5 Tips for Overcoming Your Self-Doubt

As a small-business owner, your success depends on overcoming myriad challenges — market forces, limited resources, and time constraints to name just a few. But frequently the biggest obstacle is your own lack of confidence in your abilities.

More than just a psychological scourge, self-doubt can have tangible effects on your business, compromising your ability to lead, grow your brand, and surmount those other challenges [PDF] we mentioned above.

Here are five tips for overcoming your self-doubt:

1. Remember your successes. The fear of failure probably plagues small-business owners more than any other fear. Fear can be a motivator — if it’s attached to an identifiable challenge and it spurs you to positive action. But more often it takes the form of a vaguely defined threat that you fixate on endlessly. When that’s the case, rather than ruminating, put that mental energy into revisiting past business successes and personal accomplishments. When you understand how you achieved them, you’ll feel more confident facing whatever challenges lie ahead.

2. Take action. Self-doubt keeps you stuck. It makes you question everything, impairs your problem-solving abilities, and makes it nearly impossible to make decisions. Acting decisively — even taking a small step toward a goal — is the surest way to break free of those mental handcuffs and move forward.

3. Face your fears. “Feel the fear and do it anyway,” “fake it till you make it” — however you phrase it, there’s something to be said for just walking into your fear. Confront your doubts head on and you’ll likely find the outcome isn’t half as bad as you imagined.

4. Monitor your self-talk. Your internal dialogue has incredible power over your attitude and performance. If you constantly put yourself down, question your decisions, and indulge in self-defeating thoughts, you’ll quickly get demoralized. Be aware of your self-talk and make sure it’s validating your abilities.

5. Join a small-business group. Fear shrinks your perspective. Participating in an entrepreneurial meetup, a mastermind group, or any other gathering of small-business owners gives you access to ideas and experience beyond your own. This is just what you need to refocus on the big picture. Plus, you’ll discover you’re not alone, which itself can go a long way toward vanquishing your fears.

About Michael Ansaldo

Michael Ansaldo is a veteran technology and business journalist and content marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s biggest brands including BMW, Intel, and Yahoo. He also works with small businesses to help them build their brands through content and social media.
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3 comments
Karen Dawkins1
Karen Dawkins1

Self-talk is the one that gets me. I have to "rethink my thinking" every day. It is getting easier though.

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  1. [...] Action item: Work to build your confidence. Pick one area in which you feel inadequate right now. Decide what knowledge and skills you need to learn, and then take the first step in doing so. For example, if you struggle with public speaking, join a Toastmasters club. With each perceived weakness you improve, you’ll gain confidence. That will be the key to making stronger decisions and to silencing your inner critic and any self-doubt. [...]