Self-doubt. It happens to the best of us. We find ourselves wondering why our business isn’t going as planned. What we’re doing wrong. Sometimes, that frustration can become so palpable, we may even feel like giving up.
Like you, I have had my own share of self-doubts concerning my business. It wasn’t that long ago that I had my own inner-battle during a difficult time, and my temptation to surrender and throw in the towel was strong. The voice in my head nagged, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I make things work out the way I want in this business?”
But one day, it dawned on me, seemingly all at once in a single a-ha moment.
Since when did giving up ever become an option in my world? After all, I’ve been a single mother, run three successful businesses, survived the torture of graduate school to earn a Doctorate in Psychology, was on national television, and published a popular self-help book. How could I now be even CONSIDERING giving up?
And there it was. The voice of reason had finally arrived and I came to my senses. I realized I didn’t need to wallow in a place of unrest. I needed a new perspective; a different view point on what I was really trying to achieve. It was time to stop the pity-party and get on with the business of doing business.
Here are a few steps I rely on to overcome obstacles and frustrations.
1. Put on your big girl panties. Summon forward the “adult” part of your personality who will tell you that you’re okay, even if something you’re working on hasn’t worked out so far. Remind yourself that you’ve had many more successes in your life than failures. Recall all the previous times you have come across challenges and seemingly impossible obstacles, but have indeed overcome them. You already have a success record, so make sure you take it out and look at it for reassurance. Your adult self will remind you that you’re smart, capable and motivated. You wouldn’t be on this journey of starting your own business and come this far if you didn’t have “what it takes.”
2. Take a step back and take a hard look at what you’re doing. Write down your original plan for your business or re- examine your business plan if you have one. Examine which steps have been successful, or not, according to your original plans. Try to find a common pattern to the successes and failures. For example, see if your challenges come up mostly in the financial or marketing areas. Ask somebody you trust to take a look too. Sometimes an objective point of view will be able to identify patterns you’re too close to see.
3. Examine your patterns for areas of potential improvement. Focus on the areas you have had the most difficulty with. Examine those areas for patterns and write down what you have discovered. If you’re unable to find patterns yourself, it may be time to consult with an expert for that specific part of your business.
Once you have identified success and challenge patterns you will be able to better understand why things aren’t working out as well as you had hoped. If pricing, social media, branding, sales or search engine optimization don’t seem to be working well then it might be time for a change in strategy. Or perhaps it’s time to delegate certain tasks like billing or social media. Find a trusted consultant to help you with your specific challenge areas. Examine what’s not working and look at it with new eyes.
- Sometimes it takes a village to make a business successful. That village may include your family, colleagues, or experts. Make use of as many resources as you can. You don’t have to do it all alone, all the time. Seek help when you need it. Stepping up to the plate and asking for help is not failure, it’s bravely taking the bull by the horns.
- Recognize that frustrations and times you may feel like a failure are natural for those of us in the cut throat world of small businesses. Remember, though, that they are just feelings- not reality. One disappointing result does not a failure make.
- You are perfect just as you are. Cut yourself some slack. Things aren’t always going to be successful all of the time, despite our best wishing skills. We are all human, after all.
- Life has ebbs and flows for a reason. Make use of the down times to re-examine your original vision. Allow yourself some daydreaming to get back in touch with that original vision.
- You are a highly motivated, multi-tasking, rockin’ small business visionary! Don’t forget that for a single second. You are who you choose to be. So go get ‘em!
Post some of these reminders where you can see them when doubt starts to creep in.
And so my fellow entrepreneurs, let’s make a pact with ourselves right now.
Let’s celebrate being genuine and authentic.
Let’s accept our emotions as real and necessary.
Let’s not be ashamed to cry if we need to.
Let’s also realize that we are indeed not perfect and that everyone has disappointments along the way.
Let’s not be so hard on ourselves and recognize that it’s a good thing to ask for help when we need it.
And most importantly of all, let’s remember that we have a special kind of spark and vision to be building our own businesses and taking control of our futures.
In the comments let us know how you handle self-doubt and frustration in your business.
She has learned many of the lessons she shares with others the hard way. Other pearls of wisdom she’s learned from the many people who’s lives she has had the privilege to be part of.She doesn’t really like it when people call her doctor, so just call her Anne. But don’t call her late for dinner.
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