There is No Secret
by: Shannon McNay
One of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur or solopreneur is the plaguing feeling of self-doubt.
When you’re running the show and don’t have a boss or manager to give you positive reinforcement, it’s too easy to forget that you know what you’re doing or even that you’re good at what you’re doing. When you’re the person at the top, it can feel like you’re in an echo chamber – your own ideas bouncing back at you but no one to help brainstorm or validate.
People don’t talk about this enough. So we go through it and forget that it’s completely normal. Then it gets worse and we start to think, “Am I missing something?” or “Why does that person seem to be doing so much better than I am?” or “What’s the secret?”
There is no secret.
Do You Want to Improve? Study
I know this topic well because it’s something I suffer from on a regular basis. I spend a month or two or three feeling great, then all of a sudden I get hit with a tidal wave of self-doubt. I recently talked to the incredibly talented Kali Hawlk about this and she gave me some important advice:
If there’s anything you feel like you don’t know, or anything you’re unsure of, do some research. You’ll either learn something you don’t know or find out that you know a lot more than you thought you did.
This advice is on point and it’s an effective way to use logic to overcome the emotional state of self-doubt. Rather than wallowing, you can actually do something about it. For me, that means reading all of those articles I “saved for later” in Pocket and Feedly or, per Kali’s advice, trying out a course on Skillshare.
This reminds me of the other important thing to do: talk about it.
If you talk to someone in your industry, there’s a good chance they’ll know exactly how you feel, having been through it themselves (the same way Kali immediately understood how I felt). They’ll also be able to tell you what works for them and help you see that you really aren’t alone. The absolute worst thing you can do is isolate yourself – it will only allow negative feelings to fester.
Remember to Focus on the Bright Spots
There’s another important thing to remember: it’s not up to you to know it all or to do it all. Because I’m a content marketer, I tend to think I should be a great writer, growth hacker, social media specialist, and general marketing genius. It would be wonderful if I were equally good at all of these things, but there’s no getting around the fact that I’m not.
So I could spend all of my limited free time learning how to be the best at everything…or I could focus on the bright spots. Learn how to do what I do better. Practice, practice, and practice some more. Research for ways to improve my craft and become more efficient. And remember that I’m never “done.” Then, for those skills that I don’t excel as much at:
Find people in your industry who bring to the table the things you don’t do as well as you’d like. Learn from them, work with them, maybe even include them as a partner for your business. I like to think of this as a puzzle piece: what kind of person would be able to fit your puzzle piece? What kind of skills can bridge the gap for you?
Just because you’re a solopreneur or entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. In fact, you shouldn’t! Why go it alone when there are so many talented people out there to work with – and who likely could use your skills as well?
Consider this: teaming up can help you focus on your bright spots while you find others who can do what you can’t and you can combine networks to gain access to even more potential clients or deals. If you find someone with whom you have trust and a good rapport, then this could take your work and business to the next level!
Keep Moving Forward
Finally, the most important thing you can do is to keep moving forward. Don’t give up in those moments of self-doubt. Don’t allow negative feelings to eat away at your confidence or stand in the way of your best work. Talk to people about it, do some research, focus on the bright spots, and team up.
They say starting a company is like jumping out of a plane and building a parachute on the way down. Embrace the fear and keep doing what you do – as long as you never stop learning, you’ll figure it out!