Business Insurance

Be fearless! Confidence is key to building a successful business.

Is there a way to improve your confidence and become fearless when it comes to selling, pitching and “performing” in front of customers? The answer is yes! And improving your confidence could be the key to unlocking your potential and building a successful business.

I spoke to life coach, ex barrister and small business owner Hattie Voelcker to find out what confidence can do for business owners; how to build confidence and how it can help selling, pitching and growing a business. Here are her top tips for improving your confidence.

Believe that confidence is a skill you can learn

Hattie Voielcker, life coach, and owner of find your true voice, believes that confidence is a “skill not a talent” and that everyone can learn to improve their confidence. We need to forget our preconceptions that our characters are fixed and if we’re born shy or hate selling we can’t really change.

It’s the difference between having a “growth mindset” and a fixed self-limiting mindset. Researchers have proved that it’s possible for the brain to develop and for us to learn new skills right into old age.

Hattie works with musical performers to help them “find their voice” in front of an audience. She finds that even experienced performers can struggle to perform on stage. But with practise they can “learn” how to “free” their voice and “sing with more freedom and confidence.”

Hattie believes that, just like singers, business owners and professionals can also “learn” to become a “fearless performer”. They can “change” their “personality”, improve their confidence and learn how to become more confident in front of clients, customers and business contacts.

Be yourself

We often think that we have to put on an act to be good at selling or pitching. But the good news is that it’s actually better to “be yourself”. Hattie believes that unlocking your confidence isn’t about pretending to be someone else. It’s actually about having a “belief in yourself and what you can offer”. And being yourself means you’re authentic, which will help you to build good relationships with your customers and clients.

Don’t judge yourself

Hattie loves the famous quote from Henry Ford that “whether you think you can, or you think you can't—you're right”. Henry Ford realised that our mindset and confidence is a key part of our success.

It’s so tempting to judge ourselves and think we’re bad at selling or pitching. But not judging ourselves and thinking positive can make all the difference. Realising that no-one is judging you even if you make a few mistakes will “free” you from unnecessary anxiety. Your audience and business contacts are probably more interested in how they are coming across!

Every failure is an opportunity

Even successful business owners have times when things don’t go to plan. And Hattie believes that all of us sometimes “fall flat on our faces”. It’s knowing, “how to pick yourself up” that makes all the difference.

Confident business owners realise that it’s “ok to make mistakes” and view those mistakes as a learning opportunity rather than a failure. We should look at those “failures” with “non-judgemental observation” and try to work out what “didn’t work” and what we can improve next time.

Hattie lives by the famous quote from Thomas Edison. When a reporter asked him, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn't fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."

Don’t worry about perfection

Hattie says that worrying about perfection is holding many people back from improving their confidence. If we “think things have to be perfect” then it’s much harder to connect with an audience and it’s much harder to have a “growth mindset”.

Focus on your audience

Hattie believes that focusing on your audience will unlock your confidence as a business owner or professional. Remember that most people listen to a presentation or a pitch trying to work out “what will help them” and if you have something useful to offer.

Audiences and customers “connect with humanity” and aren’t actually bothered if you make the odd mistake. And we can use this knowledge to build better relationships with customers and other business owners. If you’re at a networking event or a one-to-one meeting, remember to “ask about them and their business” and remember that “everyone likes to be heard”. We often buy from people that we like and a big part of liking someone is for them to show an interest in us.

I asked Hattie if she has tips for recording a video for social media, something so many of us find scary. Her advice is the same as making a presentation. Try to “imagine people on the other side”, “remember what your audience wants” and “think about your message” rather than worrying about how you come across.

Have fun

Becoming a fearless performer is a feedback loop between the performer and the audience. “If you’re having fun” and enjoying yourself then that fun is infectious.

If you have an amazing business, fantastic product and incredible staff then you can have confidence in yourself and your business. Speaking, pitching or selling to customers is simply explaining to others what you already know about your business. If you have a great business then you’ve already done the hard part and you have an amazing reason to be confident.

Alice Guy

Alice Guy is a Suffolk-based business and personal finance writer. She trained with KPMG in London as a Chartered Accountant before working as a business analyst for Tesco Plc. Alice has personal experience surviving on a tight budget when she took time out to care for her young family. She loves to write about business finance, saving and investing—all the money stuff we were never taught at school.