Tech entrepreneur Tanya Sam: How to keep self-doubt from holding you back

The Ambition Fund Founder Tanya Sam.
Courtesy Tanya Sam

Tanya Sam knows that to succeed in business, you need the confidence to keep taking risks that lead to growth. The nurse-turned-tech-entrepreneur, who recently appeared in Bravo's 11th season of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," is also working to help others achieve their business goals.

Seeing a lack of capital support for women and minority-led businesses, for example, she recently founded The Ambition Fund, an investment company focused on funding such underrepresented business owners.

But raising funds to launch a business is just one challenge. Having the necessary confidence is another.

Sam sees many women in tech doubt their abilities. "It's really interesting and super-fascinating because so many women say things like, 'I'm just not sure, I don't know if I can do it,' and ask questions like, 'What if they find out that I'm not perfectly qualified?'" she tells Grow.

How doubt can hold you back

When she thinks back to her mentors in nursing and tech, Sam says that "most of them have been men" who helped her develop "some strength in the workplace" and to become more assertive. "They taught me a lot about how to think," she says, adding, "When it comes to impostor syndrome, men don't typically tend to have that."

Self-doubt can be crippling, even if you objectively know you're qualified for that promotion or raise. Questioning your ability can make you hesitant to take even worthwhile risks.

Plus, undervaluing your contributions to your workplace, and self-doubt in general, has been shown to affect your bottom line.

Part of Sam's aim is to make it easier for women to gain confidence, and to succeed, by providing financial support. She also serves as director of partnerships at TechSquare Labs, a technology start-up hub and venture capital fund, where she has mentored over 60 companies with women and minority founders. The start-up hub has invested in more than 30 companies — and those companies have raised over $300 million dollars in venture capital and generated over $100 million dollars in revenue.

How to gain confidence

One way to get ahead is to build faith in yourself. That requires you to better understand that you've earned your credentials and deserve to be where you are. Here are Sam's tips to help you recognize your worth, align your strength with your goals, and get ahead in your career.

Find mentors and supportive coworkers. "Sometimes you need people around you to tell you, 'Girl, you're here because you should be, because you're awesome,'" Sam says.

Break the rules. "The most visionary entrepreneurs break the rules," Sam says. "If you look at something like Uber, they broke the rules of the taxi market and built a business that disrupted how we get around and travel."

Never pass up an opportunity: "Whether it's a job opportunity or a project opportunity, always present yourself as up for the task," says Sam. And if you think you're not qualified, "you can figure it out later, but always say yes!"

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