Despite the countless uplifting stories we’ve all heard about the entrepreneurial journey, the truth is that success is an uphill battle for many. Each business win validates the decision to start and stay in business. Every stumble, however, may push an entrepreneur to doubt their skills and question the longevity of their business venture.
When your business isn’t doing as well as planned or you meet an unexpected obstacle, knowing how to deal with challenges and remain mentally strong is the key to persevering. To help, 16 members of Forbes Business Council share advice on how entrepreneurs can effectively manage and overcome self-doubt.
1. Lean Into Personal Values, Integrity And Expertise
As leaders and entrepreneurs, we naturally walk the path less taken. Self-doubt is inevitable; however, we manage it by focusing on positive gains, examining our circle of influence and who’s in our ear, eliminating excuses and heightening our self-awareness and awareness of others. Lean into your personal values, integrity and expertise versus the lure of decision making based on ego-driven validation. – Natalie DiBlasi, LACED Agency
2. Find A Mentor And A Coach
Line up a mentor and hire a business coach! Both of these have helped me to keep a positive mindset and also achieve milestones in my career along with tracking my success. When in doubt, go to the mentor. When you need coaching on self-help, confer with the coach. Schedule biweekly meetings with the coach for 30 minutes to keep on track. – Nicole Dunn, Dunn Pellier Media, Inc.
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3. Make It Work With What You Have
Spoiler alert: Nobody has a playbook! You are in this position because of your own special talents. Focus on how to make the best solution out of the ingredients you have. Each situation is different, but by thinking creatively and relying on your strengths, you can help lead yourself to great outcomes and success. If you fail, so what? You learned something. – Dawn Massa Stancavish, Massa Products Corporation
4. Understand Your Strengths And Where You Need Help
Know your strengths and get support. As a business person and psychotherapist to many business owners over the years, I have seen that it is so transformative when you know the skills you bring to the table. Also, create a board of supportive people for the areas that are more challenging. This includes both on the team and in your life. – Mollie Eliasof
5. Remember It’s Only Temporary
When self-doubt creeps in, it’s important to remember that this too shall pass. Remember what’s working and how far you’ve come and focus on the lessons in the setbacks. Listen to podcasts, read articles and tune in to webinars featuring fellow entrepreneurs so you know what “normal” looks, sounds and feels like. Build a circle of founders with whom you can be vulnerable without judgment or fear. – Kriste Goad, fuoco
6. Recenter Your Self-Worth
You have to center your self-worth on something that’s not success, perfection, status or how other people see you. This isn’t the easy answer, but it’s the right one. Ideally, your self-worth would be centered on your values, the critical few choices as to what matters to you most and whether you’re living up to those values. Imagine you lose everything and you’re what’s left. Is that enough? – Tam Thao Pham, DryShield
7. Look At The Experiences Of Other Entrepreneurs
We make meaning through stories, so the best way to overcome doubt is by analyzing the stories of successful entrepreneurs. We mostly only hear about success stories and not the real struggle. If you look carefully, you will notice a long struggle. Delayed success is also the result of how much you experiment. Some entrepreneurs who succeed fast experiment more, so fail fast to succeed faster. – Anjali Sharma, Narrative: The Business of Stories
8. Make Decisions Based In Facts, Not Emotions
Overcoming self-doubt is my biggest challenge in making business decisions. I need to be patient in decision making, meaning that I need to avoid making snap decisions based on emotion rather than waiting for the facts to be collected, reviewed and understood. When I make a decision based on digested facts, I don’t need to doubt it. Experience has shown that these have been the right decisions. – Susan Naftulin, Rehab Financial Group, LP
9. Build A Board Of Advisors
Entrepreneurs are famously independent, but fighting self-doubt is, ironically enough, done by recruiting others. A board of advisors, consisting of trusted friends and successful entrepreneurs in your community, can be a game-changer. If you are right, they will reinforce your decisions. But if you are treading a perilous path, it’s best to hear it from your friends. Assemble a board of advisors! – Mark Sirkin, Sirkin Advisors
10. Set Attainable Goals
Self-doubt is tied to the way we view success. Entrepreneurs have to focus on the processes that lead to success rather than success itself. Set short, attainable goals. As you meet your goals, keep these victories in mind when self-doubt threatens to claim your confidence. By following through with the practices and perspective of a successful entrepreneur, the right plan will fall into place. – Vito Vishnepolsky, Martal Group
11. Remained Focused On Your Goals
Focus on your goals at all times. Walk that bridge and keep looking straight ahead. Even if part of that bridge starts collapsing, don’t look in the abyss and never give in. If you look down into the abyss, it’ll stare at you and swallow you. – Bernard Casse, RIOS
12. Embrace The Journey
Trust the process. Understand that there is no such thing as “delayed success,” as people achieve success at their own pace and timing. The most successful entrepreneurs I know are those who embrace the journey and find ways to celebrate wins regularly, no matter how large or small. Start by putting one foot in front of the other and do not ever stop, no matter what. – Josh Shaffer, Talent180
13. Experiment On How To Best Meet Customer Needs
Entrepreneurs seldom experience overnight success, even those with multiple startups under their belt. Delayed success can easily lead to self-doubt. To help, take inspiration by running regular experiments to find out what makes users even happier. This process gives you the confidence to know that you’re building something people value and can impact it, which is all that matters in the long run. – Cameron Jacox, Lark
14. See It As An Asset
A little self-doubt is actually an asset for an entrepreneur as it opens your mind to the possibility of being wrong and constantly having to rethink plans. That said, a leader has to learn to live with their self-doubt; they should neither bury it deep inside nor be consumed by it. Introspection helps. When you know why you doubt yourself, you will know whether it is well-founded and what to do about it. – Sriram Padmanabhan, Cymorg Inc.
15. Write Down And Address Your Doubts
Imposter syndrome is real. I have seen different levels of success in my career and still feel it some days. I commonly write down my doubts and, throughout my day, I take notes on why they are or are not true. This allows me to focus on areas that need growth while equally dispelling doubt. When processed correctly, these doubts can evolve into success points or growth opportunities. – Joshua Curlett, Sound Productions
16. Practice Mindfulness
At every stage of business, questioning and doubt is present, so let’s normalize this experience for everyone. I have a three-step process to overcome my doubt. First, I stop my thoughts when my brain starts spiraling into unworthiness. Second, I list out all the reasons why I belong where I’m at and deserve what I have. Last, I speak truths out loud to remind myself why I am built for this. – Alisha Pennington, ATvantage Athletic Training