How to Not Let Imposter Syndrome Scupper Your Franchising Prospects

Did you know that 70% of people experience ‘imposter syndrome’ at some point in their career? Even if you’re not familiar with this term, it could well be a mental state that you have encountered, if you are a high achiever but frequently believe that the success you have had in life has been down to sheer luck. If you have experienced imposter syndrome, you will have probably also felt that you are somehow a fraud, who will be found out at some time in the future.

imposter syndrome

At Aspray Franchise, we wanted to know whether imposter syndrome could possibly influence those who we would regard as potentially fabulous Aspray franchisees. Could it possibly deter those who we would view as ideal candidates? Then, if a sufferer overcame the first hurdle of the lack of self-confidence that accompanies imposter syndrome, could other facets of the syndrome prevent them from achieving their full potential? Above all, what could we do to help prevent these issues affecting someone’s ability to build a successful franchise business?

Expert, Valerie Young, has identified five different types of imposter syndrome sufferer – The Perfectionist, The Superman/Superwoman; The Natural Genius, the Rugged Individualist and The Expert. We put each of these under the spotlight, to analyse them in the context of franchising.

The Perfectionist is someone who sets excessively high goals and then, if they fail to achieve them, beats themselves up and experiences major self-doubt. They are compelled to micro-manage tasks, hate delegating and, if they do not come ‘top of the class’, believe they ‘cannot do’ whatever it is they were tested in and so avoid doing it.

When considering this behaviour, we realised that franchise recruitment methodologies could create scenarios that lead to a candidate believing they could not succeed in the role of franchisee. Here, for instance, our bar is set high when it comes to franchisee recruitment and we rigorously test, research and challenge would-be franchisees. However, we do not expect a franchisee to score the magic 10 out of 10 across all of the criteria we feel suitable for this role. Only the applicant suffering from imposter syndrome would feel let down if one or two areas were not exactly spot-on, but that feeling could see them dropping out of the process and missing out on what has the potential to be a hugely successful opportunity.

We feel the answer lies in encouraging applicants who are ‘perfectionists’ to lower their own expectations of their performance, recognise that it is normal to not be perfect in every aspect of a role and learn to take mistakes and less-than-perfect results in their stride. If they don’t, they may never gain any satisfaction from success achieved in any field.

Moving on to the Superman or Superwoman, this is a workaholic, who has let their interests and hobbies fall by the wayside, because they obsess over working as hard as possible, to get over the feeling that they haven’t deserved the success they have had. It’s almost as if they need to repay the fates in some way. Ironically, this work ethic is precisely what can drive a franchise business forward and potentially generate quick growth, but this type of imposter syndrome sufferer often needs an employer or boss to continually impress and so ignores self-employment as a career path. Stuck in this never-ending circle of work and external validation, some prime franchisee candidates might never consider the opportunity to channel their efforts into building their own franchise business.

Our advice here is for anyone experiencing these feelings to recognise that only you can make yourself feel worthy. However, if you do need external validation, a franchise business is a great option for you, as a franchisor will be there to give you the feedback you relish and will recognise your hard work. That does not happen in a typical start-up business, so franchising could be the best way for you to benefit from all the hard work that you feel you need to do, to feel worthy.

When it comes to The Natural Genius, they want to do things that come easy to them, believing that, if too much effort is required for a task, they cannot possibly be good at it. Once again, this type of imposter syndrome sufferer sets the bar impossibly high. They are also a loner, wanting to handle things by themselves, without any mentoring or advice, as a natural genius should need no assistance, in their view. As they secretly like to be regarded as an expert, they shy away from new things, as not being good at them would make them feel ashamed.

Here, Aspray’s franchise team would advise this type of person to recognise that you cannot be a natural genius at everything and this is not a weakness. Everyone should be a work in progress. This is why Aspray delivers accredited franchisee training, on an ongoing basis, as we recognise that all franchisees, no matter how qualified, can still grow through learning, particularly in areas outside their comfort zone.

It’s fun to develop new talents and not all that satisfying to confine yourself to what you believe you are naturally good at. We believe that all of our franchisees would say that learning, whilst running their own property claims management businesses, has been a major plus of the journey they are enjoying.

Next, we come to The Rugged Individualist, who believes that accepting help somehow exposes them as the fraud they believe themselves to be, due to their imposter syndrome symptoms. This type of person can be challenging, particularly when they become franchisees. At Aspray, for instance, if they are resistant to the help from head office that our proven franchise business model requires, they will not achieve their full potential. Our advice to Rugged Individualists who become franchisees would be “don’t be the lone ranger”. Working in harmony with your franchisor, and listening to advice, will build your business in a far more healthy and sustainable way than will occur if you go it alone.

That leaves us with The Expert, who feels they tricked their employer into giving them a job. This belief creates a continual fear that they will be exposed and seen as being far-removed from the ‘expert’ they have set themselves up to be.

As this type of imposter syndrome sufferer typically avoids applying for jobs, unless they tick every single box of the job description, this holds them back. Rather than explore opportunities like that of building a successful franchise business, they spend their time constantly taking training courses, whether they need the skills enhanced by these or not.

What we would say to Experts is that they could find fulfilment through franchising with Aspray, if they accept that they do have fabulous skills and use these to potentially help deliver life-changing outcomes for themselves and their families. Project management is a classic example of a skill that works well within our model. Additionally, they could ease some of their worries and stop questioning their own expertise, if they channelled it into mentoring others and sharing knowledge with their franchisee peers – something Aspray encourages. That can be highly rewarding.

Summing up, it is clear that, as imposter syndrome is so widespread amongst high achievers, it does prevent some great candidates becoming franchisees, with all the lifestyle and earning benefits that this could potentially bring. Aspray’s final advice, for anyone believing that luck has given them the success they have enjoyed thus far, is for these individuals to take up a new challenge, such as setting up a franchise business, and endeavour to test their skills and knowledge in this new context. We suspect that they will quickly discover that it is their work ethic, talent and approach to tasks in hand that see them triumph, not that elusive notion of serendipity.