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Give Self-Esteem Issues the Boot

If low self-esteem is hampering your business success, here are several tactics to give it a boost.

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If self-esteem is getting in the way of your business, how doyou change your outlook? And is low self-esteem something womendeal with more than men? Jennifer Warwick, a women's careerstrategist and coach in Los Angeles, doesn't believe that onlywomen experience low self-esteem, but she points out that women dotend to be much more open than men about their self-esteemissues.

"Women are encouraged to build intimate and complexrelationships, and part of building trust includes being vulnerableand sharing your flaws," Warwick explains. "So it'sno surprise that self-esteem is often seen as a more'feminine' issue, especially in business."

For Cynthia Anderson, 36, president of CD Anderson, anaccounting firm in Raleigh, North Carolina, her teen years marked adecline in her confidence. "I had acne and was very thin. Thiskept me from pursuing activities I would have enjoyed and kept mein a corner. I was ashamed of who I was."

Today, Anderson has been in business about two years and alreadyprojects revenues of over $1 million. Business success, however,can only boost your self-esteem so much. "Women tend to dwellon their insecurities more than men," says Anderson. "Weexpect a lot from ourselves, and when we can't be everything toeveryone, we beat ourselves up."

"All that self-reliance can be isolating," saysWarwick. "And isolation further underminesself-esteem."

Warwick suggests women entrepreneurs take a realistic look attheir support systems. "Good friends and trusted advisors areessential and will hold your dream for you, even when you may doubtit," Warwick advises. "You must also be willing to let goof those who are not supportive of the dream."

Jennifer Read Hawthorne, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul,believes that learning to like and even love yourself is a lifelongprocess. "You can surround yourself with competent leaders,but you can never really compensate for low self-esteem. Sooner orlater, you will be discovered." Hawthorne recommends severaltactics for boosting self-esteem:

1. Make sure your business is your passion. Your lowself-esteem could be tied to not following your heart.

2. Associate with people who seem genuinely happy. Happypeople are usually at peace with themselves.

3. Ask for help. Don't try to work on your issuesalone.

Warwick agrees it's important for women to pursue theirpassions and also believes women need to manage their expectations.The perspective that "only perfection is good enough"limits advancement in both business and life.

"Re-examine what you think of as 'good enough.' Formany high-achievers, the concept of basic competence has mutatedinto flawless performance," says Warwick. "Take a deepbreath sometimes, and stop when something is 80 percent or 90percent perfect, then start on the next adventure. It'senormously liberating."

Anderson says the turning point for overcoming her ownself-esteem issues began in college, when she started joininggroups that interested her. "I had to move past myinsecurities and live the life I knew I was capable ofliving." In business, getting involved and meeting people isstill her best strategy.

"Get to know people [with] similar interests,"Anderson suggests. "If you find them fascinating, you must bepretty fascinating yourself."

Aliza Pilar Sherman is an author, freelance writer andspeaker specializing in women's issues.

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