The way we live our lives is shifting: more and more people are escaping the classic employee lifestyle. With the growth of side hustle culture, the call to life as an entrepreneur or solopreneur is ever-present. No surprise really, considering that the internet offers so many money-making opportunities.
But while the media may paint a pretty picture of 4-hour-work weeks and the perfect work/life balance, running a business is so much more than just putting the systems in place to make money.
Like having the self-confidence in business to pull it off in the first place.
That’s not to say 4-hour work weeks aren’t possible, but success takes work.
Sadly, statistics report that most businesses fail within the first 3 years. There are many practical parts to being successful, such as research, careful planning, cash flow and effective marketing. But there’s one thing that is too easily overlooked: Mindset.
Barriers to Success – Mindset in Business is Everything
Self-confidence and positive self-esteem are key when it comes to success, and conversely, can be one of the biggest barriers to growth. In fact, research performed by NatWest Bank in the UK discovered that 60% of women put off starting their own business due to imposter syndrome.
If you want your little empire to thrive, it’s time to look a little deeper. Let’s look more closely at the mental barriers that could be affecting your mindset. And more specifically, the steps you can take to boost your self-esteem in business.
I’m not good enough. People will judge me. I can’t do this.
Sound familiar? Limiting beliefs are exactly that – beliefs about yourself and your abilities that limit you from achieving your full potential.
It’s easy to accept these beliefs as facts, when (in fact!) they are not. They’re merely opinions. Opinions formed about yourself from your childhood to today, based on your experiences. Your inner voice is biologically conditioned to focus on the negative (aka danger) and as such, can be very subjective.
But as Tony Robbins says, “Your past doesn’t equal your future,” and it’s up to you to identify your limiting beliefs and take steps to overcome them.
Fear of Failure
Comparison is the thief of joy, and can trigger an almighty fear of failure. When you begin to compare your journey to someone else’s, feelings of inadequacy and even jealousy can set off a domino-effect of negative thoughts. Before you know it, you’ve convinced yourself that there’s no point, you don’t have what it takes, you’ll never make it, and you halt your progress. This is one of the biggest barriers to your own success.
Fear of Success
What if I do become successful? How will I cope with the workload? Will I be trolled? Yes, fear of success is also a real problem. But you wouldn’t not build a house for shelter for fear of it getting blown over in the wind. You’d build it as best as you could to perform its purpose.
So don’t let a fear of success stop you. If you do encounter problems, you can deal with them as and when they arise. Life isn’t void of problems. It’s how you respond to them that determines the overall effect.
Setting Boundaries – Learning to Say No
People-pleasers are all-too-familiar with saying yes to everything, but it comes at a cost. Namely, your wellbeing and the success of your business.
Perhaps you have boundary issues with a client (scope-creep, for example) or it could be something completely unrelated to your business. Either way, this tiny word, ‘No’, can carry a powerful punch.
If you hate confrontation or are horrified at the thought of upsetting someone, the word ‘No’ might bolt from your vocabulary before you have a chance to draw breath. Thus leaving its much more agreeable word-pal, ‘Yes’, to fill the gap.
Cue feelings of frustration and resentment, and you’re back in a spiral of negative thinking.
Conversely, learning to prioritise your needs can be very empowering, but it takes practice. And the more you do it, the easier it gets. And your confidence grows.
It’s your life, your business, and it’s time to put yourself first.
How to Set Yourself up for Success
What do you want to achieve? As Steven Covey says in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, begin with the end in mind. Then, look at the tips and tools detailed below to boost your well being, and in turn, your self-confidence.
Self-care is particularly important to keep yourself balanced, from prioritising sleep, to eating well, to positively affirming your own capabilities. But first, goals.
Determine Your Goals
If you want to build something, you need to start with a plan. And with a plan, you need to have an end goal in mind.
What is it you want to achieve?
What is your mission/vision for your business?
Who are you targeting? How much money do you want to make?
These are all things you need to consider when setting your business goals.
Take Action – Action Breeds Confidence
It’s all very well having goals and a plan – but you need to actually start. It sounds simple, but if you’re just starting out, or things are a little slow due to you not showing up as much as you should, it’s time to take action.
Sitting and thinking about something gives time for those doubts, fears, and limiting beliefs to start setting in (see above).
By taking action, you see first-hand what you’re really capable of, and your confidence starts to grow.
Don’t overwhelm yourself. Break everything down into really small steps. And if that seems like too much, break them down into even smaller, teeny, tiny steps.
When you take that first step, and the next, then the next, you’re making progress. Giving yourself a nice little self-esteem boost.
Mentalhealth.org.uk writes about how acts of kindness can help to improve your overall well being, which can also help to improve your self-esteem.
And kindness spreads positivity, so what better way to give yourself a confidence boost than by helping out – without an agenda?
Celebrate Your Wins
While you might celebrate a huge win, it’s too easy to let those little wins slide. But the little wins can help to increase motivation (and self-esteem!).
They help to remember why you’re doing what you do, particularly if you’re working towards a bigger goal.
Practise Good Sleep Hygiene
Prioritising sleep and practising good sleep hygiene is essential for your physical and mental health. Staying up too late, blue-light from screens, alcohol, and stress all contribute to poor sleep hygiene, which can have a detrimental impact on your overall well being.
Try to create a calming bedtime routine by eliminating distractions and winding down at least an hour before going to sleep. Sleepfoundation.org has some excellent tips to help you create healthy habits when it comes to getting those night-time zeds.
You Are What You Eat
Believe it or not, what you eat can have a direct impact on how you feel. In his book, Good Vibes, Good Life, Vex King explores how different foods can affect your vibration. He details which foods are ‘high vibe’, and which are ‘low vibe.’ And it makes a lot of sense – the high vibe foods are those provided by nature, and the more processed a type of food, the lower the vibe.
High-vibe foods can positively impact your energy levels, and in turn, how you feel emotionally, so that’s something that’s worth looking into if you want to give yourself a boost.
Exercise boosts endorphins, those all-important happy chemicals, which in turn, boosts your self-esteem.
You don’t need to be sweating it out in the gym every day, just a gentle walk or other form of exercise a few times a week is perfect for regulating your heart, breathing, and stress levels.
And according to this article by Positive Psychology, exercise can increase the size of your brain and help improve your memory and coordination, task management, planning, and inhibition. Which in turn, will boost your confidence. Win/win!
Meditation and Affirmations
Meditation isn’t just for Buddhists and Yogis. In fact, it’s estimated that worldwide, 200-500 million people practise meditation, and for good reason.
As detailed by the ever-popular Headspace app, the health benefits speak for themselves. For example, a small part of the brain called the amygdala – which regulates stress, fear, and anxiety – shrinks during meditation, helping to bring a sense of calm and balance.
Affirmations, or positive self-talk, are really helpful in changing your thoughts.
You might not realise it, but your mind has its own running commentary.
It’s your subconscious running the show, based on your earlier experiences (see the section on Limiting Beliefs, above), and it’s not always kind.
It is actually possible to change a narrative like ‘I’m no good at this’ into ‘I AM good at this.’
Your mind will believe whatever you tell it, so use positive affirmations to start taking control of that commentary.
Make Time for Fun
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
While this proverb highlights the importance of balancing work and play to avoid becoming… tedious, dullness doesn’t just mean boring.
Metaphorically speaking, spending too much time working can literally dull your sparkle, and leave you at risk of burnout.
Which is why it’s so important to have a work/life balance. It’s also why time freedom is so valuable to us entrepreneurs. Taking time out to do what you enjoy can help you to refresh, reset, and nurture your mind.
Play time can help relieve stress (by triggering happy chemicals), build confidence-boosting relationships, and stimulate your imagination.
Hopefully these tips and tools have given you some ideas on how you can boost your confidence and self-esteem in business.
Knowing what’s stopping you and what you can do to overcome your fears is half the battle. Taking action is the other!
Give one or more of them a try and let me know how you get on.