of it rather than in it or in a paid for capacity so I contacted 4 people in business that I had got to know and I set up the very first Business Success Dojo with the 5 of us meeting virtually every 3 weeks.
One big thing that I learned in all these years of business was that I needed a space that was safe to ask my questions, to have a room of people that were experienced in business or that had different viewpoints to myself because they had different experiences. The Dojo has been launched to help business owners do just this in 2 ways either via our regular face to face meetings which have a unique formula or via our mastermind groups which I have run for a number of years now privately.
By giving business owners (with varying degrees of time in business) these environments of safety and support they find it’s much more fun being in business than going it alone. heir confidence grows and their business endeavours have a much higher chance of succeeding.
If the Dojo has got you interested in levelling up your business and surrounding yourself with people dedicated to helping and growing then feel free to contact me and let’s see how this can work for you and the group.
To your Success
I hope you’ve enjoyed this 30 part series of building courage and increasing self-confidence as much as I have. More importantly I hope you’ve learned a thing or two and started to put this knowledge into action. The confidence hacks are always a great place to start, but all the knowledge I shared over the past month will serve you well over time.
Let’s take a quick walk down memory lane and browse through all the different topics we covered over the past 29 days. Here’s a quick rundown: [Link to each article or blog post on your site for easy reference]
What has had the biggest impact on you? What tips and ideas have you found the most helpful? Those are the posts that you want to come back to again and again.
Take a few minutes today to reflect on not only how far you’ve come, but more importantly how this simple 30 day challenge has influenced you and changed you for the better. What positive experiences have you had as a result of working on your confidence and courage throughout this month?
No matter how confident and courageous we become, we all have days when we feel less than our best. It’s normal to go through times when you struggle with self-esteem and confidence. Today’s confidence hack is all about creating a little tool that will help you get through those days and find your self-confidence again. The idea is simple. Make a list of your strengths, skills, and achievements that you can look back on whenever you need little confidence boost.
Pick A Pretty Notebook
While you could jot your list down on a scrap piece of paper or make it a digital note, it will work much better if you start with something that’s visually appealing. It’s even more important to have this list in a format that you can hold and feel. The tactile sensation of writing your list down in the notebook, adding to it over time, and most importantly, having the book to hold whenever you refer back to it makes it seem a lot more real, memorable, and believable. Trust me on this. Go find a pretty little notebook and use it as your very own confidence journal.
Make A List And Add To It
Start by writing down anything and everything you can think of that you’re proud of or that you’ve accomplished. Make a list of your strengths and any skills you’ve acquired over time. Don’t forget to write down your various achievements as well.
This may seem a little strange at first, but stick with it and you’ll get more comfortable with the process. Remember that you don’t need to show anyone your confidence journal. Brag away so you are able to remind yourself of everything you’ve accomplished when you’re having a bad day.
Include Pictures, Sketches, And Mementos
Visual aids can be very helpful in your journal. Feel free to turn it into a bit of a scrapbook. If you have pictures of big things you’ve accomplished (think graduation or that time you hiked up a mountain for example), paste them in there, or at the very least tuck them into the appropriate pages. Add other mementos like ticket stubs, postcards, and anything else you have laying around that reminds you of your accomplishments. Make it personal and make it real.
Add some color, some doodles, or some sketches. Make the journal your own and something you’ll look forward to browse through going forward. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. The only rule is to create the book and it’s something that can and should evolve over time.
Keep Adding To The List And Use It Often
Last but not least, make sure you use the confidence journal. Keep adding to it as you accomplish new things and are proud of yourself. During times when you’re lacking confidence, sit down and read through the journal. Once you see how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished already, you won’t help but start to feel more confident.
We all have people in our lives that act as cheerleaders and who are great for our self-esteem. We also often have people around us who bring us down. Or maybe it’s a particular place or situation that makes you feel inadequate or self-conscious. It’s important to be aware of these people, places, and situations that will bring you down. When you know who and what they are, you can guard against them and if possible avoid them.
Become Aware Of The Negative Energy
Your self-confidence takes the biggest hit when you are unaware of the person or situation you’re walking into. When you feel blind-sided, it hurts, it and it’s hard to recover and rebuild your self-esteem and courage. I like to think of how these people, places, and situations affect us as negative energy. Your first task is to become aware of this negative energy and realize where it’s coming from before it hits you. By simply being aware you avoid being surprised. Try it.
Guard Against It And Neutralize It Going In
Once you are aware of what or who is bringing you down, you can start to guard against it. The basic idea is to neutralize the negative energy that’s being send your way. One of my favorite ways of doing this is to expect it going in and realizing what’s causing it. For example, if your cousin always gives you a hard time about your weight, it may help to realize that she’s putting you down because she’s not happy with her own life. If you feel judged at a local club by a group of people, it helps to know that they may be doing it to make themselves feel better. Realizing this going in will go a long way towards neutralizing things. Of course another way to guard yourself is to do what you can avoid interacting with the people that bring you down and of course avoiding the places and situations that make you feel bad.
Adjust Your Life As Needed Until You Feel More Confident And Courageous
Last but not least, avoiding people, places, and situations that will bring you down is always an option. If you know a conversation with your sister will make you feel less confident, or you feel judged when going to a certain bar or club, avoid those people and places for now. I’m not saying you have to cut them out indefinitely. Instead, take a break and focus on building up your confidence and your self-esteem. When you’re ready, you can go back to spending time with those people or hanging out at those places and see how it goes. Often the experience is completely different for you when you approach it in a confident manner.
It’s time for another confidence hack. These are short little actionable tips that you can implement right away to grow your courage and self-confidence. Today is another great example of how a simple idea and a shift in thought and perception is all it takes to give you that confidence boost you need. It’s one of those hacks that works better the more you use it. Give it a try starting today and then make an effort to use it regularly.
The confidence hack is simple. Make yourself a promise and then make sure you keep it. That’s it. If it sounds simple, it’s because it is. But like some of the other hacks I’ve shared with you already, it’s more powerful than you may think.
By making yourself a promise, you’ll accomplish several things. The first is that you define what you need to do. You can’t make a promise if you don’t know what you’re promising. The second is that you are committing yourself to taking action. To keep the promise, you have to do something. Which brings us to the last part of the hack. You have to make sure that you keep the promise you made yourself. By getting in the habit of doing that, you won’t let yourself make up excuses or put things off. Start right now by making yourself the promise to give this a serious try. I want you to promise yourself that you will keep the promises you make to yourself. It’s an important part of this hack and what will help build your self-confidence.
Think of it this way. Who do you feel is more reliable and who are you more confident in? The person that makes big promises, but doesn’t always keep them, or the one that will keep his promise no matter what when he’s given his word? It’s the second one. It’s no different when you’re dealing with yourself. With this one little commitment and shift in thinking you can greatly boost your confidence in yourself. Best of all, each time you keep another promise to yourself, you’re reinforcing that confidence.
Let’s look at an example of this confidence hack in action. Let’s say there’s something you want to get done in the morning. This could be going to the gym, reading a book, writing in a journal, or a specific task for your job or business. Define what it is you want to do and then set aside time for it each morning. Then make yourself a promise to get it done each and every morning for a week. Write it down and commit. Stick to your promise and after the week re-evaluate. Is it working? Is there something you need to change? Make those tweaks and then make another promise to yourself to do this task every morning (or Monday through Friday) for another week. Rinse and repeat.
In yesterday’s post I shared some tough love with you and explained why complaining about things isn’t a good long-term strategy. In today’s confidence hack we’re going to piggyback on that idea by eating the frog. Often the thing we complain about is something we don’t want to do. It’s the thing we dread and keep putting off. We spent more time worrying and complaining about it than is good for ourselves. Worst of all it makes us feel less confident and less competent. Instead of pushing it back and putting it off, we should get in the habit of tackling it head on, first thing in the morning.
What do frogs have to do with it you ask? Good question. It’s an expression I picked up from Brian Tracey who wrote a book called “Eat that Frog”. It’s a great read and I recommend you pick up a copy when you get the chance. The reasoning behind it is this. What if I asked you to eat a frog? Unless you’re into French cuisine, that does not sound like an appetizing endeavor. Instead it’s one of those things you really don’t want to do and you keep putting it off. If you just went ahead and ate that frog first thing in the morning, you wouldn’t spend all day worrying and agonizing about having to eat it. Instead of dampening your self-esteem and confidence, getting it done right away will boost your self-confidence and increase your courage.
While you probably haven’t been asked to eat a frog, you’ve been in plenty of similar situations. Maybe it’s the tough homework assignment in school, decluttering your closet at home, or doing your taxes. We all have tasks we want to put off, sometimes indefinitely. But doing this holds us back. We know we’ll have to get that homework assignment turned in eventually and that taxes will be due April 15th. We also know that getting ready in the morning will be much easier with a closet filled only with outfits we’d actually wear.
We also know that doing this work that has to be done early in the day when we have the mental and physical energy to do it will be much easier than trying to rush through it and pull an all-nighter at the last minute.
Going forward I challenge you to “eat that frog” and do the most difficult or most dreaded task first. Not only will you do a much better job with it and waste less energy and worrying about it, it’s also a great way to boost your self-confidence and self-esteem.
In yesterday’s blog post we talked about how doing random acts of kindness can boost your self-esteem. I hope you took the time yesterday to give it a try and are starting to make performing random acts of kindness part of your day as often as possible. In today’s confidence hack we’re going to take it to the next level. My tip for you today to boost your confidence and your self-esteem is to start volunteering.
Volunteering Is Random Acts of Kindness On Steroids
Just like random acts of kindness, volunteering for a good cause makes you feel proud and good about yourself. It makes you feel like you matter and that you’re making a difference. Unlike doing something for a random stranger, you can actually see the positive impact you’re having for yourself when you’re volunteering somewhere regularly. That’s why I’m considering volunteering RAK on steroids. Yes, it takes more time and it’s a bigger commitment. In return though, you also get better results and your confidence an even bigger boost.
Volunteering Is Scheduled And Harder To Skip
It’s easy to say that you’re going to be kinder to others and do more for those around you. Actually doing it day in and day out is another story. It’s too easy to let a day go by without performing a random act of kindness and before you know it a month has passed and you’re right where you started.
Since volunteering is a bit more of a commitment, and usually a scheduled activity, you’ll be a lot more likely to actually do it regularly. It also helps to be part of a volunteering community and knowing that others are counting on you to be there and do your part.
Volunteering Forces You To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Last but not least, volunteering forces you to step out of your comfort zone. You have to put yourself out there and meet new people, learn new skills and do things you’ve never done before. At the same time the organization you’re volunteering for will have the tools, resources, training, and support to help you succeed. It’s a great way to set yourself up for a big win and big boost in confidence.
Go out there and start volunteering. You’ll be glad you did. It’s a rewarding experience that also helps build your courage and your self-confidence.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “Fake It ‘Till You Make It”. It’s most often used in the context of entrepreneurship and entertainment. The idea is to act like you’re a big deal and great success until you actually are. While it may sound odd at first, it turns out that faking it actually works. It makes you pay attention to what the people that have already made it in your chosen business or career, do on a daily basis. How do they act, talk, dress, and what are their habits? You have to first start to pay attention and figure those things out, and then you start to model or copy them. In the end, you start to develop some of the same habits successful people have and as a result you yourself will hopefully become more successful. Of course being perceived as a big deal by those around you doesn’t hurt either.
Here’s where things get interesting for us. It turns out that faking confidence works to make us actually feel more confident. Let me repeat that. Faking confidence makes you more confident. That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? That’s why it’s today’s confidence hack. Here are a few ideas on how we can tap into this idea and use it to our advantage.
The basic idea is to simply start acting confident. Stand up tall, and go for it. Keep pretending to be self-confident until you start to feel it for real. Ask yourself what the confident and courageous version of yourself would do and then do it.
If you don’t feel very confident at the beginning stop and ask yourself what you would do if you were more confident. Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you’re at a social gathering where you don’t know anyone but you should be mingling and meeting new people. The shy version of yourself wants to go hide in the corner and fade into the background. What would a confident person do? He or she would walk in there tall with a big smile and start making small talk. That’s exactly what you’ll be doing. Pretend you’re confident. If this seems hard, or intimidating, make yourself fake confidence for five minutes. You can do this. After those five minutes, you’ve talked to at least one person. That may be just what you need to get comfortable in this new situation and no matter what happens, you’ll start to feel more comfortable and confident after this little exercise.
The surprising thing is that once you get in the habit of faking confidence, you will start to feel more self-confident for real. I encourage you to give it a try and to start implementing today’s confidence hack of faking it until you make it. Before long you’ll more self-confident and courageous in anything you decide to tackle and that’s a great thing.
Today’s post is going to be a little different. Instead of sharing one big confidence and courage boosting concept with you or one of the “confidence hacks”, I have a couple of small pieces of advice on self-confidence for you. They may seem like small things at first glance and it’s easy to dismiss them and move on. I encourage you not to skip over these little tips. They are actually quite powerful and a great way to make you feel better. Try them and see for yourself.
Shower And Get Dressed In The Morning
Make it a habit to shower and get dressed nicely in the morning, even if your job doesn’t require it, you work from home, or it’s the weekend. It gives you a feeling of pride and confidence, and more importantly it signals your mind that you’re ready to go and seize the day.
Lounging around in your PJs or yoga pants and an old t-shirt doesn’t have the same effect. Dress for success and notice how this one little act increases your self-confidence.
Put On Your Shoes
Putting on your shoes even when you’re not headed out for the day has the same effect. It always amazes me how well this one little trick works. If you need to tackle some dreaded chores, simply have a lot on your plate that day, or a little confidence boost to talk yourself into doing something, lace up your shoes and get it done.
Do Something To Feel Pretty or Well Groomed
We feel much more confident when we feel pretty or well put together. Go do something that gives you that feeling. Get a fresh haircut, put on your favorite lipstick, or put on a clean, fresh pressed shirt before a meeting, date, or task your nervous and anxious about. Do something, anything to make yourself feel pretty and well-put-together.
It can be helpful to have a list with a couple of things on it that you know will make you feel good about your appearance. Keep mental tabs on that list or write it down and refer back to it whenever you need a little confidence and courage boost.
Self-Care Isn’t A Waste Of Time
Last but not least, let’s talk about self-care. These are all the little things we can do for ourselves to make us feel better. It could be taking a bubble bath, spending an afternoon reading, going out for drinks with good friends, watching the ballgame, or losing yourself in a good computer game. It’s the things we do to recharge and take care of ourselves. Often, we consider them a waste of time, or put them on the backburner in favor of more urgent work, business, or family tasks. That’s a big mistake that will lead to burnout in the long run. Take the time to take care of yourself regularly. Self-care has the added benefit of boosting your confidence. You’re showing yourself that you’re worth the care.