Deciding to no longer be an employee, but to be your own boss – and possibly the boss of others – is an empowering but an also frightening moment. It means deciding, “I believe that I have what it takes to be the leader of my own career destiny. I believe I can give up the security of being on someone else’s payroll, and that things will work out for me.” It’s an incredible change! It requires something that not everyone is comfortable exhibiting: confidence. Confidence, we can fear, goes against our desires to be humble, be grateful, be “realistic,” and be a lot of other things society tells people (especially women) to be. Embodying the confidence to start your own business absolutely doesn’t have to mean ditching humility or gratitude, but many can fear that’s exactly what it means.
There are, of course, also the more practical fears that come with starting a business, like how to get funding, how to market yourself, how to develop your brand, who to hire, and so much more. Your brain is built to protect itself, so this is around the time it may start rolling out thoughts that it thinks will keep you safe, but are actually destructive. Don’t listen to them. We spoke with Kiana Powell, brand strategist, CEO of Forward PR, and creator of the Vision To Brand: 6-Week Group Coaching Program for female entrepreneurs. She went over some of the destructive thoughts to ignore when starting your own business with us.
Know that it is normal
These thoughts are no reason to step back. In fact, they’re very normal. “Transitioning into becoming a full-time entrepreneur is a scary, but exciting moment in one’s life,” Powell says. “When a person realizes that they have the power to make a living from what they are truly passionate about, there are millions of thoughts that can cause resentment and fear when deciding to take that leap of faith.”
What your brain might say
There are many destructive thoughts that could come up, but they’ll likely be a variation of these that Powell mentions. “Some common thoughts that start-up entrepreneurs may have are: ‘What if people don’t believe in my business?’ ‘Is it really possible to live the life I desire?’ ‘Am I truly qualified enough to help others and make money from it?’ and ‘What if I fail?’”
Turn the fear into a learning opportunity
Those thoughts aren’t coming from any place valid. They aren’t borne out of truth. “All of these questions are rooted from fear and should be canceled immediately when they try to re-surface, which may occur often,” Powell says. “As a wife and mompreneur of soon-to-be two under two, I understand how imposter syndrome can affect your mindset in business when you’re working on something new or preparing to level up, but I remind myself to work through the fear, be open to learning from the mistakes, and find a way to empower others to not make my same mistakes.”
Imposter syndrome happens to everyone
Having imposter syndrome is no indicator of your skillset or worthiness. In fact, it’s basically an inevitable part of the entrepreneurial process, says Powell. “Yes, imposter syndrome is very real and it doesn’t care who you are and where you come from. Within the seven years of working with small to medium-size business owners, I’ve realized that everyone has experienced this syndrome at least five times within their entrepreneurship journey and they don’t even realize it.”
It’s fake, but it’s powerful
Imposter syndrome is truly nothing. But, at the same time, it can have real-life implications if left unchecked. “It’s not a real disease or anything, but it can kill your dreams, creativity, and will to remain consistent,” Powell warns. She went onto list some of the things she does, or advises clients to try when they feel imposter syndrome taking over.
“Remember your WHY!”
If you’re caught up in the thoughts of, “Why should I deserve to be rich or famous?” forget all that. You’re not in it for that, anyway. Your motives are pure. Powell says, “Go back to the reason why you started your business and the impact you desire to make in the world. No matter if it’s your family/children, a solution to a problem you dealt with, or something that was just missing in your community or industry. Your story matters.”
Focus on concrete goals and a plan
Don’t get caught up in thoughts of, “But I’m not THIS successful yet.” Don’t project yourself too far ahead, as it makes you lose sight of today’s goals. “Often entrepreneurs get so wrapped up in building their business they lose focus on their business goals, which can invite negative thoughts on your current achievements that may be overlooked due to clutter in the mind,” Powell says.
Your tribe should push and pull you
Who you surround yourself with is a big deal, says Powell, and your circle should consist of those who tell you you’re worth it, but also gladly share their wisdom if they know more. They should push you along and pull you up with them, supporting you on this journey. “Surround yourself with a community that will share ideas, uplift you, listen to your challenges and try to help you with solutions. You should NEVER be the smartest in the room or attendee to a pity party.”
Don’t expect to know it all yourself
Not knowing every answer doesn’t mean you aren’t fit for your path. Everybody needs a little assistance sometimes. “Find someone or an agency that’ll help you strengthen your business weaknesses and who can help hold you accountable with your goals, while teaching you how to achieve your goals, “Powell shares. “Sometimes you start feeling doubtful in business because you just lack the knowledge/experience to get you to the next level.”
For Black entrepreneurs, the big picture is much bigger
“As Black female entrepreneurs, we are determined to break generational curses, create a legacy that our great, great, great-grandkids can benefit from, in addition to building a sisterhood where we fix our sisters in entrepreneurship’s crown because we know that it’s imperative to succeed in a world that we’re often looked at as the underdog,” explains Powell.
Paying it forward moves you forward
“Although we may face challenging moments and may want to give up when starting a business, I’m thankful to know that in 2021, we have built multiple communities to help educate, inspire, and connect one another so we don’t have to face those challenges alone for too long,” Powell says. “I am an advocate of sharing what I know, and what I’ve learned throughout my entrepreneurship journey with other Black female entrepreneurs because I am blessed to have a tribe who feeds into my success, too. I tell female entrepreneurs that in business you can’t rely on your family and friends to support you all of the time. It’s your responsibility to create a community on and off social media that sees your value and want to invest in your business.”
A bit about Powell’s tribe
“When I meet women who are not in supportive tribes, I invite them to be part of mine,” Powell says. “My agency, Forward PR, ONLY serves female entrepreneurs. I have a private Facebook group named Women Transforming Visions To Brands and I have a six-week group coaching program, Vision To Brand, only for female start-up entrepreneurs who are ready to put their visions first and learn how to create an impactful and profitable brand.”