Man unsure of his future standing in city.

Working for Yourself: How to Fake It Til You Make It

It’s completely normal to feel insecure when you’re starting out. Pretty much everyone who becomes self-employed fears that someone, somewhere, somehow will expose you as the hack you are. They will find out you know nothing and you’ll be exposed as a big, fat faker.

Well, fear not.

People who have “made it” almost always admit that they spent a lot of time at the beginning of their careers waiting for someone to realize that they were, in fact, faking it.

If you’re going to make it on your own, you’ve got to leave your comfort zone. That most likely means a heavier workload, more responsibilities, and diving into the unknown.

That’s where a “fake it til you make it” attitude comes in. Here are some tips for faking confidence until you make it big as a freelancer or entrepreneur.

Be honest.

Faking confidence isn’t about lying to the world about your abilities; rather, it’s about projecting slightly more confidence than you actually feel.

It’s about pushing yourself a little outside of your comfort zone but still being capable of the tasks at hand.

Figure out what you’re lacking and work like crazy to bridge the gap to where you want to be– that way, you won’t need to fake it anymore.

Google stuff.

Anything you don’t know how to do, you just learn as you go. That’s the beauty of the internet.

Making Google your best friend is one of the best ways to feel confident. (And everyone who makes it on their own secretly Googles everything.)

Find a mentor.

Successful people usually love helping those just starting out.

Find someone who is willing to give you some guidance along the way. You’ll feel more confident just having someone to talk to.

Mimic successful people.

Find the people who are doing what you want to do and pay attention to their skills and how they handle themselves.

Aside from experience, what makes them so good? Figure it out and apply it to yourself.

Read everything.

If you’re going to be a master, you’ve got to put in the time to learn.

Whatever your profession is, there are probably lots of books on it. Or YouTube tutorials. Or blog posts. Or online courses.

You need to learn from the best, and the internet is an incredible resource for learning whatever it is you need to learn.

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Find your inner confidence.

If you aren’t confident in your abilities and what you can do, then no one else will be either.

Don’t be cocky, though. There’s a difference.

Get better at what you do.

“Fake it til you make it” should be a temporary state, unless you want to feel like a faker forever.

You’ve got to put in the effort. The harder you work to deliver quality work to good clients, the closer you’ll be to not faking.

Make yourself seem a little bigger.

If your operation appears a little larger, you might start to feel the same. One way to do this is to shift your thoughts from yourself to your goals.

Look the part.

You and your business should be consistently branded, which will help give you credibility when you’re starting out. The right logo, a user-friendly website, a catchy name, and more than five followers on social media (for social proof) are a must.

A lot of clients/customers will initially judge you based on these types of things, especially if you don’t already have a killer portfolio.

Get a roster of clients, fast.

The more work you do, the more people will hear about you, and the more clients you will get. This may or may not include doing some freebies along the way just to build your book.

Get an office (or coworking space).

A good coffee shop can do the trick for client meetings, but having an office space can help. Coworking spaces are great because they’re usually month-to-month, and you can choose a shared space or a private office.

There’s something for everyone’s budget.

Believe that you’re capable.

Sometimes it might feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can even fit in your mouth, let alone chew. You start thinking, “How did I get here? What if I blow it? Why do these people even trust me?”

You need to work past that, because if you don’t believe in yourself, who will?

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Walk in stupid everyday.

The co-founder of Wieden and Kennedy, Dan Wieden, once said:

“When you don’t know, you try desperately to find out. But the minute you think you know, the minute you go– oh, yeah, we’ve been here before, no sense reinventing the wheel– you stop learning, stop questioning, and start believing in your own wisdom, you’re dead. You’re not stupid anymore, you are f*****g dead.”

The point is that no one ever knows; we just figure it out as we go.

Fail harder.

People in creative industries are often encouraged to fail– because you learn from it.

But instead of focusing on your bruised ego, it’s important to bounce back quickly. Get reinspired, instead of sliding down the corkscrew of self-doubt and self-pity.

The more wrong turns you take, the closer you are to the right direction, so don’t be afraid to fail!

Just get used to picking yourself up by your bootstraps and starting over again.

Be prepared.

When you’re running the show, you need to plan as extensively as a soccer mom taking her kids to Disney World. Every detail needs to be considered.

More prepared = fewer mistakes.

But if you do make a mistake (which you will), don’t beat yourself up. The more you learn from your mistakes, the closer you’ll be to “making it.”

It’s all about figuring out a process that works for you.

Make a plan.

While there is something to the whole “flying by the seat of your pants” thing, having a plan can boost your confidence.

Try making a workback schedule. What’s that? It’s something that reveals the milestones you’ll have to hit before reaching your end game. Once you decide how to work backward from where you want to be, you’ll have a clear picture of the steps you need to take.

Then you won’t have to worry about what comes next; you can just focus on getting things done.

Focus your attention on what you can do right now.

You may feel overwhelmed when you’re just starting out. A good way to combat that feeling is to take action on some of the smaller goals you can accomplish right now. That will help boost your confidence and help you tackle the bigger things.

One step at a time.

You’re not alone.

You may be a delicate flower or a unique snowflake, but you are not alone in this. Other people in your industry aren’t always sure of themselves, regardless of how long they have been in the game. And that’s okay.

All you have to do is focus more on the work and less on worrying about the work.

You’ll get there.

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