I’m opening a business and although I am not inventing something new, I am still building it from scratch. I am dependent on my own energy and motivation. I am working from my own initiative and in solo mode, mostly in a vacuum, which is a bit ironic because this is the problem the business I am creating, is aiming to solve.
But I’ve hit a problem, not with the business, but with me.
Every time I am asked what I’m doing, I feel embarrassed, and even feelings of shame slip in? I can’t help imagine that people are thinking that I can’t pull this off. Who am I to do something like this without any proof of having created a business or done something similar? Who is this amateur, this child playing an adult game?
This has been bugging me these last few days.
Why do I feel like an amateur and on top of it feel apologetic about it?
Sure, what do I know about creating a business; I’ve never done something like this before. I have no evidence that I can make it happen, but should this be a problem?
When I first started analysing my feelings I came up with a most ridiculous and perhaps shallow explanation. I’m 37 years old, and up until now I have lived a pretty responsible- and barrier-free life, I certainly don’t feel my age, perhaps more of a 26 year old, and I guess some people would think I also act like it in comparison to ‘society standards’. I don’t have a defined career, partner, family and even a home. I wonder if in fact people do look at me as a youngster and think ‘this kid isn’t capable of building this business’. BUt this seems utterly outlandish to think.
If I look back in time I notice that this ‘feel like an amateur’ thing tends to show up when I am doing something for the first time; stepping into unchartered waters, standing outside of my comfort zone. When I look closer at these examples, I know that as soon as I have experienced the unknown space, I feel a lot better having been able to identify where I am and what I am doing. I feel empowered by the lessons and experiences coming from being uncomfortable. And so, I realise that when some of the unknowns become a bit clearer, it makes the ground a bit more stable for me to build on.
Perhaps this more reasonable inner analysis (and not the first one) makes more sense when I look at the definition of amateur, which is a person who is not yet a professional; one who is lacking experience and competence. Everybody starts out in life as an amateur in everything, and everything new is located outside our comfort zone. Before I go on, I want to be clear about something. This feeling of being an amateur is not the same as the imposter syndrome (aka feeling like a fraud). This generally comes from after you have been doing your thing and being successful at it, and in spite of your achievements you feel like you will be caught out as undeserving of your successes. This doesn’t describe what I am currently feeling.
So, the issue I’m tackling with is this amateur feeling.
I know that the pressure I am putting on myself is probably largely based on assumptions (coming from the little voices in my head), and not fact. I am making an assumption of what I think people are thinking about me and expecting of me. But the reality is, I don’t know what they are thinking, I haven’t actually asked them, and until I do ask them this question, then I really need to stop these ‘brain stories’.
What am I going to do about it?
I think acceptance is where I need to start. Yes, I am an amateur because this is all new to me. But wait a minute, why does it feel so negative? I seem to have attached a negative connotation to the term amateur. I am quite aware that being an amateur doesn’t mean I am not capable of doing this work. But I can’t help feeling embarrassed as if I shouldn’t be given this right to build my own business, to do something I love and earn a living doing it.
This is getting deep. I really need to figure out how I need to not let my unsubstantiated feelings of being an amateur get in the way. I’ve come up with an approach that I’m going to test out.
The first thing I can do is not let these feelings have a place in my thoughts. Then, I think the next step is to not attach a negative meaning to being an amateur, because everyone inherits this title throughout their lives. Even well seasoned entrepreneurs are amateurs every time they create a project outside their industry competencies. I need to find a more positive attitude to being an amateur entrepreneur. It may be the first time I am doing a business from scratch, but it doesn’t make me any less capable of giving it a go. It’s only from practicing will I move from an amateur entrepreneur to an experienced one.
I have experienced this feeling of being an amateur many times, and I know it goes away; I just can’t let it get in the way.
Why I started writing and why this topic
This is my first piece of writing, and it may seem a bit of a strange topic to have started with, but the vacuum that I currently work in, forced me to head butt this ‘amateur feeling’. It was really annoying me and I wanted to understand it. In the process, I wondered how many people out there have gone through or going through something similar.
This is my first time down the entrepreneurial path, from concept to action and creation. There are things I know and don’t know, and for this I am here to soak up and share as much as I can. I am not afraid to ask for assistance in whatever forms it comes: support, advice, feedback, criticism, expertise, etc. I think it’s important to be open, honest and unafraid of sharing with people the hidden (and not always rosy) details of what it’s like to start your own business. Let’s see what this week brings up for my next story.