Confidence is essential to your success in business.
I’d also argue that it’s essential to success in life.
Confidence doesn’t compensate for a lack of skill or hard work, but it helps amplify those qualities to take you further than you’d get without it.
The numbers don’t lie.
Confident employees have an average of 22% more sales than their less-confident peers.
And confident people are 24% more likely to overcome challenges at work.
But how can you be more confident?
That’s like telling a zebra to “be purple,” right?
It turns out you can train yourself to be more confident.
I used to be quite shy. It wasn’t until I worked as a vacuum cleaner salesman that I learned to put myself out there.
For the record, I sold one vacuum in my entire career.
I didn’t become confident in my marketing abilities until I had to do a speech in one of my college classes. I was enrolled in college while also still attending high school.
I chose to talk about how search engines worked.
That one speech led to me making over $20,000 per month at just 16 years of age. It landed me my first client, who also referred me to others.
Not too shabby!
None of that would have happened if I wasn’t confident in my abilities.
Read on to discover 8 simple exercises you can do to become more confident.
1. Fake it until you make it
I wouldn’t recommend faking confidence for the long term. It doesn’t work.
But sometimes, when you just need some extra pep in your step, pretending you’re more confident than you are can help you slip into that role.
It could be as simple as wearing your favorite shirt.
Anything that puts you in a more positive mood — even if it’s temporary.
It can really pay off.
A study by the University of Sussex found that we’re biologically wired to respect the opinions of confident people more than insecure people.
Confidence is more important than talent when it comes to having a successful career.
I once spent over $160,000 on clothes for an experiment.
I’ll spare you the details again, but that $160,000 investment ended up making me over $692,000!
The image I gave off was that I was successful and confident. That gravitated people toward me who may not otherwise have come up to me.
Those people ended up becoming clients, and I made a killer return on investment on my clothes.
I’m not saying you have to spend that kind of money, or any money at all, to be confident.
I don’t normally spend that much on clothing because I don’t like to be flashy, but I wanted to see if the old saying — “The clothes make the man” — was true or not.
Turns out, it is.
But only if you have the inner confidence to back up your look.
An easy and free way to improve your confidence is to use eye contact when you’re speaking to others.
Averting your gaze entirely sends a very different message.
It can mean that you’re lying, or even that you think you’re better than the person you’re talking to.
Initiating and keeping eye contact is a quick way to instantly boost how confident you appear to others.
2. Be positive
Being positive is essential to having confidence.
I mean, how can you believe in yourself if you’re too busy moping around being negative?
You might think it’s easy to be positive when you’re successful.
You might think, “Sure, Neil, easy for you to say.”
But I’ve struggled before, too.
I lost $1 million dollars before I even turned 21. I have been extremely fortunate to have the investors I did in my companies and the ability to turn that debt around.
But I wouldn’t have been able to bounce back at all without maintaining a positive mindset.
How do you become more positive, especially if you have a long history of negative thinking?
It can be done, though it’s not easy.
If you’re already a generally happy person, it may be as simple as repeating some positive statements.
These are typically called affirmations and they could be something like, “I am worthy of my success and am an expert in my field.”
Affirmations don’t work for everyone.
A study by the University of Waterloo found that, while positive statements can help people who are already confident, they actually cause insecure people to feel worse.
If you find yourself defaulting to negative thoughts when you say something positive, affirmations likely won’t do much for you.
So how do you be more positive when you struggle with insecurity and a lack of confidence?
When I was younger, it helped me a lot to distance myself from a big problem or source of worry.
When you can remove yourself from the issue, you can think about it objectively.
I don’t mean that you should run away from your problem forever.
Just take a few steps back and think about it like it was something that didn’t affect you personally. How would a stranger handle this problem?
Is there a logical solution you may have missed?
For me, this was helpful when my business partner and I first tried to sell Crazy Egg.
We thought we could easily raise $10 million dollars for the company.
That didn’t end up being the case at all.
We received no offers even close to that. We were forced to realize that we had a lot more work and time ahead of us before we would be able to raise that kind of money.
When we weren’t getting offers, my co-founder Hiten and I took a look at the market.
We realized that a high-risk tech investment like that wasn’t popular at the moment and that it takes a few years of proven work to raise money from investors.
Creating a bit of distance between ourselves and our product allowed us to see this.
It made the path forward a lot clearer, and we were able to take action on the things we knew would make us a valuable investment in the future.
Another way to stay positive is to take a few minutes each day to reflect on what you’re grateful for.
Being grateful can reduce stress hormones in your body by 23%!
Gratitude helps your body and mind.
When you’re thankful for what you already have, you appreciate new accomplishments even more.
3. Challenge your inner critic
Often, the biggest hurdle to increasing our confidence is that little nagging voice in the back of our heads.
You know, like when you’re about to make a big presentation in front of a client and your brain tells you, “You’re going to fail this. The client won’t like your ideas and will choose someone else.”
Or the more damaging, “You always fail at presentations. This one won’t be any different.”
If this happens to you a lot, think of all the times your inner mean voice was wrong.
Like that time a client loved your presentation and gave you more business as a result.
When your brain starts to tell you, “You always…” stop right there.
Don’t blow things out of proportion!
Is it possible you’ll fail at this presentation? Yes, absolutely.
Is it also possible you’ll do great and the client will love your work? This is more likely if you’ve done your homework!
Silencing your inner critic takes a lot of practice.
You need to recognize when you’re being too hard on yourself and make an effort to correct that voice by saying, “No, I can do this.”
Did you know that 85% of the things we worry about actually end up being okay?
Next time you find one of your 40,000 thoughts turning negative or blowing something out of proportion, stop and reframe it into something more useful.
4. Find self-care that helps you relax
When you’re stressed out, you’re not going to feel confident.
Stressful days happen, especially as an entrepreneur, but you need to make relaxing a priority, too.
Maybe you like dining out at a nice, quiet restaurant once a week.
Or you might prefer going to see a movie with a friend or your partner.
Whatever you love to do, make time for it even when your work schedule is packed.
When I was in college, I worked 70-80 hour weeks on my courses and building my multiple companies.
I didn’t have a lot of downtime, but I’ve always known that I need a lot of sleep to function at my best.
I typically get over 9 hours of sleep each night and I always have, even during 80 hour work weeks. For me, it’s simply non-negotiable.
I know that I feel and work better when I’m well rested.
Did you know most people work more than they sleep?
I work more than I sleep, too, but I’ve found a balance that works for me.
If you’re constantly stressed out, you’re not alone.
47% of people are stressed out every single day!
As an entrepreneur, you often can’t take time off to be sick. If you’re running a startup, it becomes your whole life.
Make sure you’re carving out some time each day to unwind and do something you enjoy.
5. Create and maintain personal boundaries
This is a tough one for most entrepreneurs — myself included.
Creating distance between your work and personal lives seems impossible when you’re spending almost all your waking hours running your startup.
That’s how it might be in the beginning, but you need to learn healthy work-life boundaries at some point or you’ll go nuts.
The hours were grueling when my brother-in-law Hiten Shah and I started Crazy Egg.
It was easier for me because I’m single with no kids, so I can pretty much do whatever I want.
Hiten is married and now has a family. He still works many more hours than typical fathers with 9-5 jobs, but he makes every second at home count.
The boundary he set was to be at home on Fridays. That was his family time when absolutely no work crisis could pull him away.
Setting and enforcing boundaries can be difficult, but they’re necessary to maintaining your self-confidence in all areas of your life.
A study by TEKsystems of IT professionals revealed that 47% of employees felt it was impossible to completely disconnect from work.
And 37% reported that their work led to conflicts with family or friends.
Your career may be your passion, but you’ll burn out if you treat it like the only thing in your life.
Work hard to maintain your important friendships and family ties, too, in addition to your career or business.
6. Be true to yourself
Going along with what everyone else is doing won’t do anything for your confidence.
It makes you feel like a phony.
You need to be yourself to feel truly confident.
That doesn’t mean that you need to start yelling your opinions all over town, but you should be prepared to speak your mind and stand up for your beliefs.
The trick is to be yourself without being arrogant.
Sure, you’re pretty great, but the world doesn’t revolve around you and never will.
Admit when you’re wrong, be genuinely interested in people you talk to, and be passionate about what you do.
It’s pretty simple.
If something feels wrong to you, don’t do it.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t listen to other people.
It means that you can listen to others without following in their footsteps. Make up your own mind on issues that are important to you.
Create your own set of values.
Think of yourself as a brand.
What do you believe in? How do you look at the world?
What do you want people to think about you, or feel when they see you?
Regardless of how you answer those questions, make sure your actions align with them.
Being true to yourself shouldn’t be difficult. You already know how to do it.
A big part of being able to speak your mind is letting go of the fear of judgment.
Many people stay silent because they’re afraid of what other people will think.
Don’t give up years of your life living in fear!
Knowing your values and being able to speak them out loud shows high levels of self-awareness.
As a key part of emotional intelligence, self-awareness is defined as “an awareness of one’s own personality or individuality.”
One of the most important parts of being self-aware is recognizing your weaknesses.
Everyone has weaknesses.
If you can recognize yours, accept them, and study them objectively, you can improve your skills and experience a lot of personal growth.
For example, let’s say that you’re bad at public speaking.
You can learn to be better at that over time.
But it takes a lot of guts and self-awareness to admit that you need help in that area. It takes even more perseverance to put in the time to better yourself.
7. Don’t wait for external validation
This one is really important, especially for entrepreneurs.
Repeat after me: You are your own support system.
Some people have endless amounts of support around them. They might have a team of colleagues or a family who understands their entrepreneurial drive.
I was very lucky that my parents understood my motivation to work so hard at building my companies when I was younger.
They didn’t say, “Hey, Neil, go play outside!”
They encouraged me to continue working on my dreams, even after my first few businesses failed.
Having a support system is helpful, but you still need to be your own cheerleader, especially when you don’t have any support.
Venturing into entrepreneurship or pursuing your dream career may appear too risky to your friends and family members who are not brave enough to attempt it themselves.
It’s hard to motivate yourself when you’re surrounded by negativity.
Motivation is more than just starting something or finishing your work. It’s also about the effort you put in.
The negative people around you probably think they’re being helpful by warning you about the dangers ahead.
Don’t listen to them.
Don’t let them tear down your confidence in your ability to reach your goal.
Believing them will only cause you to put in a low-quality effort, which will erode your confidence.
Stay focused on your goals.
Stay positive even when you don’t feel like it.
In the tough times, picture how you’ll tell the people who didn’t believe in you that you’ve achieved your goal.
That’s good for a hefty confidence boost any day!
8. Pay attention to your body language
Your body language gives away a lot about your true level of confidence.
If you’re trying to impress someone, like in an interview, how you carry yourself has a lot to do with their opinion of you.
Body language is up to 13 times more influential than spoken words!
You’ve likely heard the obvious things like, “Don’t slouch!” or, “Stand up straight!”
But science has discovered that there are several postures that can actually boost your confidence. These are called “power poses.”
Holding one of these poses for 2-3 minutes every day increases testosterone levels by up to 20%.
Increased testosterone creates a temporary feeling of greater self-confidence.
Even though the effects of a power pose don’t last long, a boost can go a long way.
If you’re heading into a client pitch meeting, strike one of these poses in the elevator before you go in.
“The Performer,” which is illustrated above, is a good one to try. Expand your arms outward and take up more space than you normally would.
Just don’t expand your arms too far out and accidentally punch someone in the face.
Another pose from the list above, and my personal favorite is “The Superman.”
This one doesn’t feel as silly as extending your arms all the way out if you’re in public!
Put your hands on your hips, have your feet hip width apart, and keep your shoulders back.
Here’s a picture of me power-posing in my pajamas.
Besides the pajamas, I would fit in in any conference room in this pose.
When you need a quick boost, try out these poses. You might find you have a favorite one that works best for you.
True confidence comes from inside, but it doesn’t hurt to display a little outside confidence from time to time.
Anyone can learn to be more confident.
Practice daily until you start to feel your mindset gradually shift toward being more confident without having to try.
Believing in yourself is required if you want to achieve great things, like becoming a successful entrepreneur or mastering a new skill.
At times, it’s hard to stay confident.
You will fail at some point.
You’ll hit a low point, and it’s natural to beat yourself up during this time and think, “I’m not good enough. I screwed up. I can’t do this.”
I’ve had these thoughts before.
Every successful entrepreneur has failed and lost confidence at some point. It’s part of the struggle.
But you can’t give in to negativity.
Every failure is a lesson to learn and just a stepping stone to something better.
Tell yourself positive affirmations daily until you believe them. Say to yourself, “I didn’t fail at life. I only failed at this one thing, and that’s okay because, from this experience, I learned _______.”
Learn from your failure and move on. Be thankful that it happened and allowed you to grow.
If you don’t believe in yourself through the hard times, you won’t reach that next stepping stone toward eventual success.
How have you become more confident?