At the Women’s Business Centre, we have the real honour and privilege of helping women start up and grow their own businesses. On a daily basis it never ceases to amaze us the creativity, courage and confidence displayed by so many women when they decide to realise their dreams and start up their own business, whether that is as a sole trader or as a limited company.
You are creative…and you are courageous. You are here with us right now after all, taking the first steps to set up your own business, so we know you are!
Yet it’s sometimes said, both by ourselves and by others, women lack confidence. It’s not far off the mark to say the most common concern we hear from potential new women business owners is “I lack confidence”.
It’s true that it can be a bit nerve-wracking when you are starting a new business – it would be unusual not to have some doubts about your skills and abilities when you are doing something you have never done before. But that’s not a lack of confidence, that’s a lack of skills in a new area. And skills can be learned.
Women are generally pretty confident (and absolutely competent!) in the many roles we have in our lives and work, but we tend to display our confidence in different ways to men. We don’t tend to shout about ourselves as much and tend to keep our heads down and get on with the task in hand, hoping that our good work will be recognised someday.
But sometimes we can appear to lack confidence and consequently appear to be indecisive as we take time to come to more considered decision…and that’s quite a different thing altogether.
Here’s one quick tool you can use this week to appear more confident and come across to others as strong and clear in your decisions. And once you appear more confident you will start to feel more confident, and you will bust that ‘I lack confidence’ myth in no time at all.
Have a look at the emails you send. How often do you apologise, use the word ‘just’ or preface your point of view with the phrase ‘I think’?
Why do you need to say sorry all the time? Fill in sentences with weakening words like ‘just’? Dilute your viewpoint or statement of fact with ‘I think?
Have a quick look through your past week’s emails – you will no doubt be horrified by the number of times you do some or all of the above. Re-write some of them, taking out all these confidence-sapping words and phrases. Instantly you will see your communication transformed into a confident, decisive, clear piece of writing from a confident businesswoman. (Ok, sometimes you do need to say sorry, and sometimes you really are ‘just thinking’, but not nearly as often as you do right now!).
Now try this technique out with some emails you want to send this week. Write the email as you normally would, then review it and take out all the confidence-sapping words that will no doubt have automatically crept in. How does it read now? Confident? Clear? As if it’s coming from a leading businesswoman?
Next start removing the same useless words from your speech. This is not quite as easy, it takes a bit of time and practice to get over such an ingrained conversational habit, but it’s worth the effort, so persevere!