Tips on Building the Confidence to Grow Your Business

By Phil Buckley

My first experience with small business owners was in the late 80s. I was an operations manager for Zack’ Famous Frozen Yogurt, a franchise chain experiencing massive growth. My role was to set up new stores and help franchisees manage them successfully.

I was inspired by each owner’s courage, determination and passion to win. They tackled challenges head-on and typically took a glass half-full approach to managing problems.

However, when presented with opportunities to change or expand their businesses, I noticed that many owners lacked the confidence to get to the next level. They were comfortable with what they knew, and uncomfortable with what they didn’t know. Often, they’d forgo opportunities without fully exploring the benefits because their personal uncertainty was stronger than their desire for greater success.

As my career progressed into business training and then change management, I observed that most leaders struggled with change. Their confidence was tested most when their operational experience didn’t help them assess and pursue new opportunities or manage challenges. In those circumstances, what had made them successful had little impact on their ability to manage well.

Over time, it became apparent to me that the key to managing change (offering new products, entering new markets, opening a new location, etc.) is confidence.

Here are three ways that small business owners (and any business leader for that matter) can build their confidence when they uncover big opportunities to grow their businesses:

Make a list of the skills you used when making past successful changes

Small business owners will benefit from taking stock of past accomplishments and the skills they used to achieve them. Listing them in writing will help you build a playbook on how to manage new opportunities – steps to take, advice to get, behaviors to demonstrate, etc. Studying your past successes will help you create a path towards your goal and identify the capabilities you need to get there.

Identify who you can call upon for help

Peer support is a key enabler of evolving a business. Wise small business leaders ask for help, especially when opportunities require a departure from their current business model. Learning about how similar situations were managed, both successfully and unsuccessfully, will provide practical guidance on what you need to do, what to watch out for and how to act.

Write a solid plan

Business plans help small business owners stay focused and manage time and resources productively. They provide a means against which to track progress and a working tool to adjust as new information becomes available. A wise person once said, “Create the plan, work the plan, change the plan.” A growth opportunity business plan provides a map to confidently navigate.

It can be difficult to manage and grow a small business. With the right skills, knowledge, advice and plan, the small business owner can take the next step on their businesses journey and reach the next level of personal success. Have confidence!

Author’s Bio: Phil Buckley is a senior change management professional with nearly twenty-five years of experience helping individuals, teams and organizations deliver change in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Phil writes about managing change at He is also author of Change with Confidence: Answers to the 50 Biggest Questions that keep Change Leaders Up at Night (Jossey-Bass), where he provides complete, actionable answers to the fifty burning questions that leaders routinely ask about how to manage change successfully. Follow him on Twitter @philbuckley01.


  1. says

    Very nice article, Rosemary.

    The tips are spot on especially the one where you need to ask for help. Aside from confidence, I also think they need to cultivate humility.

    The feeling of failing after a string of success is really hard to swallow so a lot of business owners would forgo change for their pride. So they end up being stuck.

    Nothing wrong with that really if they’re honestly content with what they have. But as you’ve said, if they want to push it a little more, they can apply these tips you gave. :)

  2. says

    You cannot really blame business owners that are skeptical of moving to the next levels. However, many that see opportunity stronger than their present convictions readily would make the most of any little hint on moving forward.

    Well, this post is a confidence builder and I am sure many business owners would readily make the most of the ideas discussed therein.

    This piece and comment was shared in the IM social site – where this post was kingged.

    Sunday – contributor

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