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  • Writer's pictureEbony Rhodes

The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Defeating Imposter Syndrome and Embody Success

Why Are More People Turning to Entrepreneurship?

Let’s not kid ourselves– corporate America is not it. Generationally, we are overall disenchanted with corporate culture, with “lack of mutual respect” being one of the top three reasons Americans are quitting their job. In the wake of the pandemic, humans globally have reflected and reprioritized.

When weighing your options between jobs, fair financial compensation ranks as the highest consideration; however, four out of the five top considerations pertain to the company’s culture, such as job fulfillment, safety to authentically express oneself, a general sense of empathy/compassion from colleagues and the ability to be trusted and carry out one’s own innovation.

In 2021 nearly 1 out of every 5 people quit their jobs in an era that has been denoted as “The Great Resignation” (2021 - present). Rather, Americans seem to be reaching for a sort of self-empowerment as the freelance workforce grows 3x faster than the US Workforce as a whole. Of the 36% estimated self-employed, Millennials have established themselves as the generation that freelances more than any other generation.

When asked, the top values of a(n) freelancer/entrepreneur were:

  1. Independence/freedom

  2. Flexibility

  3. Autonomy

Americans, as a whole, have just raised the price for their time. 2 out of 3 freelancers made more money than before within a year of freelancing, and 50% of freelancers admit they would not take a traditional job no matter how much money was offered.

The Biggest Challenge to Entrepreneurship

Generally, more and more Americans are stepping out on faith and finding the courage to cultivate their own success, yet, 20% of small businesses (any business that is less than 500 employees) fail within the first year, and there is a 50/50 chance of a small business’ survival past the 5-year mark.

Why? Well, cultivating a successful business mindset is one of the most critical foundation pieces of any entrepreneur, because our beliefs inform our reality. In other words, if your mindset is limited, your business is also limited. Limiting beliefs can show up as:

“I am not smart enough to become a freelancer”

“I need a lot of money to start my own business”

“I need to have certifications to be successful”

“I must work hard to be successful” etc.

To nourish a successful mindset, it’s your job as an entrepreneur to expand your foundation and break out of your restricting beliefs. One of the most challenging, limiting beliefs is self-doubt, what’s formally known as Imposter Syndrome.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is a mental distortion where an individual perceives their capabilities or successes as less than that of their peers. People with Imposter Syndrome have a persistent feeling that they don’t belong and tend to perceive their peers as perpetually smarter, richer, and better. Any feelings of success are invalidated for the “Imposter” since, for the “Imposter,” success is linked to something external.

What Does Imposter Syndrome Look Like?

For instance, in my pursuit of my undergraduate degree, I constantly felt like a failure. I decided to achieve one of the most stressful and challenging majors my university had to offer: Biochemistry. During the first two years of my undergraduate experience, I recall feeling:

Alone. It felt like everyone else was doing just fine, and I was the only one silently struggling.

Isolated. Every time I received a below-average grade, I sunk deeper and deeper into my mind and felt as though “my best” was not good enough. This feeling drove me to study even more which did nothing but burned me out further.

Insecure. Since I thought I was the only one seemingly struggling, I internalized the feeling as an inherent wrong inside of me. This manifested itself into feeling like a fraud, I didn’t belong where the successful people are because I’m just too dumb, too ugly, and too undeserving.

And I’m not alone, 70% of Americans will experience imposter syndrome at least once in their lifetime. People who have imposter syndrome:

  • View their failures as an impediment to their success rather than a part of their success

  • Perceive failures or resistance as a “sign” of unworthiness,

  • Tend to focus more on what they didn’t do right or could do better rather than the progress they have made or the success they have achieved

Psychology of Imposter Syndrome

There are two main concepts that are vital to understanding when building a successful business mindset:

  1. You attract what you are

  2. What you are is what you believe

The human body is a reinforcer of whatever you feed it. Thus, if one fills their head with self-doubt, low self-worth, and negative projection, then the mind affirms this by creating a reality where you are faced with situations that only reaffirm what you believed all along.

This is beautifully illustrated in Dr. Marasau Emoto’s Water Consciousness experiment, where water that was exposed to positive phrases, whether spoken, written, or sung, formed beautiful crystals when frozen compared to water that was exposed to negative phrases.

The experiment was repeated by a group of Japanese researchers in 2006, and yet again, water that was exposed to positive affirmations scored higher than water exposed to negative affirmations in a double-blind study. (Oh, and by the way, humans are made up of ¾ water).

This study reveals the implications of one’s intentions, energy, and mindset. Essentially, if you believe you are a fraud, then you are. And conversely, success is something you are or something you become, not something you do.

So how exactly can we overcome Imposter Syndrome and replace our restricted mindset with a growth mindset that expands us and breeds its own success?

Successful Business Strategy to Overcome Imposter Syndrome


Journaling. Meditation. Support system.

Self-doubt roots itself in comparison. Instead of peering out, try looking within. Many business owners with imposter syndrome fail to celebrate their accomplishments because they downplay or even straight out disregard them.

However, consistent reflection will support thoughtful, healthy inner dialogue. Give yourself more credit. Once you begin to tell your friends, family, or even yourself the goals you’ve accomplished, the challenges you preserved, or the obstacles you overcame, you begin to recognize your self-value.

Journaling. A documented record of your feelings, actions, accomplishments, and challenges helps to organize your emotions. Keeping a record of your journey:

  • Encourages self-worth by acting as a reminder of your successes

  • Reveals weaknesses and areas of improvement

  • Is a cathartic, healthy way to heal and process difficult feelings

Meditation. Providing yourself with some space creates a safe environment for desires or uncomfortable feelings to arise. By simply observing the thoughts that arise, the entrepreneur can:

  • Expose suppressed fears

  • Identify your current standing with yourself

  • Introduce non-judgmental acceptance of one’s 100% authentic self

Power of Collaboration

Support System. Study Groups.

Freelancing or entrepreneurship tends to be a lonely road. Your main priority is to keep your business afloat. Especially at the beginning of your start-up journey, you are expanding your skillset, establishing the foundation of your business, creating content, sending/replying to emails, holding consultations, filing paperwork, and overall performing essential work functions alone.

Here is the truth: no one can do everything on their own. And, matter of fact, if you are performing everything alone, chances are you are hindering your own productivity and success. The importance of collaboration is most stressed in the classroom.

Uri Treisman was a calculus professor at U.C. Berkley. He observed his Asian students performing significantly better than his Black students. When Treisman investigated, the Black students actually studied more than his Asian students, but they also studied alone compared to their Asian counterparts. After requiring his students to collaborate or partner on homework then, all of his students were able to achieve success.

To fortify your successful business mindset, consider:

Partnerships/Collaboration. The saying two heads are better than one seems to hold true in this case. Consider a collaborative project for your business. Collaboration can build a community bond with similar professionals in your field while simultaneously introducing warm leads to each other’s work thus growing each other’s business.

Mentorship. Having a mentor can serve to guide your business by having a seasoned professional in your field to bounce ideas off of, gain constructive criticism, and just have someone who gets it. More likely than not, they have faced all the same hardships and then some and will guide you in the right direction.

Friends/Family. Surround yourself with loving, supportive friends and/or family who you can work around. More than likely, they can provide a unique perspective that can spark your creativity since they are most likely outside of your field. Being around a support system with good energy also boosts your morale.

Acceptance & Creating Your Own Success

Failure. Self-Worth. Individual Success.

Lastly, to complete your successful business mindset, you as a business owner will have to create a healthy method to process failure. Moreover, detach your self-worth from your business’ success.

This may possibly be the hardest lesson to master, but it’s important to remember that you are not your business. This means any rejection or failure in your business is not a reflection of personal value.

And this is how you can really fend off Imposter Syndrome as a business owner, detaching individual success from business success. Your grades, revenue, or business objectives do not define you.

You, my dear, are inherently worthy, deserving, and enough. So, how can you truly define success? When you are able to detach your success from any external success, then you reclaim your power. Externally linked success is fragile because it’s dependent on factors out of your control.

On the other hand, internally-linked success is much more empowering because it’s independent of others’ thoughts, actions, or words. To start defining self-achievement, here are some tips for healthy detachment:

Distance. It would serve you well to not take anything too personally. When you receive criticism, remind yourself that this is not a reflection of who you are. And when you receive praise, try not to obsess over it. Though it feels great to receive recognition for all of your hard work, what others think of you is not who you are.

Consider: Is the sun any less valuable if no one ever thanked it? Or if everyone praised it? NO. The sun is a beautiful, glowing giant that provides value because that’s something it just is not something it has.

Embodiment. Failure is inevitable. In fact, failure is a requirement for success. Remember, you attract what you are. So, if you want to become a successful entrepreneur with a thriving business, you must become that person.

How do you do that? By pushing beyond your resistance and never giving up. You must grow into the person you want to become, push outside your comfort zone, be comfortable hearing the word “no”, and continue to believe in yourself even if nobody else does. Rejection is only redirection.

Best Business Investment: Business Coaching

Starting your own business is not easy, and there is stress around every corner. From state filing to client acquisition to honing your craft, your business deserves your full energy. But just like Jenga, you are only as strong as your foundation.

So really take the time to craft your successful business mindset with consistent reflection, the occasional collaboration, and the embodiment of your success. And remember, the only difference between you and the next successful entrepreneur is that they did not give up.

Still feeling stuck in a rut? No worries, for more small business advice, pro-tips, mindset guidance, and personal business coaching book...

About the Author: Ebony is a medical copywriter with a degree in biochemistry. Check her out here.

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