I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. During summer break I would regularly look for work, volunteer or test out ideas that could make me money. During my freshman year of college, I started my first blog. Dedicated to fashion, politics and culture, Political Style quickly grew in size and was even featured on The Huffington Post, Politico and The Daily Beast. I found myself working with brands and PR companies, and had to quickly learn the ropes of marketing, design and advertising.
Last year I took the biggest step and set up my first business. Specializing in content creation, social media and bespoke public relations, I work with clients in both the US and the UK. I’ve just passed my one-year anniversary, and the move has transformed the way I approach new challenges – both professionally and personally. Launching a business at any age takes guts, and the challenge of starting mine at 25 has defined my inner value. Here’s how.
Growing your self-confidence:
Without this you won’t be going anywhere. Writing a pitch, delivering a presentation or providing a client with reasoning behind a decision takes a ton of self-confidence. Belief in my ability and my experience drives my business forward, and continues to positively impact the way I work. Overcoming my lack of self-confidence has been a long and sustained journey, and it continues to be one that I conquer every day.
Facing imposter syndrome:
There’s no shame in saying you suffer from imposter syndrome – or the inability to internalize and own your success. In her commencement address to Harvard graduates, Natalie Portman confessed that she suffered from this common problem, and at times, thought she wasn’t smart enough to be doing anything outside acting. There are times when I feel like a complete fraud, question every decision and panic. If you can recognize the signs, you can also recognize how to beat it. Stop, breathe and visualize your achievements. You are strong, successful and worthy.
Using the power of networking:
Networking is vital to my business, and secretly, I’ve come to enjoy it. Meeting new people lets me perfect my ‘elevator pitch,’ boosts my self-confidence and allows me explain the value I bring to clients. Networking is a great way to connect with others and find out what defines their inner and professional value. I go to events with three goals that I want to achieve. It could be having two meaningful discussions, handing out business cards or learning something new. Whatever it is, I make sure that I come away having achieved something.
Asking the tough questions:
Before becoming a business owner, I rarely asked the hard questions. Now, I embrace them. Whether it’s asking for a raise, finding out why action is delayed or calling out poor service, tough questions are something that you can’t avoid. Owning a business has opened my eyes to what I’m worth. My experience, expertise and ideas speak for something.
Defining professional value:
As I develop my expertise, work with clients and try new things, my appreciation and understanding of my professional value continues to evolve. No longer do I think “I can’t do this’ or ‘Why should I even try?’ Instead, I feel empowered to say yes to new opportunities and work with individuals who understand and accept my professional value. This will always be a work in progress, and as my experience grows, my confidence will increase with it. My message to you? Be patient, say yes to new challenges and believe that you can do it.
Laura Dunn specializes in content creation, social media and bespoke PR, and works with brands, organizations and individuals in both the USA and the UK. Laura started blogging in 2008, creating her blog Political Style. Laura writes for The Huffington Post, Fortune and many other publications. You can follow Laura on Twitter here: @lauraemilyd.