Confidence Is Money

There is no greater asset for a entrepreneur than an absolute conviction that you know what you’re doing. If you don’t feel sure of yourself, why should anyone else trust you?

This is obvious. But for most of us, confidence is something that comes and goes. What’s more, it often vanishes unexpectedly, just when you need it most. When I feel confident, everything seems to work better. When I feel insecure, nothing goes right. I become self-conscious. I begin to doubt my own abilities, and mistrust other people as well.

While confidence is useful for everyone, it is particularly vital when you are in business for yourself. When you work for a company, your very position gives you a sense of legitimacy. Entrepreneurs stand on our own, and we mustn’t be seen to be quivering in our high heels or wing tips. We demand to be taken seriously. Everything about us should inspire trust.

In his influential book Learned Optimism, psychologist Martin Seligman cites scientific data showing that pessimistic people have a firmer grasp on reality than people with a sunnier outlook. The optimists, however, are likely to be happier, healthier, and more successful. Seligman argues that, for most people, it’s worth learning to be optimistic. It’s good for you.

Obviously, you can’t stay in business if you don’t have a grasp on reality, and especially on how things are changing. Yet, it is the nature of the entrepreneur not to accept reality without a bit of a fight. We are, after all, in business to change the world, not simply to accept things as they are. Our success depends on a good helping of presumptuousness. We are remaking the world to our liking. But we will never succeed unless we are convinced―and unless we appear convinced―that what we are doing will succeed.

Everyone has moments of insecurity. Indeed, many of the stories in this book relate the impact of self-doubt on the lives of independent business people. Confidence is a quality that comes and goes, but, as several of the stories that follow suggest, it is also a discipline that can be learned. And if you can succeed in learning confidence, you will not simply be happier and healthier, but wealthier besides.


James Chan, Ph.D., is president of Asia Marketing and Management (AMM), a Philadelphia-based consultancy specialized in advising U.S. firms on exporting American-made products and services to China and forging business relationships there. Since he founded his practice in 1983, James Chan has advised more than 100 U.S. companies in expanding their businesses in Asia. To view his background online, go to

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