I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Imposter No More

In the last couple of months I have acquired some mentees - people who are looking to me for advice and support as they begin (or continue along) their journey to small business ownership.  At first it was just answering the odd question - like recipe queries, passing on recommendations for printing companies, etc. As time has gone on, the questions - and the interactions - have become a lot more involved. These wonderful, capable people all want my advice on maintaining stock levels, marketing, making financial investments, achieving that mysterious work/life balance...and all sorts of bigger questions that small business owners deal with every day.

I answer these people in the best way I know how, which is with brutal honesty, with love, and with the very big disclaimer that I do not know everything and do not claim to know everything, and that most of what I've learned thus far was via trial and lots of errors. Fact is, I think that until Biz Guy walked into my life (or more correctly, magically appeared into my email inbox), I'm not entirely sure I would have considered myself a business owner. Not REALLY, anyway. I was a cake maker...or if we're feeling very fancy, a pastry chef. A damn clever cake maker, but a cake maker nonetheless. It's really taken my relationship with him to feel like I'm not just an imposter in the world of business ownership. For a very, very long time I just kinda felt like I was muddling along, making decisions based on gut feel and kinda just hoping it would all work out. Truth is, I WAS doing all of that - and no way would I go back and do it differently - but it took another person observing for me to realise that there was actual value in all that muddling.

Isn't it interesting that I needed SOMEONE ELSE to validate my skills, my experience, my knowledge? It's almost as though I didn't really believe in myself until someone else came along and said, "You know what? You really ARE damn clever and you've really achieved a lot." On the one hand this makes me a little sad - to think that I didn't have enough self-belief to think that.  On the other hand, it makes me grateful to Biz Guy - and grateful to ME for even hiring Biz Guy at all - because now that I'm learning to believe, the business (and most certainly it's owner) are growing enormously.

I no longer feel like I'm an imposter in this whole business game, and nowhere is that more true than in my band of merry mentees, who are looking to me for advice, comfort and support and getting it in spades. By far one of the best side effects of having Biz Guy in my life is that our work together is very much like the stone thrown into the pond in so far as I have learned to believe in me, and I'm helping others to believe in themselves - and who knows who they too will influence into the future. Theoretically this passing on of faith in oneself has no end point.

I may not know it all (and I hope I never do, how boring!) - every single day I'm learning heaps more about what it means to run a business. I'm just a person who is still muddling along, but these days in a far more organised fashion - and I suppose that makes me worthy of being a mentor. I no longer feel like I'm faking it, and I think that shows...otherwise there is no way the people I'm helping would be attracted to me in the first place.

That there are people out there who trust my opinion, want my support and love, and who think I somehow have the answers to their problems...well, that in itself proves that I'm an imposter no more.

That perhaps I was not an imposter to begin with is besides the point entirely.

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