A colour headshot against a plain dark background of British serial entrepreneur and investor, David Newns
Serial entrepreneur and investor David Newns believes that impostor syndrome can be harnessed and turned from a negative experience into a positive one

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How serial entrepreneur David Newns turns imposter syndrome into a secret weapon

By David Newns, serial entrepreneur, investor and one of the youngest execs on the FTSE

Sheryl Sandberg, former COO of Facebook and a billionaire businesswoman, once admitted, “Every time I didn’t embarrass myself or even excelled, I believed that I had fooled everyone yet again. One day soon, the jig would be up.” These aren’t the words of a phony or a fraudster, but rather the sentiments of someone who, like many of us, has grappled with imposter syndrome throughout her career.

If you’ve experienced that nagging sense of inadequacy, you’re in good company. Studies vary, but it’s clear that imposter syndrome touches at least half of us at some point in our lives. For entrepreneurs, this figure likely climbs even higher, easily exceeding 80%. The fast-paced business environment constantly presents new challenges, from meeting key performance indicators to facing fierce competition and impressing potential investors.

I, too, know this feeling well. Hailing from a humble background in northwest England, I started my first business at 26, sold it a few years later, and became one of the youngest-ever FTSE 100 executives in the UK. Throughout this journey, doubts occasionally crept in: Was I truly up to the task?

However, much like Sheryl Sandberg, I’ve come to view imposter syndrome not as a hindrance but as a powerful asset in the entrepreneurial realm. Here are the key principles I’ve embraced to transform fleeting feelings of inadequacy into a strategic advantage.

  1. Redefine Failure

The first step is changing how you perceive imposter syndrome. While its name implies weakness, it’s not a disorder but a mindset that can be reshaped and leveraged with the right approach.

Start by acknowledging that everyone makes mistakes—no exceptions. These errors don’t signal a lack of capability or suitability for your role; instead, they provide opportunities for growth. Failure, after all, is a valuable teacher.

In the unforgiving entrepreneurial landscape, blunders lurk around every corner, whether you’re launching, scaling, hiring, firing, seeking capital, or trying to sell. Accepting that mistakes are inevitable takes the sting out of imposter syndrome, making it a reminder that each misstep offers a lesson.

  1. Befriend Your Inner Critic

Taming the hostile inner monologue can be challenging. The voice that second-guesses decisions, shies away from new opportunities, and questions your worth is a formidable adversary. Or is it?

Consider a different perspective: why not view your inner voice as a benevolent coach offering guidance and motivation rather than a saboteur of self-confidence? Transforming your mindset takes time, but with positive self-talk and visualization, you can build a constructive relationship with that inner voice.

  1. Seek Support

Overcoming imposter syndrome isn’t a solo endeavor. During moments of acute self-doubt, breaking free from the echo chamber of your thoughts becomes essential.

Engage in open conversations with colleagues, friends, and family members to alleviate the discomfort of a confidence crisis. While it may be challenging, verbalizing your doubts is a potent way to weaken their grip.

Consider seeking a business mentor, someone who’s weathered the storm of entrepreneurship and likely confronted imposter syndrome themselves. Their firsthand experience will reinforce the idea that true innovation demands a disruptive mindset and a willingness to break free from the norm. Ironically, feeling like an outsider or imposter is often a sign that you’re on the right track.

  1. Embrace Your Inner Imposter

Imposter syndrome, at its core, reveals that you’re challenging yourself, pushing boundaries, and stepping out of your comfort zone—all essential ingredients for entrepreneurial success.

Converting imposter syndrome from a destructive force into a strategic asset requires practice. Understand that failure is a growth opportunity, derive motivation from your inner monologue, and seek advice from trusted individuals.

Mastering this art will transform moments of self-doubt into a competitive advantage, propelling you toward your full potential. So, fellow entrepreneurs, remember this: Embrace your inner imposter!

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Rob McDonald .

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