Most of us, who have started entrepreneurial ventures, have gone through several self-doubts on whether we took the right decision to pursue our dream venture and start-off on one’s own. We have also faced self-doubts when we have taken decisions through our journey of building our companies.
So if you have self-doubts and questions about why you took the plunge as a startup entrepreneur, relax. You are not alone. Self-doubt is a very normal human response whenever we are faced with challenges that initially seem insurmountable. How you handle these self-doubts, face your internal challenges and build your business will be the key differentiator between success and failure of your dream venture.
Accepting that you are not alone is a great start to addressing your own self-doubts. Here are some pointers from my learnings addressing the challenges I have faced in my entrepreneurial journey.
When faced with challenges, look back at your successes
Think of all the successes you have had in the past whenever you are faced with self-doubts and concerns. Positive thoughts will help you prepare better for each day’s challenges.
Stop worrying about what others think of you
You have embarked upon your entrepreneurial journey to achieve your dreams. Worrying about what someone else is thinking about your business or what your friends may think about how you are building your company is only harming yourself. Remember that others are too busy facing their own self-doubts and challenges to think about you and your challenges!
Dream Big. Think Small
As an entrepreneur, dream of the big picture and where you hope to take your young business five years from now. However, your tactical plan to achieve your dream must be to set “bite sized” goals for yourself and your teams on a weekly, fortnightly and monthly basis. Only when you start to achieve your small steps will you be able to run towards your dream.
Get great people in your organisation and delegate effectively
Putting together a good management team always helps in better decision making. Once you have a good team, empower them and delegate effectively. Remember that you only have a finite amount of time every day and you do not have the skill sets to handle all the work. At the same time, remember to set up strong systems to seek accountability from your people.
Do not be afraid to take decisions – right or wrong
When confronted with challenges, your people are looking towards you to take tough and well thought through decisions. Hesitating, procrastinating or deferring decisions can only harm the long-term interests of your business and your people. Not taking a decision is worse than taking a wrong decision. An incorrect decision can be corrected but a management team, faced with an entrepreneur who does not take decisions will be directionless.
Keep evaluating yourself
As the person who has the greatest stake in your business and your success, keep evaluating yourself constantly. Keep thinking of the worst-case scenarios that you could be confronted. Once you recognise and understand your downside, you will be able to take better and well thought through decisions.
Remember to carve out personal time each day
I have met many entrepreneurs who just cannot find time from their busy schedule. They are so immersed in their business that they fail to find time for themselves to introspect and they fail to find time for their family. Personal time, every day, gives you the much-needed breather from your hectic work schedule. If you can add an exercise schedule in your daily routine, you will be helping yourself with a fitter body to face your challenges.
Learn to forgive yourself
I have met many entrepreneurs who keep regretting an incorrect decision and hence keep punishing themselves for what “may have been” the direction if they had taken another path. Will not forgiving yourself make a difference? Will you be able to turn back the clock? If the answer to both these is no, then you are wasting your time. Forgive yourself and move forward with a correct decision.
Do not wallow in self-pity
Mistakes will happen. Either you can run with the ball or you can wallow in self-pity. A weak entrepreneur transfers his uncertainties and self-doubts to the entire team very quickly and this can have snowballing consequences on the health of your young business. Pessimism in an entrepreneur is very visible to everyone.
Discuss with family
Remember that your biggest supporter throughout your entrepreneurial journey will be your family. Keeping them advised of what you are going through will get you a lot of support at home. Moreover, you will be surprised at how valuable the inputs you get from your family can be in handling your own self-doubts.
Staying connected with friends and the community you live is essential to retain your sanity. Keeping in touch with what is going on in the World is important to retain your perspectives. An all-consuming business can never be a recipe for long term-success.
While it is good to take strong ownership of your business, getting emotionally involved with your business is never advisable. Every entrepreneur needs to learn to distance himself from his business.
When you look back at the end of a few years, you will realise all your self-doubts only made you a stronger entrepreneur. Finally, remember that it is a lonely job at the top as an entrepreneur and keeping yourself motivated to keep pushing ahead will be your first and biggest challenge.
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