How to Deal with Feeling Unqualified in Business

Man looking over desk

Making your own path in business requires authenticity and boldness. But it can be easy to fall into the trap of ‘faking it until you make it’. Learning to be vulnerable and acknowledge your blindspots is one of the best things you can do to build a long-lasting business. Here we will unveil constructive steps to let go of the shield of self-protection and deal with the root of feeling unqualified for business.

Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Fear of not being a recognised authority

Do you struggle with imposter’s syndrome- where you fear your inadequacies and lack of knowledge will be exposed? Is your confidence built on validation provided by customers, employees, family and friends and when your performance is overlooked, you start to panic?

Most of us bring a shadow into our business of self-doubt stemmed from past failures or critical words spoken to us that confirm our deepest fear- we are not good enough to be called an expert let alone qualified to be in business in the first place. It’s easy to conceal these thoughts and put up a veneer of self-confidence, as facilitated by social media platforms that aid us to put our best front on. However by not confronting our weakness and being honest with ourselves and others, we carry the weight of having to hide our insecurities and stay isolated from the people that can help us in our business endeavours.

Our culture puts a lot of weight on the individual. You work hard, invest in yourself and you will succeed. But this overemphasis on personal effort can overlook an even greater ingredient to success: you need to surround yourself with people better than you! Most of us have strengths but we are not great at everything. The more we try to do everything and be everything to everyone, the harder we make it to fulfill our potential.

If looking at your weaknesses is daunting, remember that great strength can come when we give our shortcomings to God. Like the Apostle Paul, we too can see that God’s power is available when we start to confront our limitations.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

One practical way to acknowledge your weakness and cultivate humility is to develop an advisory board as a way to reach out to colleagues and mentors. Realise you are only one person and that without accessing the strengths of others, you will never reach your potential in business. Not only this, but your business will never make the transformative impact needed for the Kingdom.

Melbourne university graduates
Photo credit: taoty / Shutterstock.com

Foster Passion and Dedication 

How to overcome fear of lacking credentials

Do you dodge questions about your formal qualifications? Are you still married to the idea that you need to go to business school to be qualified in business?

Out of the box thinkers can see themselves in a position of driving a business far bigger than expected because they went against the status quo and defied conventional wisdom by trying something different in their industry. This is not something to be ashamed about! It can be an advantage to be an outsider- a disrupter who is passionate for change. 

No amount of formal training can substitute passion and dedication. As celebrated entrepreneur Richard Branson highlights:

“Entrepreneurship is a great leveller, since having the benefit of a wealthy background or a generous investor isn’t always an advantage. The wonderful thing is that money is not the sole currency when it comes to starting a business; drive, determination, passion and hard work are all free and more valuable than a pot of cash.”

Being a maverick is your secret weapon in business. Bending the rules is necessary for innovation and growth. You will have critics as most entrepreneurs do but when you view your uniqueness as a key ingredient to your success rather than dismissing it, you’ll have the courage to be yourself and not bury your talents in the sand.  

Recognise Perfectionism Robs Us of Progress

Stop living up to unrealistic expectations

Do you spend a long time on tasks that could be done quickly because you want them done 100%? Do you feel shame if learning something doesn’t come easily to you?

Perfectionism in our culture has long been seen as a positive trait- what’s wrong with trying to live by high personal and professional standards? Perfectionism is not the same as pursuing excellence. The Greek word for perfect is actually teleios which signifies something being finished and complete. Perfectionism is an unhealthy mindset that we have arrived and are fully matured. It reveals something deep within us that is out of sync with the way we are made. We are actually trying to be like God who alone is perfect. Author and researcher into authentic leadership, Brené Brown, describes perfectionism this way:

“Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield.”

Living with little or no margin for error can be debilitating as mistakes are inevitable when you are growing a business and pushing the boundaries. Being a perfectionist also diminishes your wellbeing and makes you less immune to stress, with known links to significant health issues like depression and anxiety, social anxiety disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome and even post-traumatic stress disorder.  

As a Christian business owner, you don’t have to be a prisoner to perfectionism. Rather you can walk in the freedom that mistakes are necessary for growth and expansion in business. 

Faith is confidence

Take practical action to meet business challenges

Address the fear of not having what it takes in the long haul

What lies at your insecurity about the future of your business? Do you fear your current success is a fluke? It’s not uncommon for business owners and entrepreneurs to have moments of doubt, particularly when transitioning into a new phase in their business. While starting a business can be exciting, moving into a growth stage or stepping into maturity can bring with it uncomfortable growing pains. You may lose key staff, experience cash flow issues or are blindsighted by losing a big client.

Setbacks are inevitable but how you respond to these is not. We need to confront any fear that arises as we grow our business. When you are going through a tough season in business, you are not always in the best position to assess your future. Negative thoughts can creep in that distort your thinking and can rob you of your future if you are not careful.

Fear and faith cannot coexist. Fear looks like worst case thinking and is paralysing, damaging ourselves and the people around us. Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) talks about the kind of faith we need in all of life, including our businesses:

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

When we start to question our calling in business or consider recent challenges as disqualifying us for future success, we are not walking in faith. It’s possible to bounce back from failure and get back on track if you know God’s will for your business and walk in it, choosing to believe in Him and not your circumstances. Often those things we fear don’t even eventuate. One of the 20th century’s most significant figures, Winston Churchill says it best:

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened”

Don’t live with regret by living in fear. Embrace each new day knowing that what we feel within will eventually manifest itself. Pretense is the real vulnerability to a thriving business not perceived weakness or failure.

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