We all know how good you feel when you’re high on confidence; you communicate better, you think more clearly, you’re more likely to try new things and inspire other people. Put simply, when you’re confident your business is confident and more likely to do well.
But confidence is one of those annoyingly fragile emotions, which is great when you have it but can be all too easy to lose. It might be a tirade from an impolite customer, a knockback from a stressed colleague or even a casual comment from a friend, but it only takes a few imperfect words and suddenly you’ve gone from the top of your game to feeling full of doubt.
Here are some of my tips for building confidence in yourself, even when the going gets tough.
Turn it on
You will often hear people say that confidence is a ‘state of mind’. But what does this mean exactly? The way I think about it is that there are certain hacks and shortcuts you can take to make yourself seem confident even if deep down you are anything but. On one level, confidence is a performance.
So, for example, you can appear more confident by speaking confidently. Try not to stammer and clam up, say what’s on your mind clearly. It also helps to be assertive, not by being rude or talking over others, but making sure you take the opportunity to put your views forward. It might also help to dress in a certain way, try and maintain eye contact and avoid fidgeting and mumbling.
Most important is to find a few things you can do to feel at your best and deploy them in situations where you want to turn the confidence on.
Do the basics well
Very often a truly confident appearance is only the tip of the iceberg. It is built on the knowledge you have everything in place - or as much as possible - to be able to measure up to any challenges you might face.
In business, getting into this position comes down to lots of the basic principles of doing your job well; things such as proper research and planning and having a clear vision of what you want to achieve. It might even be as simple as having a coherent agenda for an important meeting.
It’s important to take time to ask yourself the question: ‘What do I need to know to feel confident?’
When have you felt good?
To try and hack into a seam of confidence it can be helpful to think back to times when you have performed well. Think about that pitch that you won or the successful job interview and ask yourself ‘why?’ Why did you do so well? How did you prepare? Try and emulate this at times when you’re feeling unsure of yourself.
It’s equally important (but perhaps not as much fun) to think back to times when you were low on confidence and things didn’t go so well. What went wrong? What mistakes did you make? How can you avoid repeating them again?
Get some help
Being your own boss is hard work. You’ve got to plan for the future, learn from your mistakes and constantly adapt and that’s all in addition to running the business day-to-day. If you’re having issues with your confidence at the same time it can soon become a nightmare.
It can be easy to forget that you are allowed to ask for help and, even better, there are lots of people out there who want to give you support and advice. Even the most successful business people had to start somewhere and they know all too well how tough it can be.
Social media and TED talks are good places to hunt for inspiring advice or you could look into formal mentoring and support from organisations like ourselves (TEG), Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and so on. There are also plenty of established entrepreneurs who will be only too happy to go for a beer or a coffee and let you ask them for advice. Sometimes it’s just a matter of picking up the phone.
Remember that everyone struggles
We’ve all had that feeling when we’re struggling ourselves and we look at other people and think ‘If only I could be like them? How do they do it? It looks so easy!’ Well, the truth is that most people are in a battle of some kind. No-one is born confident (in fact that would actually be a serious disadvantage!) and everyone has doubts and has to come up with ways of dealing with them.
The very fact that you see confident people around you is testament to how you can feel confident as well, with the right attitude and approach.
Listen to the good stuff
It seems that human beings are all too often attuned to hearing criticism over praise. Of course, criticism and feedback are vital if you’re to improve and grow. However, when it comes to boosting your confidence, it’s better to indulge yourself a little by remembering the good feedback and compliments you’ve received.
Don’t just rely on other people for feel-good feedback, but think about some of your successes and give yourself a mental pat on the back from time to time. How are you meant to feel confident if all you ever do is criticise yourself?
Look after yourself
Sometimes it might feel like you just don’t have the option of taking time out of your business. However, often this is exactly what you need to do. It’s hard to feel mentally sharp and super confident when you’re shattered. Exhaustion can lead to a dangerous spiral of poor performance resulting in an even greater workload.
If you take a day off the world won’t end and, in fact, you’ll probably return to work feeling a whole lot better. The same goes for making time for exercise and hobbies and, really importantly, sleep. Healthy sleep is one of the best performance enhancing drugs on the market, so take some time out and tuck yourself in.
If you’re not so confident, but know your stuff, take a look at some of the many brilliant TED talks out there. Confidence is something you can get to grips with, and learn how other converse their ideas and knowledge.
Hope you enjoyed this read!
We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded over £16,000 from Cumbria Community Foundation to help young people in West Cumbria develop their own business.
The funding includes £10,000 from the Beverley Trust Fund and £6,976 from the Live the Dream Fund and will support twenty 16 - 25 year olds, living in the Allerdale and Copeland areas, to access the online training programme and discover how to start their own business.
Annalee Holliday, Grants & Donor Services Officer at Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “It’s thanks to our fundholders and supporters that we are able to provide financial support charitable organisations like TEGVirtual. The past year has been particularly difficult for young people, with many seeing their plans for the future turned upside down. This funding will give them an opportunity to overcome some of the difficulties they might be facing right now by building confidence and gaining new skills that will stand them in good stead as they become young adults, while inspiring a new generation of young entrepreneurs.”
Those young people who gain a funded place on the course will learn about idea validation, accounting, marketing, sales, management, leadership and business development. They will be encouraged to think about starting their own business with the support of the TEGvirtual team and also have lifetime access to support through the peer-to-peer network.
The unique thing about TEGvirtual is that it is not just a grant to get people started or give a finite amount of support or backing. This is a lifetime support programme to ensure people set up a business in the right way and continue to grow and make it a success.
The impact of COVID19 is real and a worrying time for young people as exams are cancelled places at university in the balance and competition for jobs or apprenticeships on the rise. We want to show them that there is an alternative and that running a business could be for them. We want to inspire future entrepreneurs giving them hope for the future and helping the local Cumbrian economy! We are so grateful to have received this funding and know it will have a huge impact on those twenty young people’s lives.
TEGvirtual is for all aspiring entrepreneurs not just young people and we are applying for additional pots of funding to support other people. We want to help those who are unemployed, ex-services, ex-offenders and people affected by COVID-19 who may have sadly lost their jobs. We want to help as many people as we can start and grow their own business so are keen to access more funding to free up more places on the programme.
If you are aged 16-25, live in the Allerdale or Copeland area and have a business idea, we would like to hear from you.
In the first instance please fill out the application form to find out if you qualify for funding.
I have the feeling that fundamental things are changing and whether they are changing for the better only the future will decide.
Here’s just a few of the things that are changing for us as a business:
- The way we interact – this now is predominantly phone calls and MS Team meetings
- The way we do business travel – there isn’t any but that will change when all this is over, but will it be the same? Will we go back to having to make so many journeys that screw up the planet?
- The way we bank – although that’s be changing for some for a long time, I can see massive changes in this sector
- The way people are viewed – in the UK Mike Ashley (Sports Direct) and Tim Martin (JD Wetherspoons) and even Richard Branson didn’t cover himself, or Virgin, in glory by asking for a bail out given he’s a multi billionaire.
These are just a few of the things that could change forever in the business world, and rightly so, maybe it’s the order of things to change every once in a while, it’s happened many times throughout history.
Has it taken a global pandemic to waken us all up to the fact that things need to change, but are we listening? We will see!
As a business we rely on getting people in a room for our training, as most training companies do at the moment, but could that change? Maybe something like AR could help, my feeling is its not too well developed for that just yet. At the moment nothing beats the interactions of people in a room, for now.
Maybe we will see a rise in AR similar to what MS Teams and Zoom have experienced for meetings, who knows.
A lot of this is guess work as we don’t really know what will happen as things return to normal, whatever that is or was. But I have the feeling this pandemic has caused not only pain and misery but also hope… hope that we can change and find different and better ways to communicate so we can make a difference to the planet and each other.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the changes we are all witnessing.
It’s a long read but this is a great piece on how society is changing during this pandemic. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/31/how-will-the-world-emerge-from-the-coronavirus-crisis
I have been asked a few times this week if now is a good time to start a business?
Normally I would say anytime is a good time, but there is one big stumbling block, meeting clients and others critical to starting your business. Yes, you can speak to them virtually but it’s not the same as meeting up in person.
But should that stop you? No not really!
If you have an idea and it’s a good one, that’s assuming you’ve validated it in all the usual ways, then I would say go for it. As most people hunker down and try to ride out this storm others will be growing their business in ways they never thought possible. This gives you an advantage because the competition is quiet.
All I would say is make sure you don’t come across as profiteering and lacking empathy for what people are going through. Yes, you’re dealing with real people not businesses.
First thing to do is speak to your accountant or bookkeeper and find out what’s available in the funding arena as you might get all the help you need financially to get started without having to wait.
The bottom line is if you have an idea and it’s a good one go for it.
WHAT ABOUT PIVOTING YOUR EXISTING BUSINESS?
This could mean doing something you wouldn’t normally do. So, say you’re a builder and work has dried up, you could help in the building and fitting out of the new hospitals etc, there is always work if you’re willing to make a few changes.
All I would say is be true to yourself and your business, only do what you feel comfortable doing.
Work is out there if you want it.
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought over the weekend and as things stand we all anticipate that business, probably life, will never be the same again once this crisis is over.
With that in mind what will be your new supply and demand if things do change?
For me it could be that people are reluctant to start their business, they might put it on hold, I think that’s a mistake, but maybe I would say that, the reason not to wait is obvious, opportunity.
There will be a lot of opportunity for the rest of this year, in an earlier post I said no ripping off or profiteering, but there will be a new supply and demand for us all, we just have to spot it. I actually think its happening now for some.
I urge you to think about this while we’re going through this quiet time and take action.
Reflect on where you are now and where you want to be in 12 months’ time and go for it. This is the perfect time to plan and get your strategy in order, plus as most of us are working from home, everyone is ‘online’ 24/7 making getting in front of people even easier.
So again, make your plan, create your strategy and go for it. It’s now or never.
If you want to talk it through let me know and I’ll send you the relevant links and times.
I have been thinking about putting a strategy document together for change and growth in challenging times, let me know if you’d like a copy.