“I was doing awesome on making my site. Then…all of a sudden while I was looking at other people’s websites I got imposter syndrome.

“Who do you think you are trying to do other people’s websites? You can’t even do your own. You are a big fake.”

— Recent post from a student inside the Facebook group of my Square Secrets & Square Secrets Business courses

Ughh. I so feel this. ☝

That fear that you are just mere moments away from people discovering you’re not the expert you claim you are.

That you’re secretly only one page ahead of them in the textbook, still scrambling to learn to do the thing you say you know how to do…

And that if you make even the slightest mistake, you’ll be publicly shamed and chased out of town by an angry online mob, virtual pitchforks in hand.

Yeah…not great in the motivation department when you’re just starting out in your business.

Oh, and these feelings aren’t just reserved for newbies, btw.

If anything, the more your business grows and your name and work are out there for the world to see, the more real those feelings become!

So if you’ve been telling yourself those fraudy feelings will pass once you’re “successful,” or as soon as you can get figured out in your business, I’m terribly sorry to say that isn’t the case!

But that’s not the end of the story for you, my friend!

Even though these feelings aren’t going anywhere soon, it’s what you do with those feelings that really counts!

So…how do we carry right on doing when self-doubt kicks in?

overcoming imposter syndrome as an online business owner

1. Don’t ignore the negative feelings or fears.

Wait…what?

Aren’t you going to tell me to ignore that tiny voice that’s telling me I’m a no-good, no-talent failure of a human being?

Nope. Just the opposite!

I want you to make room for those feelings.

Write them down and take a good long hard look at where they come from and whether they are actually true.

If you discover something isn’t true, cross it off in big bold strokes! ‍♀️

If after really looking it over, one of the fears or feelings you have seems like it might be a real cause for concern, what action can you take today to change it?

Sometimes the best way to overcome feelings of being a fraud is to spring into action and remind yourself that even if you don’t know the answers, you are the kind of person that will do what it takes to get it done!!

Moving forward in the face of anxious feelings takes just as much practice as learning your actual craft!

Oh, and don’t just wait until you’re experiencing self-doubt to address it!

Look at the goals you have for your business and try to think of all the fears and mindset struggles that you might come up against as you climb that ladder, and prepare a response in advance.

That way, when they do crop up, you’ll have already addressed them in your mind and can move forward anyway.

2. Be okay with not knowing all the answers.

Repeat after me:

“Not knowing everything does not make me a fraud.”

Say you’re a web designer, and your client comes to you wanting some super advanced feature on their site that is wayyyy outside the scope of what Squarespace can natively do, and it’s is going to require crazy amounts of custom coding – something you have zero clue how to do.

It’s 100% ok to be real with yourself and your client and say those three humbling yet magical words:

I don’t know.

Now that’s off your chest, you still have a duty to your client or customer, so you have two fabulous options for following up:

  • Learning how to do the thing you don’t know how to do.

    Literally everything is figure-outable, so if you don’t know the answer, but it’s something you’d like to be able to offer in the future, invest the time it takes to research that thing.

    Take that course. Binge all the free content you can get your hands on. Practice your little heart out. Then show up ready to answer the next time.

    Orrrrr…

  • Build yourself a solid list of recommended resources or industry pros to refer them to.

    Recommending another provider who specializes in the thing you don’t know how to do is not failing.

    You are actually doing your clients a major favor by making sure they are in the best hands for the job, especially if the thought of offering that thing in your own business doesn’t really bring you joy.

    Collabing with other pros is not only great for the client getting exactly what they need, but if you intentionally partner with someone who’s vibe and business attracts a similar type of client to who you are hoping to serve, than it can also turn into a fabulous source of super quality referrals when that other pro returns the favor!

    Just be sure that you are super clear about what your paid packages do or do not include so that there are no surprises when the clients ask for something outside the scope of what you offer (ie. coding, copywriting, branding, email marketing tech management).

3. Turn your focus outward, not inward.

When trying to start or grow a business, it’s hard not to feel pressure to get it right.

At the moment, your business is your whole world, and you feel like everyone is watching with bated breath to see if you will mess this thing up.

But I promise you your clients do not have you under the same microscope you have yourself under!

They don’t see all those little behind-the-scenes mistakes it takes to be constantly refining your client process!

In the end, they care about one thing more than anything else:

How did you make them feel?

The best testimonials – the ones that actually get fence sitters off the fence – rarely have to do with your ability to physically provide the service you said you would.

If they paid for a functioning website, and that’s exactly what they got, great…but probably not worth writing home about.

No! The most powerful, client-winning testimonials are the ones where the client talks less about you and more about themselves!!

My website was never bringing in any sales, and I was honestly so embarrassed to even send people to my website!

But after working with Suzy I can now confidently market my business and feel like people trust me more thanks to having a legit looking site! I felt so supported throughout the whole design process, and like she really took the time to listen to my needs and see my vision for my online store!

I’m so happy I said yes to working with her and I’m honestly obsessed with my new website!”

So the best way to overcome those phony feelings is to focus less on yourself and your own abilities, and more on your mission to serve others with what you do!

Are you thee absolute best in the entire world at what you do?

Probablyyyy gunna be a no.

(There’s only one #1 slot for 7.8-ish billion people so it’s probably already taken. It’s just math.) ‍♀️

During our recent live Q+A with past student and Squarespace web designer, Mariana Durst, I asked:

“Do you think your design skills are the #1 most important skill you’ve had to succeed? Or was there some other skill that was more important?”

Here’s what Mariana had to say…

“It’s not a skill. I think it’s a mission…a heart of what I do.

I’m not the best designer, I’m not the best copyrighter, but I care the most about my people, and I want to help them the most.”

So if you can pick a niche audience of people that you are truly truly passionate about helping and can focus all your energy on serving them the best way you know how, no one is going to mind or even notice that you don’t have it all figured out.

4. Invest in yourself.

If you’re experiencing major imposter syndrome symptoms when it comes time to market your services or mention your prices, I want you to ask yourself this…

Have I given myself the tools to succeed at what I’m offering? Have I invested the time and resources in honing my craft so that I can be totally justified in commanding these prices?

Going back to my live Q+A interview with web designer and past Square Secrets & Square Secrets Business student, Mariana Durst

When asked “How much of your own money did you invest in your business in the beginning? she said:

“I’ve always invested a lot on my professional development. That’s my biggest expense, and each year I spend more…never ask a client to pay more than you have invested in yourself.”



5. Be mindful of how much content you are consuming.

We have endless access to “inspiration.”

Podcasts, YouTube videos, blog posts, and infinity feeds of #dreamyaf Instagram accounts.

And it’s so so wonderful to know that there are people out there killing it at what we want to do, showing us it’s possible, and offering us their sage wisdom along the way!

But when you are constantly consuming content, even if it’s positive, it can be draining to feel like you have endless things to improve in your business and zero time to actually implement any of them.

So definitely keep learning, reading, watching and absorbing (I know I will! )

But try to pick the most important thing that will move you toward your goal, hit that pause button on the content and spend time doing that one thing well.

Then give yourself permission to take a mind-break from it all.

That being said, if you are in need of a really good read to get yourself in a super rah-rah, self-confident space then here are my favorite business & personal development books every online business owner should read!

6. Trade comparison for admiration.

Earlier this year I joined a Mastermind group of uber-successful women all running their own super impressive online empires.

These ladies are legit milesssss ahead of me in business and in reaching their goals.

And you know what?

I have zero shame in admitting I’m the least “successful” person in the room. ‍

I did this on purpose, btw.

Is it because I enjoy feeling like a failure by comparison? Nope.

But by being the smallest fish in the pond I have the most to learn and ultimately benefit from all the wisdom shared!

Our Mastermind Zoom meetups are FULL of mind-blowing milestones these ladies are reaching in their businesses on the daily, and it would honestly be soooo easy to compare it to where I’m at and think I’ve somehow missed the boat. ‍

It would also be super easy to catch “shiny object syndrome” and completely change my course because of what I see working for someone else.

But I’ve learned to take those feelings of inadequacy in light of someone else’s success and swap them for admiration and a mind open to learning from them instead.

We serve completely different audiences, but even if we seemed to share the exact same ideal client, our offerings and our business would still look 100% different just by the fact that we are two totally unique people.

So rather than pining over how great their end product is (and letting it distract me from my very different goal and direction) I’ve become obsessed with finding out their process and the choices they made that they felt worked or didn’t work along the way.

Looking for more tips for dealing with comparison in your business? Check out: Goodbye business comparison struggles: Here’s my solution

7. Save every encouraging word ever spoken about you or your business.

Screenshot those DMs, save those emails to their own special folder, save up those comments…

Then stick them somewhere when you can review them often!

If someone has taken the time to share how much you’ve helped them, store it away for a rainy day to remind yourself you are more than just the physical skills you can offer.

Pro-tip: saving all these little client love notes is also super beneficial when it comes to writing copy for your website, social media marketing, freebie content etc. because you will have a whole list of phrases and words that your ideal client uses in real life to describe their struggles and how you helped them overcome them!

So your copy can be totally tailored to the exact type of person you are hoping to reach!

8. Don’t go it alone!

I think the lie that we believe is that every single person we see killing out there, posting their flawless existence and crazy-successful business on Insta…these people wake up every day feeling perfectly motivated to do what they set out to do and 100% sure of themselves because, hello, look at their amazing track record.

So we convince ourselves that there must be something wrong with us for feeling this way, and that we should just shut up, put on our big girl pants, and find a way to deal.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

One of the best ways to deal with imposter syndrome is to realize that other people, whether they are newbies or total veterans in their industry are feeling the same way.

So don’t feel like you have to figure this all out by yourself.

Reaching out for help or support does not make you a fraud!

Seek out community, even if it’s just online. Facebook groups are a wonderful way to connect with other pros (or aspiring pros) who will be able to relate, encourage, and offer advice!

Actively look for ways to put people in your corner…and then be that same support for someone else!

I have found that the fastest way out of a fraudy funk is to spend time championing and encouraging other people.


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