The biggest mistake female entrepreneurs make

Coaching female filmmakers and entrepreneurs is the mainstay of my business, and since finding my dream clients I have noticed a big difference between them and some of the other clients I coached when I was starting out.

The biggest mistake I’ve seen female entrepreneurs and filmmakers make since starting my career is that they don’t go for it.

They plan it right down to the last detail (I’m so with you on that) but they’re always cautious.

I see it all the time in my clients, and until I dug deep and made a change in my thinking, I had the same problem.

But I have to tell you, the world is searching for your content. Can you afford to let a lack of confidence get in your way?

The latest trend (for a group of filmmakers)

When I began coaching I started noticing a trend across a particular type of group of people I was talking to. Knowing your audience is hugely, vitally important for any business, so I got real clear on who they were:

  • male
  • age 18-29 (sometimes going up to 35)
  • made at least one short film of their own
  • weren’t well-known as a filmmaker
  • usually a director, writer or actor

I knew these weren’t my absolute ideal clients, but I was so intrigued by the common thread in that group and how they were so different to my ideal client.

After sessions with anyone from that group I was always frustrated.

“This guy thinks that his first directorial debut is going to win a BAFTA. He’s completely sure of it. How am I supposed to help him deliver that? It’s only five and a half months until the BAFTAs anyway!”

I’d phoned my favourite filmmaking friend to vent because I couldn’t understand why this guy thought, with five and a half months until the ceremony, that he could make his short film and win the BAFTA for it. It was lucky I phoned him because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have realised what it is I’m about to tell you.

“It’s just the ego of it all. It’s the same with so many of the people I talk to. I don’t know whether it’s arrogance or ego but it’s definitely one of them!”

I was wrong that night. It’s a little bit of both, but fundamentally, it’s confidence. This was the magic word and I thought about it more and more over my many cups of tea.

Who hadn’t picked up on the trend?

I noticed a trend, not just in that group for their confidence (and sometimes overconfidence) but in the other groups I was coaching.

The main other group I coached was nearly identical to the first group, except they were women, not men. They were still in that age bracket, still made at least one film and not hugely well-known for their creative work. But they never had the level of confidence the men did. They didn’t even come close.

Now before we go any further I do have to say that of course there was the odd exception, not every male filmmaker age 18-29 thought he was going to win a BAFTA, but 95% of them all shared that level of confidence in their own abilities.

Across the board, women tend to lack the undeniable confidence in their abilities that I saw in other creatives, and this really shows up in female entrepreneurs and filmmakers.

It really showed up in me until I got a hold of it.

Are you leaving money on the table?

Starting out as a coach in earnest (as I started coaching almost by accident) was nerve-wracking. I had the experience, I’d done the research, I knew my stuff, but I didn’t believe that I did.

I didn’t have the confidence in myself I needed to put myself out there. I’m part of a lot of filmmaking Facebook groups, but it took me months to ever post about any of my work.

Why? Because there were people in those groups that had known me since I was a semi-shy, wide-eyed PA. They weren’t going to take me seriously as a producer, consultant and coach.

That was the wake up call I needed. These groups have 1000+ member so in each one, and it’s where my dream client hangs out pretty often. How many people was I potentially missing out on just because I didn’t believe that I deserved to be listened to?

The bigger question was actually, ‘am I any good at this if I don’t believe in myself?’

Answer: of course I am. I have a ton of beautiful, kind testimonials from previous clients.

The funny thing is that all of my testimonials talk about how I gave someone the confidence to do what they’d been dreaming of. And seeing their careers after they have that confidence is incredible. They make the films they’ve always wanted to, they get out of the jobs they couldn’t stand, and all because they started to believe in themselves.

So how do you get the confidence of the 23 year old first-time director who thinks he’s going to win the BAFTA for his film?

Creating confidence that you can build a career on

Step one: know exactly who you are and what you do

If we met for the first time right now, ideally in a place with turmeric lattes because I have a real bad cold right now, what would you say to,

“So tell me about what you do?”

Being 100% sure of your answer is the first key step to building confidence in yourself, your work, your abilities, the whole lot. If you get flustered and don’t know how to answer, it means you don’t have the confidence in your own answer.

So say it loud, say it proud. Who are you and what do you do?

Steal my answer: Hey, I’m Charlotte. I’m a film & radio producer and coach. I make films about people finding clarity in their lives.

Step two: believe in your own knowledge (and celebrate it)

When you don’t have that inate confidence that we’re looking for here, it feels like you’re constantly on the spot. At any moment someone could ask you how to get accepted to festivals, or how to write an award-winning script. And it can make you feel nervous if you don’t believe you know how to answer.

So indulge yourself by celebrating everything you know. Believe, with your whole heart, in what you know.

You don’t have to be an expert, you don’t need to study it all in crazy detail. What you know already is amazing, and it’s enough. After all, it got you this far.

Bonus tip: if you’re struggling with this one, buy one in-depth book about your job. Read 20 pages every other day and enjoy learning something new whilst backing up what you already know.

Step three: enjoy your little wins

One big success is built up of a thousand little wins, so keep track of them. Enjoy them. Celebrate them.

Get a message from someone telling you they liked your blog post? Add it to the wins pile.

Get a message asking for your advice? Amazing! That means they think of you as an expert in that field. Add it to the wins pile.

These aren’t flukes, or little one-offs. These are people telling you that you’re doing great and this is exactly where you should be.

Bonus tip: keep them all in one notebook and read through it every other day.

Ready for your creative career to take off? Check out my availability for us to go through it together. A strategy call is totally free, as long as you have a free half hour!

Start making your films

Or just stick with the never-ending freelance jobs

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