This next post was supposed to be part of my series detailing the steps needed to start your own non-profit – particularly looking at the strategic planning side of things. (I’ll be back to that in my next post). But recently, I’ve been caught up in something many entrepreneurs experience, especially women – impostor syndrome.

This “syndrome” has been making news lately, so it’s likely you’ve heard the term before, but for anyone who has not come across the term yet, basically it applies to anyone who experiences fear of being found out as a “fraud.” Usually these folks are high-achieving, have experience in their field, and are generally known to be intelligent. And yet, something makes them feel “phony” or out of place when being turned to as an “expert” or at least as someone who can offer pretty darn good advice.

I’ve definitely had a bad case of impostor syndrome when it comes to writing this blog and generally launching my business. My main thoughts have been that many other folks have far more experience than I do, who would possibly listen to someone in their 20s about starting a non-profit and what the heck do I know about websites? I shared these thoughts with a trusted friend who said this to me:

What you’ve done with SHE and the SHE website is amazing, and you may not be the top expert in the field- but hardly anyone is, and your experience is still valuable for anyone who hasn’t done it

And then she offered this advice:

The biggest thing I’ve found that is helpful, is your experience is your own and special and insights on what you’ve done and your process will be valuable to anyone wanting to learn

And along side that is also if you talk/act like you know what you’re talking about, people will believe you

And eventually you will, too, because deep down you know that you know what you’re doing

Sometimes you just need a friend to tell you that you’re doing an awesome job. But more than that, I love that she pointed out the fact that I do know I know what I’m doing. At some point, we all feel like we have no idea what we’re doing. When I started my new job in February, I felt like I knew NOTHING! And now, my boss jokingly points out that I could probably run the place on my own. After we do something for a while, we just do it without even thinking, and then we don’t even give ourselves credit for the amazing job we’re doing. I suppose in a way, that’s the final frontier in overcoming impostor syndrome – be so darn good, there’s no reason to question yourself!

This past week I read an article called “The Creative World’s Bullshit Industrial Complex,” which touches on a variety of things in the creative industry that I’ve also found to be an issue. Things like passing off someone else’s content as first-hand wisdom. However, when I read their description of the top group in this complex, I understood that I’m not bullshitting anyone. Here’s the description:

People actually shipping ideas, launching businesses, doing creative work, taking risks and sharing first-hand learnings.

Heck, yeah, I’m doing this! Launch a business? Check! Doing creative work? Check! Taking risks and sharing first-hand learnings? Check and check!

I’m reflecting on how I write this blog. As part of my impostor syndrome, I think I was writing this blog as more of a prescription in orderly steps for people to start their own non-profit. No non-profit is built in a day, no non-profit is built in the exact steps, in the exact way I’m laying it out. I want folks to have the information and knowledge on the “ideal” way of doing things, but I want to sprinkle in more details about where I stumbled along the way, how we did things differently than the so-called best practices, and how we still managed to start Super Heroines, Etc. in our own awesomely special way.

I can’t wait for the next blog post – it’s going to be great!

Author: Carolyn

Carolyn Noe is the owner of Noe Ideas as well as the Founder & Executive Director of Super Heroines, Etc. It is her personal mission to help dreamers and do-gooders turn their fantastic ideas into implementable, goal-oriented non-profits and businesses.