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How to Surmount Your Self-Doubt as an SME Entrepreneur

self-doubt as an entrepreneur

Do you ever have those days where you start to question what you’re doing? Not just whether this, that, or the other decision was right or wrong. But whether you should even be making those decisions in the first place.

Externally you might appear bold and confident. But inside, you’re battling imposter syndrome. Because you’re an entrepreneur, and self-doubt is part of the package.

But while self-doubt is a common trait of the human condition, if it gets out of hand, self-doubt can be crippling. Decisions don’t get made. Or worse, get made and made again. You second-guess yourself, damaging your own confidence, and the confidence of others in you. So, what can you do to quieten those demons and limit self-doubt?

Seven tips for laying self-doubt to rest

  1. Understand your niche

Getting to know your niche seems more like new business prep 101 than a step towards building self-confidence. But unless you really understand your sector, your customers, and your relationship to both, you’ll never really be able to act with any certainty. Decisions will be based upon either guesswork, or optimism, with no solid foundations to support you. It obviously doesn’t make good business sense. But neither does it provide a strong footing for self-belief. Because you’ll always know that there is reason for doubt.

  1. Avoid negative feedback

Negativity comes naturally to most of us. We are predisposed to accept negative views. So, when someone questions or criticises what you’re doing, you can’t help but dwell on it. Even if everyone else thinks that what you’re doing is right. So, if you can rely on a particular person to continuously rain on your parade, it may be worth trying to limit your contact.

  1. Focus on your successes

You have done a lot well in your life. You may not always feel it, but you are epic! Whether it’s getting your degree, launching your own business, raising a family of your own, or none of those things, you have done a lot. You have big plans. It may sometimes feel like those plans are just too big for you to manage. But just coming up with the ideas to make those plans is awesome. So, don’t forget to take time to reflect on the good stuff. Because it has the power to carry you through the bad.

  1. Set manageable targets

Sometimes, one of the best ways to manage doubt is to focus on the things that you can achieve. So, set measurable goals for the shorter term. You obviously can’t just set aside that grand business plan. But bit plans are usually completed in multiple baby steps. So, look at what you can do now. Then gain the confidence of a good job well done.

  1. Build long-lasting business relationships

Clients and partners often come and go in business. Relationships are rarely static. But if you can gain the confidence of your partners and customers, and build long-term relationships with them, that confidence will be reflected back on to you. If they trust you enough to continue buying your products, using your services, or supplying you with goods, then you can begin to trust in your own decisions.

  1. Replace negative self-talk with affirmations

OK, so affirmations jar with some people. But they can be a great way to trick your brain into self-belief. Not because you really need to tell yourself that you’re awesome every day. But because it’s better than telling yourself that you’re awful. Hands up who’s called themselves an idiot today. Hands up everyone who’s called themselves something worse! The vast majority of people talk to themselves throughout the day. Sometimes, we’re even unaware that we’re doing it. But a lot of that self-talk is highly negative. And as we’ve already discussed, negativity sticks. Swapping out the negative for the positive may not make you think that you’re the best damn entrepreneur ever born. But it may help you to combat your sense of inadequacy.

  1. Remember that everyone has been there

Self-doubt affects everyone from time to time. Even the biggest names in business – Arianna Huffington has been very open about it – struggle with self-confidence. So, be kind to yourself when self-doubt strikes. It doesn’t make you any less worthy. It simply means that you are human.

Self-doubt has the power to really hold you back as an entrepreneur. It can put a cap on your business potential because if you don’t have faith in yourself, it’s hard to persuade others to have faith in you. By taking steps to tackle it, you’re taking back control. Allowing you to make the best decisions for both yourself and your business.


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