I get it, being an entrepreneur is hard. It's hard to always stay positive. It’s not all crunchy granola, ooey gooey feel good stuff. How you talk to yourself has been proven in studies to affect your mindset and, subsequently, real world results. Consistent negative self-talk, especially if it centers on your business planning, entrepreneurial ventures and the like can turn a potentially successful venture into a failure -- sometimes before you have even given yourself a chance.
This doesn’t mean you have to start making vision boards or saying affirmations to the mirror each morning (though it may not hurt). It does mean entrepreneurs in the making should consciously nix self-talk and replace it with something actually useful.
You already have enough challenges to deal with logistically with starting a business. It’s hard. What you need is as many cheerleaders and supporters as possible, starting with yourself. Here are some of the most common examples of negative self-talk and why it’s keeping you from success:
1. I’m going to fail.
You’re more likely to fail with that self-talk, certainly. Plus, you don’t really have statistics on your side since the numbers don’t lie: The vast majority of startups do fail. It’s how you see those challenges and take them on that make a difference.
You only have two options as a potential entrepreneur who knows the failure rates: Think you’re going to fail, or think you’ll be an exception. Choosing the latter is a much healthier option. However, should you fail (it happens), learning valuable lessons will make you much more likely to succeed next time.
2. I suck as a leader.
Nobody is a natural-born leader, but everyone has traits they can hone to make them a great leader. Remember there are many different types of good leaders, and you don’t need to mimic a particular style to find success. Of course, there are a lot of successful entrepreneurs who aren’t good leaders. That’s why they hire a CEO to take care of the overall leadership for them.
Entrepreneurs are jacks of all trades, masters of none (it’s kind of a requirement), so if leadership isn’t your thing, work on that weakness but also consider bringing on a stronger leader to fill the gaps.
3. I’m not a real entrepreneur.
There’s no industry-wide degree, certification or licensing to become an entrepreneur. It’s not like saying “I’m not a real plumber.” The reality is that even the definition of an entrepreneur is up for debate. It’s not about fulfilling a certain number of criteria to “be” an entrepreneur. Don’t ask yourself if you’re really an entrepreneur or put yourself in charge of defining what it is. It’s not important. If you want to start a business, you’re on an entrepreneurial track. It's time to step out of your shell and become the leader that you're meant to be.
4. I’m a horrible salesperson.
Join the club. It takes a very special kind of person to be a “natural” salesperson, but anyone can learn those skills. There are many ways to work on your sales skills, but remember that the ultimate goal isn’t to be the salesperson on the floor talking to every single customer. Right now, you need to “sell” yourself, your business and your goods/services to investors and your early customer base. There’s an end in sight, since ideally you’ll eventually hire sales teams. You can do anything for a while. Remember: It’s not only “salespeople” who can sell.
5. My worth is, well…
If you don’t think you’re “worth it,” why should anyone else? A lot of entrepreneurs don’t believe in themselves and devalue their worth, which sets them up for failure. Don’t focus on your “worth,” but instead work on your business drive. Being scrappy with a hustler attitude is what it’s going to take in the early days. Also, “worth” is very subjective, and not necessarily tied to a specific figure. There are plenty of other things to focus on at this point.
You’ll face plenty of negative talk on this journey, so why join in? Welcome support from all angles, especially yourself.