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How to find the confidence to run a business

Starting and running a business takes dedication and self-belief - but how easy is that if you’re lacking confidence?

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Business woman looks out for help finding confidence
Many people think you need to be outgoing and sociable to run a business

If you’re a shy person - the idea of running a business can feel overwhelming. 

How will you negotiate that big deal? Manage client relationships? Talk to suppliers and financial service providers? How will you tackle the dreaded networking, and approach strangers to sell your idea in a room full of people doing the same thing?

All of these things can feel daunting. And while outgoing people might seem like a natural fit for a lot of these activities, that discredits the unique and important skills a less naturally confident person can bring to the world of business.

It’s true to say that the number one skill you’ll need if you’re starting a business is confidence. Confidence in yourself, sure, but also unwavering confidence in your idea. And confidence isn’t only for the outgoing people of the world. 

Confidence can present itself in a number of ways. A loud person might seem confident on the outside, but they might just have the ability to speak effectively - the gift of the gab. Some people can naturally speak to a subject broadly, but then find they wither when put under pressure or asked for more detail. 

But if you thrive in more independent or quiet surroundings, you can still promote your business confidently. It can take some finding - it’s okay if you’re still working it all out.

To help, here are five things you can do to find the confidence within to help you run your business - all without needing to be the loudest person in the room.

1. Reflect on your plans

Many overly confident people have a tendency to try and run before they can walk. There’s perhaps less thinking, less reflection. While taking action is a fundamental part of running a business - reflecting on your idea and nurturing it will stand you in good stead. A business plan, for example, is one of the most important assets when you’re starting a business. 

Plenty of people get them wrong though. Not giving the plan enough thought. Not carrying out the necessary research. Not understanding the industry or market well enough. Having clear, rounded knowledge of these things not only makes for a more solid business plan, it also gives you the confidence to take things to the next level. 

Reflection is a great skill that might come more naturally if you’re shy or anxious. You might choose to reflect on your business, refine your products or services, gain a deeper understanding of the market or anything in between. Focusing on any of these areas can set you apart from others who might be rushing into things, helping you innovate and develop well thought out business strategies. 

2. Nurture meaningful relationships

Nurturing relationships in business is incredibly important. Presenting yourself as personable, friendly and approachable can all help make you and your business a success. 

These skills aren’t better honed by one personality type over another. If they were, that might suggest the shyer people amongst us can’t make friends while the more gregarious folk find it easy. But one thing less confident people might prefer is a smaller number of meaningful relationships over a larger number of superficial relationships. 

If that sounds like you - then you can almost certainly use that to your advantage. Taking the time to grow meaningful relationships with select clients, customers and suppliers can help in all sorts of ways. You can encourage loyalty from customers to you and your business, or you can negotiate the best price for supplies which you need to operate. If you can build these relationships it can lead to more stability in the long run. 

3. Listen to those around you

Have you ever been in a meeting or a situation where everyone seems to have a response to an idea, but you’re still thinking about the idea from every angle? Perhaps you’re internally interrogating each individual response too, still formulating your own opinion?

If that sounds like you, it means you’re a good listener - and that’s also a big advantage. While the loudest in a room is always happy to speak up - perhaps sometimes before engaging the power of thought - listening and responding later can make for a more considered response. 

When you’re running a business, you’ll be listening to a lot of people: your employees, your customers and your suppliers to name the obvious few. And each of these groups will appreciate the feeling of being listened to. If you have the ability to listen, consider and respond fully, then you can tailor outcomes to meet specific needs. That kind of response can go a long way. 

Think about the last time you voiced your opinion on something - whether it was in a meeting or while complaining about a service you received. Frustration levels rise and satisfaction levels dip if the response you receive is generic. So use your listening skills to show people your business cares.

4. Use technology 

Shyness doesn’t always stop at in-person social engagements. If you’re more reserved, you might not care too much about social media either. Only in 2024, it can be tricky to avoid social media. Customers use it and the various platforms can help get your product and message to existing and potential customers. 

Thankfully, technology has evolved making the management of social media posts even easier. Now, you have far greater control. You can set the time a post goes live - meaning you can write it when you’re in the mood to do so and publish it when it’s likely to have the greatest impact. 

This can be extended to a more targeted approach too. If you use customer relationship management (CRM) systems, these can be set to go to specific audiences at specific times. And while you can also use AI tools to help generate content and messages, it’s advisable to go over any AI output and add that personal, human touch too.

Use the technology to fill in the gaps you’re less comfortable with, without missing out on the huge potential and value social media can add to your business.

5. Create your perfect environment 

When you run a business there are some things that you can’t control. But one thing you can always control is the environment of your business as a workplace. The culture you want to nurture and see thrive. And the point remains even if you don’t have any employees. 

Think about environmental factors that help you work more productively. Perhaps it’s having a structured and organised set up to foster concentration. Or maybe you’re the opposite and prefer things to be a bit more loose, fuelling creativity. Whatever it is, take advantage of the fact it’s entirely in your control. 

Create a working environment that works for you, your business and your employees. That way you can boost productivity and creativity in a way that suits your personality. 

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About Kyle Eaton

Kyle is a finance editor specialising in all things related to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). He has over ten years' experience working in financial services and as a writer.

View Kyle Eaton's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.