Overcoming Limiting Beliefs As An Entrepreneur

February 7, 2019

 

 

I was not voted “Most Likely to Build a Business Empire” in high school {I know, you're shocked.}.

 

 

 

In fact, my young adulthood consisted of a long line of customer service and administrative roles - some a revolving nightmare (trust me when I say Quiznos-sub-sandwich is a smell that lingers on your hair/clothes/soul), and some I genuinely adored (mostly because of amazing leadership). 

 

 

 

In my teenage years, I had several close friends who seemed destined for the business ownership lifestyle, but somehow I never imagined this reality for myself. It all seemed too big and too complex for me.  

 

 

 

I told myself I wasn’t good with numbers, my ideas weren’t creative enough, or I lacked the technical know-how and ambition to make it happen. 

 

 

 

Needless to say, this running track of lies was creating a real Debby Downer conversation in my head that left me stuck in a tar pit of inaction.

 

 

 

Then one day, someone I love and admire gave me a cold, hard reality slap to the face {figuratively, of course}. And as I looked down on my life from this new 10,000 foot view, it was tough to realize it didn’t align with my true self or the vision I had for my future.

 

 

 

I was letting limiting beliefs run my life. 

 

 

 

And even worse? I was letting myself believe my “calling" would hunt me down and straighten me out like a strict but well-meaning Universal Parole Officer, without me having to take any risks.

{Yeah, right.}

 

 

 

That day, I decided to stop letting my fears be more important than my potential and started taking the small daily steps towards my purpose. 

 

 

 

Does that mean I have it all figured out now?

No.

 

 

 

Does it mean I’m always 100% sure of what I’m doing or the next step to take?

Of course not.

 

 

 

Entrepreneurship is messy {by nature}. And doing something for the first time is bound to produce mistakes. But you wanna know the good news? There's a whole mess of people out there who can't wait to help you succeed {like me!}.

 

 

 

And because serving others is a passion of mine, I wanted to share a few things I've learned along the way about overcoming my own limiting beliefs in the hopes that it will help you claim the life that's waiting on the other side of yours. 

 

 

 

 

1) Change Your Relationship With Failure

 

Most of us are conditioned to think failure looks like: getting a “D” on a test, not scoring the winning goal, not getting the promotion, or going into debt. 

 

 

These traditional ideas of failure are taught to us throughout our young years, and are often (knowingly or unknowingly) reinforced by the most influential people in our lives. 

 

 

When we think of failure in terms of our worthiness or ability, it’s easy to see how it can slowly eat away at our self-confidence. It leaves us with layers of hesitation and self-doubt that stunt forward motion and growth. 

 

 

Entrepreneurship forces us to re-arrange our relationship with failure. Rather than seeing it in the traditional sense, "failure" should begin to look like: giving up when things get hard, not being resourceful, being a poor leader, being too afraid to make mistakes, and not learning from those mistakes once they’re made. 

 

 

That doesn’t mean it’s going to feel good when you make mistakes or when you don’t feel like you’re excelling at the level you should be, but have faith that life is not 100% about feeling good - struggle is a necessary part of the process {plus, don't you think your dream life is worth a little bit of discomfort?}. 

 

 

“One thing is sure in business. You and everyone around you will make mistakes.”

- Richard Branson 

 

“There is very little learning in success.”

- Michael Dell -

 

“The trouble is not that we’re making too many mistakes, but that we’re making too few.”

- Phil Knight -

 

“A mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement.”

Henry Ford -

 

 

2) Identity Your Largest Fear and Face It

 

Ever heard the phrase “Do the hardest thing first”? The same principle applies when it comes to overcoming your limiting beliefs. Whatever your BIGGEST obstacle is, face it first, and the other obstacles will automatically seem less daunting. 

 

 

If your biggest fear is:

 

Actually STARTING your business -> Register your business name and tell 5 people close to you to check in on your progress in the next 6 months. Then don’t avoid their calls.

 

Creating a business plan -> Find templated business plans online and mix and match until you create one that makes sense for you. Continue customizing and improving it as you go.

 

Your idea isn’t good enough -> Validate your concept by reaching out to 20 people who fit your ideal client persona and ask if they’d be interested in using your product or service. If at least 15 say “yes", you’re probably on to something. ;) If they say “no", ask them why, then listen and adapt.

 

Your talent isn’t up to par -> Start putting your stuff out there and FIND OUT! If somehow it’s not {unlikely}, seek training, practice, get better, and try again.

 

You don’t understand the numbers of business -> Start researching budgets, income goal sheets, and P&L’s for your desired industry. Immerse yourself in the numbers, get comfortable, ask them to be your friend, invite them over for dinner.

 

 

The more you shed light on your fears, the more you’ll realize they’re not as big and scary as they looked in the dark - and if you do come across an obstacle that genuinely stumps you, don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

 

 

3) Handle Your Money Hangups

 

As an entrepreneur, I can promise you there will be days where you’re broke as a joke. Throughout the life of your business, there will be days, months - or if you’re really daring big, even years - where you lose money. You'll have to spend money on marketing, coaching, training, and hiring talent to grow to your full potential.

 

 

All of this requires one big “come to Jesus” conversation with yourself about your relationship with money. Assess how you feel about money - do you harbor fear around money and scarcity or do you see it as a fluid resource that flows in and out of your life with confidence and ease? The emotions you attach to money affect your business in many ways, from what you think you’re worth to whether or not you’re willing to invest in growth.

 

 

For some, this is arguably one of the toughest limiting beliefs to overcome {🙋🏻}. When I find myself in a “clenched fist” mentality about money {afraid it’s not going to come, or afraid of spending it}, I turn to Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass at Making Money to bring me out of my funk. 

 

 

Please note I'd never advise anyone to throw money at “get rich quick” schemes, it’s essential to be intelligent with your money and spend it on things that will genuinely move you, your business, and your life forward. That being said, an entrepreneur should be ready to A) face some money hardships without losing hope and B) invest in yourself and your business. 

 

 

 

 

4) Find What’s Working and Model It

 

One of the biggest time-wasting mistakes entrepreneurs make when they’re starting out is trying to reinvent the wheel. When I first opened the doors to Ink & Vellum, I hadn’t done the necessary due diligence on successful creative entrepreneur businesses, much less tried to model any systems, processes, or practices {whoops!}.

 

 

As I grew, I naturally came across people who were excelling in my industry and began to learn what was working for others, what their client processes looked like, how their pricing scale worked, and how they promoted themselves to potential clients. As I started to model these things in my own business, things became more effortless and streamlined. That gave me the breathing room to personalize, tweak, and improve the process. 

 

 

Modeling success doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be coming up with your own, original ideas for how to brand, operate, and promote your business. It also doesn’t mean what’s working now is still going to work in 10 years. As your business grows, so should your strategies. However, following a successful model upfront will provide you with a solid foundation from which to customize, innovate, and perfect.

 

 

 

 

5) Bring the Joy

 

When you and everyone around you is engaged in the moment and having a blast, is self-doubt a pressing issue on your mind? Of course not! You’re too busy having fun!

 

 

Joy, laughter, gratitude, and positive interaction are things you should strive to bring to your business every day. They not only remind you of why you started your business in the first place, they draw clients and talent to you magnetically.

 

 

When you see your audience interacting with your brand in a positive way, it’s hard to question whether or not it’s worthwhile. After all, most of us start a business because we want to make a difference or bring joy to the world in some way.

 

 

 

 

6) Do Comfort Zone Challenges

 

The most dangerous thing you can do as a business owner? Fall into a comfort zone mentality.

 

 

You should always be reaching for things that freak you out a little, whether that’s making your first hire, raising your prices, or spending the extra $90/month on that software subscription that’s going to take your business to the next level. It doesn’t matter how simple or life-changing it is, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give yourself - both in life and in business.

 

 

To give yourself an easy way to test your comfort zone boundaries, try setting weekly or monthly challenges to help you achieve larger goals.

 

 

A silly (yet important) example for me: As a largely home-run business, I often find myself tempted to sit on the couch to work - it’s warmer, it’s more comfortable, it’s closer to the fridge {you get it}. Yet, I know I’m more productive and less distracted when I work at my desk. So this month, I’m doing a progressive desk challenge. I work at my desk one day the first week, then two days the second week, then three...and so on.

 

 

It doesn’t need to be a giant leap, just taking consistent steps to push yourself outside of your comfort zone will end up making a huge difference when you look back in a year’s time. 

 

 

 

7) Think in Terms of Longevity

 

Setbacks, obstacles, and hardships are part of the process. Learning to expect and handle these hurdles with the right mindset will ensure your business stays strong even when times are tough.

 

 

One important way to prepare yourself is learning to think in big picture terms. When our vision for our lives and our business only extends 6 - 9 months out, it’s easy to see how financial hardship or a tough learning curve might be enough to make us quit. But when we think in terms of 5 - 10 years, those things are nothing more than a blip on the radar. Entrepreneurs who own this long term mentality are the ones who make it through the struggles and come out better for it. 

 

 

8) Get an Educated Cheerleader, Role Model, or Mentor

 

There's nothing more powerful than surrounding yourself with people who have your back, hold you accountable, and support you in reaching your goals.

 

 

Career coaching is a phenomenal option and should be sought out as soon as humanly possible {and remember, coaching will most likely increase your revenue by keeping you focused on things that move your business forward, so consider opting into it a little BEFORE you think you’re ready}, but in case you’re still in the "eating beans from a can” phase of your business, these options are also highly effective at keeping you motivated and on track:

 

 

 

A PERSONAL CHEERLEADER: A personal cheerleader is someone in your life who understands and supports what you’re doing and is invested in helping you succeed. For me, this person is my sister. She’s the first person I call when I need to vet an idea, when I have a tough situation I need to talk through, or when I’m feeling stuck, down, and broke. Talking to her not only keeps me accountable to following through on my ambitions, it supercharges my day with fresh perspective and massive amounts of feel-good emotion - which we all need on days we’re feeling discouraged. A personal cheerleader is someone who’s able to encourage you and act as a positive sounding board. Find this person. Love this person.

 

Some important notes on personal cheerleaders:

 

1. You should always ASK before you designate someone as your official cheerleader. If you thrust the role upon them without their permission, it can easily become a burden {and you may start getting ghosted on phone calls}.

 

2. Always, always, always make sure you ask your cheerleader how you can provide equal value back to them, whether that’s cheering them on in return or babysitting their kids one night a week. ;)

 

 

AN ENTREPRENEURIAL ROLE MODEL: An entrepreneurial role model is someone who’s currently thriving in your industry {or a similar field} that you can both relate to and look up to. Try to find someone you wouldn’t mind BEING in 5 - 10 years, and then absorb all the wisdom you can on how they run their business, deal with clients, engage their audience, and generally approach life. Emulate those things. Then build on those things and make them your own.

 

 

 

 

9) Respond to Caution With Gratitude

 

While most of us won’t encounter flat out discouragement from loved ones, many will encounter “well-meaning caution".

 

 

Well-meaning caution comes in the form of comments like “Seems like a bit of a gamble honey, are you sure this is the right thing for you?”, “Have you thought through all the risks?”, “So many businesses fail in the first few years, I just worry about you”, “Are you sure you can do this full time and still make ends meet?”, etc.

 

 

These comments should be acknowledged for what they are: someone who loves you trying to keep you safe. Which is very sweet. 

 

 

But you know what? "Safe" doesn’t build empires. Nor does it help you live your purpose. 

 

 

So take a moment to thank them for their concern, validate your commitment, and then ask for their support and positive reinforcement moving forward. 

 

 

 

 

10) Set Your People Up For Success

 

Your friends and family are a huge part of your life and their attitude toward your venture is important to your mindset. To help them best support you through your journey, it’s important to educate them on what’s to come. 

 

That means talking about things like: 

 

The financial reality: Depending on how much financial backing your business needs to get up and running, you may have to watch your spending at home or pass on girl’s night out for a while. 

 

The time commitment: Career independence doesn’t come for free and entrepreneurship is not your typical 9 - 5. Sometimes you’ll have the opportunity to take a month long vacation or go meet with a friend in the middle of the day, and sometimes you’ll be working 12+ hour days for a week straight. Set proper boundaries with the people who depend on you daily (spouses, children) to make sure you’re respecting their needs, and then ask that they support you in the rest. 

 

The vision: Get your loved ones behind your vision and make sure they understand why it’s so important to you. This will give them the tools they need to support you and lift you up when you’re feeling spread thin. 

 

The progress: Your level of involvement, role, and vision for the company will all likely change as your business grows. Make sure you keep the important people in your life informed so they understand what to expect as things develop. 

 

 

Want access to more awesome business advice designed to help you grow, shine and connect? 

 

 

Subscribe now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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