Most, if not all of my clients have a confidence problem. That’s probably the single most common reason that people hire me, is because it has become exhausting trying to grapple with the issue and they want someone they trust to check their thinking, and to offer an opinion that hasn’t been biased by the voice of Imposter Syndrome.
The most common one is “Who am I to be running a business?” and the second most common one is “Who am I to call this a business?”
The two questions that haunt the self-employed are: “Who am I to be running a business?” and “Who am I to call this a business?”
Now, I could go the emotional intelligence route and explain that while you might feel overwhelmed and out of your depth, actually, everyone feels that way, they just get better at coping with it or ignoring it.
But I prefer to start with the facts.
Starting with the facts is like using logic when you’re lucid dreaming. What are the chances that I would show up at school topless? Zero? Right then, this must be a dream. What are the chances I would jump off a cliff just to see if I could fly? …. Well, not zero, but pretty low. Probably a dream.
And so it is with these “who am I?” questions.
Let’s start with the “this isn’t really a business” thing, because it’s the easiest to refute.
That’s Not a Business. THIS is a Business.
Contrary to popular opinion, most businesses are not big. Most businesses aren’t even medium sized. Look at this–>
- Of the 5.73 million businesses operating in the U.S., 3.5 million of them have 0-4 employees. That’s over 60%!
- Look at the long tail distribution in the graph. Want to bet which side drives the most revenue?
- The next infographic, also released from Business News Daily, uses data from recent Sage survey, reports that small businesses produces over 50% of the American GDP— not counting farms.
Just so you know, the GDP of the U.S. is over 13 trillion. You and people like you contribute almost 7 billion dollars of that!
Now, this infographic notes that a small business is defined as any business under 500 people.
But, it also notes that more than half of small businesses are home-based. That’s almost 2 million home based businesses in the U.S. alone. Canada, which has about one-tenth of the population of the U.S, has over a million small businesses — about twice as many small businesses per capita.
Did you notice that over 20 million Americans run businesses with zero employees? Sure that’s an old number, but I bet it’s only gone up since the global economic crisis.
That’s me. That’s my clients. That’s most of my readers. We are legion. We are not only economically productive, we drive the fucking economy.
But wait! There’s more….
(keep scrolling. It’ll be worth it, I swear.)
(No, seriously. There’s more pictures. Maybe even pictures of kitties.)
The Freelancer Question
One of the most frustrating things to me is how few freelancers think of themselves as business owners. In my opinion, refusing to acknowledge that you run a business (yes, with all the marketing and red tape that entails) causes many freelancers to run around with dangerous blinders on.
To borrow some language from The E-myth Revisited, it’s not enough to be a Technician. You have to be an Entrepreneur, or what I call, a Boss. (Because being a Boss sounds much cooler. Very retro.)
Because freelancing is a REAL BUSINESS. Don’t believe me? I have yet another infographic for you.
That infographic (small though the survey pool might be) ought to go a long way towards convincing you what an outstanding business model freelancing is. You’re relatively insulated from economic downturns, you set your rates and your hours, and you can delegate or outsource to others when you get busy.
Who Am I to call Myself a Business Owner?
You ARE a business owner. That’s as much qualification as you need. Any possible objections you have probably have data to destroy them.
- Female? Women own 30% of small businesses, and according to the above infographic, make up over 70% of freelancers. Not exactly a glass ceiling.
- Veteran or disabled? U.S census bureau reports over 2 million veteran-owned businesses in 2007, many of whom are disabled. Unfortunately, there is not very good information on how many businesses are run by people with disabilities, although in the words of one man, “The only one who’ll hire me is me”.
- Minority? About 13% of small businesses are minority-owned.
- Parent, single or otherwise? The second infographic mentioned that 2 million people have home-based businesses and the Family Liaison Office as well as the Small Business Administration provide a number of resources for parents looking to start a business.
There is nothing wrong with you; certainly nothing that will prevent you from succeeding in business.
Hopefully with the facts on your side, you’ll be able to shut up that nasty little voice inside your head.
Tell me, what was the most surprising fact you learned from all these infographics?