Entrepreneurs have frequent opportunities to doubt themselves, their plans, ideas and abilities. Perhaps you’ve occasionally asked yourself, "Am I really cut out for this job?” or “Am I on the right track?”
In 1998, I was laid off from a prominent public relations position at a well-known hotel in Palm Beach, Fla. Instead of looking for another job, I decided to start my own company, the Protocol School of Palm Beach.
In the beginning, I had my share of doubts. I often wondered if I had made the right decision and whether I should get a second job to supplement my income. I was short on money and patient. It took me nearly five years to make a profit. Now I'm grateful that I persevered. I've had my company for 17 years and now my business is stronger than ever.
It’s important to learn how to manage stress in moments of extreme doubt so that you can continue to pursue your goals. Here are four helpful tips that will enable you to overcome self-doubt whenever it strikes:
1. Don’t compare yourself to others.
The temptation to compare your business to others in your industry is difficult to ignore. Try not to make unrealistic or unfair comparisons that cause you to doubt your own abilities. Worrying about what competitors are doing wastes time and can leave you anxious and exhausted.
Instead, try to network and learn from the success of others. What did they do well? What challenges did they overcome? A great way to exchange ideas and encourage others is to join a mastermind group. Or hire a business coach or a set up weekly calls with a mentor, someone whom you trust and admire.
2. Acknowledge previous accomplishments.
Any entrepreneur will tell you that starting a business is one of the most difficult paths a person can choose. It takes an extreme amount of work and dedication to take any idea from inception to market.
There will be good days and bad days. Plus, at some point, you’ll realize you can’t please everyone 100 percent of the time, no matter how hard you try.
If you feel like giving up, step back from the situation. Acknowledge what you’ve already accomplished. Show gratitude for having encountered exciting opportunities and positive experiences. Keep an abundance journal to record victories -- no matter how small. When you hit a bump in the road, you’ll be able to look back and remember why you chose your career in the first place.
3. Make decisions in a timely manner.
Running a business entails making hundreds of decisions. Every choice you make will have consequences -- some positive and others negative.
When faced with a fork in the road, many entrepreneurs suffer from analysis paralysis. The very feedback that they solicited from clients, colleagues and mentors now hinders their ability to make a final decision and move forward. They may become overwhelmed by the various opinions and frozen with self-doubt.
The success of a business is determined by the culmination of many small choices over the long term. Running a successful business is more like a marathon, not a sprint. If at some point you make a wrong decision, you can always try to fix it.
So commit to a course of action and make corrections as you go along. The more proactive you are, the more confident you’ll feel in your ability to lead the company.
4. Accept your failures.
Anxiety is often rooted in fear. Mistakes are inevitable. No matter how talented you are or how hard you work, you will occasionally make errors. Some mistakes are easy to correct whereas others take a considerable amount of time and money to fix.
Either way, mistakes will make you a wiser, more cautious businessperson. Successful people embrace failure as part of the journey toward success. Rather than obsess over problems, focus on solutions.
If you make a mistake, don’t cover up or misrepresent what happened. Instead, admit it as soon as possible. When you own up to your failures, you develop a professional reputation of reliability and trustworthiness. Rather than fixate on every misstep, simply take responsibility, learn from it and find a way to correct the issue. Then move on and let it go.