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November 14, 2009

The Business Owner's "Imposter Complex"

(photo courtesy of Megan Horsburgh)

In a recent consulting session I was struck by a client's poignant statement. She said that after 8 years of running a successful business (in which she has supported herself and several employees), she finally feels like a "real-business owner". Hum... I scratched my head and asked. "what do you mean?" She said that she had always felt like a fake and that it was mere luck that had been propelling her business forward over the years.

Ah ha, I realized she had suffered from the Business Owner's Imposter Complex!

A quick and easy definition provided by wikipedia of the Imposter Complex is when "sufferers are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Regardless of what level of success they may have achieved in their chosen field of work or study or what external proof they may have of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced internally they do not deserve the success they have achieved and are actually frauds. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they were more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be."

On further reflection, I thought about just how many business owners we connect with who also describe this same experience. Despite their talent, hard work and success they often do not own their identity as a REAL (and successful) business owner or entrepreneur.

When we started In Good Company, our mission was to "elevate the status of women business owners".

This goal was twofold:

First, to help increase recognition of an often overlooked demographic and the large economic impact that demographic is continuing to make at a breaking pace.

Second, on a more local, and arguably important level, we wanted to help more women see themselves as "REAL" business owners.

It reflects a critical shift in thinking, to go from thinking of yourself as a X (consultant, nutritionist, photographer) to understanding that you are truly an entrepreneur. To date these are the best kinds of testimonials and feedback that we receive!

-posted by Amy Abrams

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