The other night, as I was talking myself through a self-imposed hurdle, I was inspired to write this post.
I’m familiar with what it takes to start a business and each step along the way. But that doesn’t mean I’m immune to the fear, self-doubt and worry that can come along when you put yourself and your ideas out there.
Sometimes you can get so paralyzed by the fear that other people will tell you ‘no’, that you don’t even put yourself in the game. And that’s really sad.
Because that is simply confusing one person’s opinion with your worth. For example, if someone looks at one of my shirts and doesn’t like them, I’ve come to learn that that’s just their opinion – their opinion isn’t a measure of what my business or my product is worth. Just as someone’s good opinion isn’t a measure of worth for me. Ultimately, I set my own worth – my opinion is the only one that truly matters.
How We Hold Ourselves Back
I’ve found that we limit ourselves in alot of ways because we subconsciously seek outside approval. I think this is caused by being attached to the outcome of what we do. It’s not enough for us to start a business and do something we love – if other people don’t validate our worth, then we tell ourselves that we’re not good enough.
Here are four ways entrepreneurs hold themselves back, and strategies to get around them:
1) Second-guessing expertise
People assume that in order to be an expert at something, you have to have credentials and years of experience. That is a false assumption. Expertise simply means that you know more than another person, and have something of value to offer in that area.
How to get out of this mindset: realize that what you know, right now, is enough. If you’re passionate about your niche and invest time in educating yourself, you’ve already attained a level sufficient to market yourself. That doesn’t mean you stop learning and growing – that just means that you stop putting off starting your business until you learn more. Because you’re setting yourself up for failure that way. You’ll never know enough, you’ll keep changing your minimum requirement to start, and opening day will never arrive for you.
Start exactly where you are. No more delay.
2) Shy away from sales
When Jamie over at For Colored Gurls asked me what was most stressful about Black Girl Tees, I immediately had an answer. Marketing is tough – but asking for the sale is even tougher!
If you’re providing something of value, you deserve to be compensated. It’s not free for you to make your products and the time you give when you provide your serve is valuable also. Plus people put more value into what they pay to receive – how many free ebooks have you downloaded but never read?
How to get out of this mindset: if you don’t get paid for what you do, then it’s either a hobby or volunteer work. This is another area where you have to work to detach from outcomes and not see someone’s opinion as your worth. Some people will not pay, regardless of how low the price is. You just have to go where there are paying customers who want what you’re providing.
You should also spend time learning how to make sales and how marketing is integral to any business. That will aleviate some of your anxiety and inexperience with generating sales for your business. Don’t go in blind like I did – make this a part of your pre-launch research, or if you’ve already started your business, make sure you regularly study sales and marketing techniques.
3) Support the wrong people
It’s a beautiful thing to support a minority-owned business, especially if you’re a part of that minority group. You feel great for supporting businesses with missions that align with your own. But I’ve seen business owners that don’t appreciate my patronage and take my business for granted. I’ve also seen where entrepreneurs I know reach out to black business owners, and get burned for their efforts.
How to get out of this mindset:supporting minorities is awesome, if it’s what you believe in. But you shouldn’t drag your business down in the process. Only support those who’ve shown that they’ll maximize the value of your time and money, regardless of skin color or nationality. Khadija has a great post about this on her blog.
4) Waiting for the perfect time
When exactly is the perfect time to start a business? Is it after you’ve found all the investors you need? The perfect commercial space? After you’ve become more of an expert than you already are? How about after things die down at work, or your kids are done with school?
There is no perfect time. The time is now. That’s the only time you have, and the only time that exists. You can’t act in the future, you can’t act in the past. You can only act right now.
While you wait for things to get less hectic, or less whatever it is you’re waiting for, things could go in the opposite direction.
How to get out of this mindset: realize that there’s no perfect time. Perfection doesn’t exist. The planets aren’t going to align in the exact way you need so that things will be easy for you. While you delay, others are making money doing what you could be doing, pefection be damned.
You can’t know everything you need to know or do everything you need to do before you start, because there’s always something else. The beauty of running your own business is that you run it, so you control the pace. Once you’re up and running you can add the skills, resources, people and other things you need to your business, but it’s best to actually be up to attract those things to you.
You are the only thing standing in your way. I hope you see that with a few tweaks of your mindset, you can launch yourself on the path to your goals. So what are you waiting for?