4 Ways Entrepreneurs Hold Ourselves Back

March 25, 2011 by  
Filed under business, personal development

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?

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8 Responses to “4 Ways Entrepreneurs Hold Ourselves Back”
  1. That’s a fresh and original post. I’m a big believer that one’s sacred duty is to realize one’s potential and part of that is having the awareness to see the obstacles and the wherewithal and sometimes courage to overcome the challenges. Your post could be the basis for a very good book. Wishing you the best.

  2. Kola says:

    this is so true. i would humbly add that another thing that holds people back is not truly understanding the value of what they bring to the table. when i set a price for my services, they are non-negotiable. not because i’m hard nosed, but because i know the value of my service and i know that my prices are fair.

    this knowledge is so powerful because it allows you to walk away from unprofitable opportunities and leaves you wide open to work with some of the best people in your field.

    unfortunately, too many entrepreneurs are too busy being afraid to look inward and believe in what they offer.

    (you got me preaching up in here! haha) love this post. keep doing what you’re doing.


    • Anilia says:

      I agree 100% Kola. I think that goes back to #2, shying away from sales. If a person knows what they’re worth and believes in their value, then they shouldn’t have a problem communicating that worth and asking for the sale.

      I’m still coming along with this part too. I think alot of it stems from the vast majority of people receiving a paycheck and having their employer set their perceived value, not the other way around.

  3. Galen Pearl says:

    What a great post full of practical ideas. I’m not starting a new business exactly, but I am starting a new chapter in my life which does include marketing (and questioning credentials) and I found this post very helpful. Thank you!
    Galen Pearl recently posted: There is no Them

  4. I agree with the comment about not waiting for the perfect time. For the longest time, there has been something job related that I wanted to do, but (this may shock some) it has taken me about 9 years to actually pursue it because I was waiting. I kept telling myself, after I’m done with college.

    Then I said, after I get more dinero. No more waiting. I think I waited so long to pursue my real dreams because I was so afraid of being rejected/failing. Looking back, I feel disappointed that I thought that way because now I think that if one has passion one will work hard enough to succeed.

    Well, before, I had passion but my fear killed it. Well, no more waiting. Ladies, (and gents if any reading) follow your dreams and don’t give up. Keep that passion and go go go. Don’t wait for the perfect time. Now is good enough.

    P.S. I still think its important for people to keep up with their bills and responsibilities while they pursue their dreams.
    Big Sister (pen name) recently posted: Success Takes A Positive Attitude


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