Confidence is baked into entrepreneurship. It has to be. Otherwise few rationals would take the leap. But it's the mission of law professors to knock confidence out of students. That's supposedly the initial phase of the making of a lawyer.
Unfortunately, too many lawyers never regain their former belief in themselves. Yet, it's essential when flying solo or being part of a small firm.
When building GE into an empire Jack Welch hammered the importance of confidence. In deconstructing forms of power in his book "The Power Game," journalist Hedrick Smith highlighted confidence as a source of power in Washington D.C. Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Kanter devoted a whole book - "Confidence" - to the role of self-belief in comebacks and preventing a bad situation from becoming worse.
Frame what doesn't pan out as simply "did not deliver on plan." That siphons off blame. Examine the lessons learned and treat them as a gift.
I interviwed the parents of a retarded child for the 30th Anniversary of The Vantage Group. They said that the development was simply not one they had planned. That was it.
View everything, including the wild successes in your solo practice, in a neutral way.
Try. Try. Try. The books on running your own business which authors make money on are usually prescriptive. They tell you what you must do. The reality is that a few things work for your particular practice. To find out what they are you have to keep trying out strategies and tactics. In itself that requires confidence in yourself. So, you better pretend that you are plenty confident. You know the old saying: Fake it until you make it.
Flee most advice-givers. You may have to tell them bluntly, "You know nothing about my business." A very few may be on the money. The rest have something wrong with them. Otherwise they wouldn't be spending their time being a pest - and with no compensation. Had they something of value to contribute they would be writing a book, be on the speaking circuit and coaching newbies for big bucks.
Unloading the burden of those nuisances will give you an unexpected jolt of confidence. In May I did just that. They were, of all things, left-over somethings from college days. How the hell they climbed up into my wiring, hey, that was a temporary failure of confidence.
Put together a non-work network. Normal human beings, not in competition with us and not in a position to envy our success, build our confidence. That's one reason man is a social animal. We need that.
The level of confidence can fluctuate. But don't let it ever go beneath the point at which you trust your gut.