It’s well known that lack of self-confidence and self-belief is one of the biggest barriers to success. A few years ago, I remember one trainer saying to me at a workshop that he was worried big corporates wouldn’t pay for his services and he felt as though he couldn’t justify his fees. These worries were holding him back.

I reminded him that if you are a person who has 25 years of experience in training in a corporate environment, someone who has built up a huge amount of knowledge in a specific industry and a unique set of skills (which he was), you do not stop being that person just because you wake up the next morning as a freelance trainer.

Do you ever have the same fear?

If so, remember that people were prepared to pay you a good salary when you were in your corporate job and the same should and will apply when you are independent. Buyers of training will want to buy you and your unique skills – if they had what you are offering, they would do it themselves.

So be confident about what you have to offer. Believe in yourself and the value you give your clients.

After all, if you’re not confident about what you’re providing, how can you expect other people to be?

Try these five tips to boost your self-confidence

If you are struggling with your self-confidence at the moment (and lots of people are, thanks to the last couple of challenging years), here are a few tips for you to try:

1. Remember that confidence is a frame of mind

People might seem confident but are they? Inside, they might be feeling just as vulnerable as you. It’s a reminder that we don’t always know how someone else is truly feeling. The same goes for you too. People may not know you’re doubting yourself. Sometimes, you do have to fake confidence until it becomes real. Often, it’s only by doing something that you learn to feel confident about it.

2. Identify the triggers that knock your self-confidence

Are there certain types of people or situations that send you into a spiral of self-doubt? Can you see some common triggers? If you’re prepared for things that challenge your confidence, you can start to change how you think about them.

3. Prepare as much as possible

Knowing that you’re prepared for a situation is a great confidence booster. In particular, a lot of freelance trainers worry about talking about money or naming their prices. My advice is to spend some time getting to grips with your numbers. Work out what plan to charge and why. Next, practice saying your rates in front of the mirror or to someone you trust. Rehearsing this conversation can help you feel more confident when the time comes to talk money with a client.

4. Work towards clearly defined goals

Sometimes, the reason we lack confidence is that we feel like we’re not 100% sure what we should be doing. Setting well-defined goals with measurable outcomes is the antidote to this. You can pinpoint exactly what you want to achieve and track the outcomes. This will help you see yourself as a person who gets things done.

5. Break things into small steps

When you’re experiencing a dip in self-confidence, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. This can become something of a vicious cycle, shifting your focus from what you can do to what you can’t. If you’re struggling with this at the moment, try breaking things down into smaller, easily achievable steps. Celebrate each win, no matter how small. Again, this will help you to shift your mindset towards greater self-confidence.

Talk to other trainers

When you become a freelance trainer, it’s easy to worry that you no longer have the reputation of a larger business backing you. Will people take you seriously as an independent? Also, you might feel like you’re missing having a team to talk things through with. Sometimes a bit of validation from colleagues is all it takes to remind us that our instincts are great and we know our stuff.

Yes, self-confidence has to come from within. There’s only so much other people can do to help you. But, in the words of the old BT ad (does anyone else remember it?), it’s good to talk.

If you feel like you’d love to talk to other freelance trainers, we’d love to see you in the Trainer Talk community.

Note: This blog was originally written in January 2010 and updated in December 2021.

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