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A matter of confidence

Business coach John Bryans’ tips on how your own confidence levels affect business performance

Confidence plays a critical role in achieving success in all areas of your life. This is especially true in business whether you're in start-up mode or a growth phase. John Bryans, an experienced business coach, shares his tips on how you can maximise your confidence and improve your business.

Doubtless, before launching your exciting new venture, you will have invested considerable time and effort testing out your business proposition (is there a market?); undertaking a competitor analysis (why should people buy from me and not from them?); developing your business plan (do I have the resources/ infrastructure to satisfy customer demand and sustain my business?); and formulating your marketing strategy (how do I reach my customers?).

While each element is pivotal, there is another key ingredient required to becoming a successful business owner; having the courage, self-belief and confidence to make things happen. Perhaps because we feel uncomfortable questioning our self-confidence, it is often brushed over or accepted as a given. In truth, a lack of self-confidence is more corrosive to your chances of success than a temporary cashflow problem or a dwindling order book. At least with the latter you can work up options and hopefully find solutions… providing you have the confidence to do so!

Let's firstly clear up a common misconception. Self-esteem and self-confidence are generally perceived as synonymous. They're not. As any good sports commentator will tell you: form is temporary, class is permanent. For form and class read confidence and self-esteem. Self-esteem is essentially a constant. It embodies who you are, your core beliefs and values, your unique talents and, above all, your acceptance of self-worth. It is not contingent upon short-tem successes.

Self-confidence, on the other hand, is much more dynamic. It can be easily lost and quickly regained. Everyone experiences highs and lows. If someone tells you otherwise they're either being disingenuous, arrogant or delusional.

Cast your mind back to when a person you respected – maybe a teacher, former boss or an important client – praised your work. How did it make you feel? In that moment, you probably felt capable of achieving anything (well almost anything!) and energised to tackle the next challenge. Compare this to a time when a sales presentation fell flat or you received some other piece of negative feedback. Your confidence swingometer suddenly plummets. Unchecked, this will impair your personal well-being and the health of your business.

Reflect for a moment. Would you recommend a business adviser devoid of self-confidence? I thought not. Why? Because we buy from people who exude confidence and offer reassurance. In short, regardless of what business you're in you need to inspire confidence. And if you have no confidence in yourself, don't expect others to have any either.

Here are some ways you can regulate and maximise your confidence.

  • Acknowledge and value your achievements – Write down all your achievements to date. Stop when you reach 100 and remind yourself of these when you next hit a confidence black spot.
  • Manage your negative self-talk – If your inner voice keeps telling you “you'll never succeed” “you'll never win that contract” “you'll never deliver that knockout sales pitch” … fire your destructive backseat partner. Now replace them with a champion that reminds you: “you can, you really can and you will”.
  • Deal with setbacks and move on – Keep things in perspective. When things don't go to plan, embrace constructive feedback, learn from it and live to fight another day. Stop looking at the past for excuses in the present.
  • Value feedback but don't give your confidence away cheaply – We all seek acceptance and shun rejection but don't build your confidence around the opinions of others. As the US former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, said ‘No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent'.
  • Set realistic expectations – Perfection imprisons rather than empowers. Always aim to exceed your personal best but don't set unrealistic outcomes.  Set yourself challenging goals which you are capable of achieving. Once achieved, continuously raise the bar.
  • Stretch your comfort-zone – Greatest personal growth occurs when operating outside of our comfort-zone. Each week resolve to do something (anything) which places you in your stretch-zone. Take calculated risks and turbo-boost your confidence.
  • Seek inspiration from others but be authentic – Get inspirations from others – read autobiographies, observe how confident people act and project an aura – model these behaviours but remember to be YOU!
  • Take action – Confidence only grows from making decisions and taking action. If you find you're procrastinating, ask yourself why and then act!
  • Find a coach or mentor – Working with a professional coach or trusted mentor will help you recognise and talk openly about what's holding you back, support you in developing greater personal resilience, and ensure you unleash the confident person you desire to be.
  • Love what you do – It's difficult to be confident doing things we dislike. Be passionate about what you do and don't forget to celebrate your successes.

John Bryans was recently short-listed for Business Mentor of the Year in the Yell Mentoring Works Awards for his mentoring on


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