Fear and self-doubt are common elements in any burgeoning business. However, owners must learn how to manage these difficult yet inevitable stressors in order to succeed.
Self-doubt and fear are not only healthy parts of a business, they are a necessity. They make us stop, think and consider the possible consequences of our actions. If, however, you find that you are constantly second-guessing yourself or afraid to take any risks, not only can the success of your business be compromised, but also your mental and emotional wellbeing.
It’s been shown time and again how important perceptions are in business, and as a small business owner the image you portray impacts your relationship with staff as well as clients. For this reason, it is vital that you are able to identify times where you may be consumed by fear and self-doubt and, more importantly, that you are able to combat them.
Acknowledge the successes
The greatest fear a business owner can have is that their business will fail. While this is a possibility, recurrent thoughts of failure that do not result in some form of positive action do little to safeguard your business.
Instead, aim to focus on your successes and increase your understanding of how they came to be. Also remember to acknowledge your own personal accomplishments, abilities and successes. Running a business can be challenging, so remember to reward yourself as well as your staff.
Every failure is an opportunity to learn and improve
Some failures will be minor, while others will be more substantial. The key is how we bounce back from them and what we are able to learn for the future. When we are able to view problems or failures as learning opportunities, we are less afraid of them. We also feel a sense of achievement when we are able to overcome them.
Don’t just ask the scary questions, answer them
It’s very easy to become consumed by questions beginning with “what if”. What if I don’t break even this month? What if we lose our biggest investor? However, we rarely take the time to answer them, often out of fear.
Rather than simply asking yourself endless questions that lead to doubt and worry, answer them. Think about what you would do if such things were to happen and how you could react positively. Often when we answer these questions, we find that the questions are much scarier than the answers.
Have a back-up plan
When we feel prepared, we feel confident. Our bases are covered and we are ready for what may come. It is of course impossible to be completely prepared for all scenarios, but having an awareness and willingness to face up to possible problems and put tactics in place for dealing with them before they occur can take away a lot of the stress caused by the unknown.
Having regular brainstorming sessions with staff and colleagues about potential concerns can be a good way of gaining different perspectives, as well as avoiding being blindsided by issues we may not have considered.
Asking for help
As a small business owner, it can be tempting to try to take on every aspect of the business. While maintaining control is important, it is equally as important that you are able to ask for help when you need it. This can include the support of your staff and colleagues, family and friends, or external parties such as a psychologist who specialises in business matters.
Acknowledging success and being prepared for, rather than fearful of, the unknown is the starting point to pushing past self-doubt. By remaining mentally vigilant and as prepared as possible, you are in a much better position to overcome any fears and self-doubt that may stand in your way.
This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Nick Petrovic is a registered psychologist and head of clinic at the Mind Profile Psychology Clinic and has more than 10 years' experience in the allied health and business. Nick has contributed to regular columns in more than a dozen business magazines and newspapers, advising on issues such as mental health, work related stress, strategic planning, business analysis and human resources.