Working in creative and digital media, it’s very common to interact with people that are next-level confident. I meet a seemingly endless stream of marketing industry folks who know exactly what they’re doing and are 100% eager to tell you about it. Sadly, I don’t measure up in the confidence department. In fact, in my own mind, I’m a bonafide imposter.
You’d think that of all the things needed to have your own startup marketing agency, a hefty dose of imposter syndrome isn’t one of them. And yet, here I am, about to enter my second year as the co-owner of Good Egg Digital Marketing. So, can you have imposter syndrome and own a startup marketing agency? I’m still figuring it out but it seems that yes, you can.
24/7 Imposter Syndrome
My inability to trust myself not to be an idiot is a theme that runs through most elements of my life. Recently, after moving into a new Airbnb in Mexico (where I’m currently travelling), I took cold showers for three days. I did this not as a Wim-Hof-style attempt to get more zen/live forever. It was because I was convinced I wasn’t using the archaic electric system properly and didn’t want to mention it to the landlord for fear of being shower-shamed. Of course, it turns out I’m entirely able to follow basic shower-related instructions. The landlord had forgotten to switch it on at the mains. Gracias for that, señor.
The reason I’m making you picture me in a freezing cold shower is that this experience was very ‘me’. It sums up the ways in which I always assume I don’t know what I’m doing. That I’m not capable. I frame myself as an eternal underdog when really, I’m anything but.
An Eternal Underdog?
The place I feel this underdog mentality most is at work. Imposter syndrome is pretty much my entire personality from the moment I open my laptop in the morning. Despite my degree and ten years of experience in digital media, I’m still somehow able to convince myself that I have zero clue what I’m doing. When speaking to people about what I do for work I constantly downplay my abilities. Anyone who’s met me will have no doubt heard me mutter “ah I just do some freelance writing”.
And there’s truth in this statement: I do write on a freelance basis. But there’s no just about it. I’ve been steadily growing my client base and increasing my rate during the five years since I left my last “proper” job and decided I’d be happier forging my own career path. I get most of my new work via recommendations from current and past clients. And, as far as I know, I’ve never disappointed a single person I’ve worked for. That surely means I’m good at what I do, right?
Have You Liked Your Own Facebook Business Page?
In the past year, I’ve transitioned from solopreneur to being a partner in a startup marketing agency. But if I can’t believe in myself, how am I supposed to promote my own digital marketing business, I hear you wondering? And more importantly, how can I possibly expect to convince clients that I’m the person they should be partnering with on their content? I mean, it was only while writing this blog that I realised I hadn’t actually ‘liked’ the Good Egg Facebook page. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so infuriating.
The thing is, I don’t envisage this type of behaviour ever totally changing for me. I don’t think it’s possible to fully shake off imposter syndrome. However, I will say that the only thing working for me in any real way is to stay in my own lane.
When Holly and I were setting up Good Egg in early 2021 I went into overdrive with the list of services I said I could bring to the table. I added things to our website’s list of offerings regardless of whether or not I felt completely confident doing them. To be clear, I wasn’t pretending to be good at things just to take a client’s money, but some of the services I listed just aren’t my key strengths.
Looking back, I was overcompensating because I thought I wasn’t bringing enough to the table. I felt like I didn’t know how to do enough for someone who wanted to start a business offering ‘a one-stop shop’ of digital marketing services. What I overlooked is that by partnering with Holly, I didn’t need to offer more than the two things that I’m highly skilled at. That’s the entire point of teaming up: to combine forces and fill in each other’s gaps.
Can You Have Imposter Syndrome & Own a Startup Marketing Agency?
Starting Good Egg has taught me that the best way to minimise my imposter syndrome is to stay in my own lane. To focus on the things I’m legitimately good at and continue working on strengthening those skills. Doing this not only helps me silence the voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough, but it also allows me to offer genuine value to my clients. In the long run, this is surely a better approach than one that makes me feel like an imposter.
And I have to remember that I can’t be the only business owner feeling like this. Surely that makes me a good option for clients who are also feeling a little impostery. Better me than an overconfident digital bromad slinging jargon so fast it makes your head spin, no?
So, can you have imposter syndrome and also be a CEO? Absolutely. It’s about feeling the doubt and doing it anyway. The most difficult part is getting over the fear of liking your own Facebook page. Once you’ve nailed that, the rest is really rather easy.
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If you’re interested in working with me on the two things I’m excellent at (content and copywriting services for eCommerce and digital products) get in touch. We’re offering a 5% discount on all our writing services with the code IMPOSTER. Send us a message and mention the code to get started.