How Shonda Rhimes Got Me to Let Go of My Imposter Syndrome

And also, balance my business books

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Shonda Rhimes on stage

As APW’s newest hire, I joined the team earlier this year fresh off a grueling corporate year. The corporate world was my personal Hell; I was watching the clock until it was time to go home and generally going crazy. And because I needed to have something I cared about outside of my nine to five (for my own sanity), I started my own business, Dirty Hands Floral. Which means that outside of APW, I create arrangements and bouquets and anything you can make with lush greenery and flowers. While floral design is a true passion of mine, I’m constantly struggling with where to start in terms of running a business. In fact, I feel like I’ve “started” so many times, that the issue for me is how to keep that momentum going.

I mean, full stop. I’m terrible at the business aspect of my business. I just want to create (everything else comes second to that for me). It’s not that I don’t know how to do things; it’s just that I always feel like I’m pretending to know what I’m doing (imposter syndrome? More on this later). So when APW was invited to attend the QuickBooks Connect event at the San Jose Convention Center (with Tyra Banks, Nate Berkus, and Shonda Rhimes on the speaking roster, OMG), I was excited to get to represent the team. Even if that meant I had to deal with numbers. I know Meg uses QuickBooks to balance APW’s budget, and I have been looking for ways to improve my own business acumen. But what I didn’t know was that QuickBooks has a new product just for self-employed people, that helps you with all the un-fun parts of running a business, like keeping your finances organized by capturing receipts, automatically tracking mileage, categorizing your business expenses, and helping you find tax deductions. So since numbers and I don’t naturally click, I welcome anything and everything that will ease my relationship and anxiety toward that. Because at the end of the day, numbers equal money, in or out of my pocket. And I want to get a better grasp on that.

iphone docked at the apple store

QuickBooks has always intimidated me, because numbers plus accounting really does not bring my blood pressure down. But when I got to the event, I met people just like me—people with the goal to make their small businesses thrive. Going to this event made me realize that if I take a second to do the research instead of putting off dealing with numbers, I would find out that there are tools to make handling my budget a lot easier. And once I deal with my budget, I will have more time to create the things I love.

All I had on my mind before attending this event was that the whole conference would only be about QuickBooks. I guess I imagined that we’d all sit down and do accounting together, or something equally fascinating and terrifying. What I wasn’t expecting was how inspired I’d be by the event itself. Although, being inspired isn’t too hard when you get to see Tyra, Shonda, and Nate Berkus speak.

Tyra banks on stage in a suit

I used to think of Imposter Syndrome as faking it until you make it. I used that phrase all the time before attending this event. So, what made me look at things differently? SHONDA FREAKING RHIMES. In my own mind, I always thought it was luck or fate that led me to where I am instead of me acknowledging the hard work and effort I put in to get me there. But Shonda reminded me and the rest of that audience that if you’re in the room, you’re there to do the work that everyone else in the room is there to do.

As women, it’s easy to feel like we aren’t capable of running a business as well as a man… because, well, our whole culture is set up to tell us just that. Not only do men tend to be the recipients of business training and encouragement (and funding), they’re also told to walk into every situation with confidence and ask whatever questions they might have. Far from having imposter syndrome, they have whatever the opposite of that is… “I naturally own the world” syndrome?

But at QuickBooks Connect, I realized that Shonda was right. I didn’t end up in that room by dumb luck. I worked damn hard to build my skills and my resume. I fought hard for my position at APW (how many follow up emails over several months is too many, would you say?). And I stepped up (and into dawn rush hour traffic), when the opportunity to go see Shonda, Tyra, and Nate presented itself. And all that means it’s time to stop second-guessing myself and the work I put out into the world. I’m where I am right now because I’m supposed to be here. And I will no longer use the phrase “imposter syndrome,” because I believe I’m meant to be here.

convention center hallway

But back to those numbers. I also realized that they need to stop scaring me and that tools like QuickBooks are here to help me build my business, not give me a panic attack. And if I have the talent and hustle to do all the other things it takes to run my business, I can for sure count the money going out… and better yet, the money coming in.

Have you ever gotten in your own way in your career? What are your tips for running a small business without running yourself into the ground?

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This post was sponsored by QuickBooks and QuickBooks Connect, a transformational event that inspires and educates small businesses owners and self-employed folks alike to fuel their own business success. And now with QuickBooks self-employed, managing your own business is easier than ever. QuickBooks self-employed has powerful tools that make it easy for you to separate your business expenses from your personal expenses, automate your mileage tracking, send invoices, and maximize your tax deductions. It’s basically like having a small business assistant in your pocket (for as low as $5 a month). Click here to sign up for a free 30-day trial with QuickBooks.

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