How To Overcome Fear and Doubt in Business


As small business owners, unfounded fear and doubt can hold us back and keep us from taking necessayr decisions. Fear and doubt cause us to play it safe and keep our business small instead of being the highly successful companies they could be. But at the same time, fear and doubt can act to make us quite successful. Let me explain…

When I was a kid, my parents sent me to swim lessons at the local YMCA. After the daily instructional time was over, most of the other kids would take turns diving into the pool. Instead of joining in, I would still use the steps to get back into the water.

I wanted to be able to dive in, but for some reason, maybe it was fear… maybe it was doubt… but whatever it was… it was holding me back from having fun with the rest of the kids. One afternoon, while I was standing at the edge of the pool wondering if I’d ever get up the courage to dive in, one of the kids gave me an unexpected shove into the water.

What happened as a result, would change my outlook on life forever, but first…

Fear and Doubt in business

Sometimes in life or business, our unfounded fears and doubts can cruelly keep us from achieving our life’s goals and aspirations. We look around like I did at that pool so many years ago and think that we are alone in our fears. But we are not alone. The truth is that we all have to overcome fear and doubt at one time or another in our lives…

And it happens to be normal!

I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened. - Mark Twain Click To Tweet

But, too often we can get stuck in our own stinking thinking. We begin dwell on such negative feelings until our outlook on life and business becomes skewed and unrealistic.

Thoughts like:

  • What if people begin to believe I’m nothing but a big fake?
  • What if I make a mistake and give a client the wrong advice?
  • What if no one signs up for my workshop?
  • What if I never get another client?
  • If something is not perfect, it’s a total failure.
  • What if I never make this small business profitable?

The truth is that thoughts and feelings like these are almost always irrational because they have little or no basis in reality. Many people will attend and like your workshop. You will get another client. Mistakes are part of life. Those things reflect reality, not the black and white thinking of someone who is captive to their fears and doubts.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way.

Here are three things that have worked for me to overcome fear and doubt when it’s trying its darnedest to hold you back.

Overcoming Fear and Doubt Step 1:  Focus on What Has Worked and Is Working Now In Your Life or Business

Your own “self-talk” has a profound influence on how you feel and act. When you’re consumed with negative thoughts, your positive energy will diminish and be replaced by fear and doubt. Positive affirmation of oneself will go a long way to building up our courage and pushing out doubt. Instead of thinking about imminent failure, remember and list all the successes you have had so far in your life or business. Many successful people will tell you they’ve had more than their share of failures along the way, but they will tell you that’s how they became so successful. Resist beating yourself up when you make a mistake. Rather, see overcoming them as an opportunity to grow.

Overcoming Fear and Doubt Step 2:  Ask for Help

The next time you make a mistake or feel doubtful about something, resist going it alone… ask for help! Fear and doubt creep in and take up residence in our heads when we don’t seek help or advice outside of ourselves. Sometimes all you need to do is toss around a few ideas around with someone you trust. Chances are you know someone who has experienced a similar situation.

Overcoming Fear and Doubt Step 3: Have a Plan “B”

When fear and doubt begin to take hold in your mind – Get logical. Take out a piece of paper and list out all the possible outcomes including “if-then” plans if things begin to go wrong. For example, “if the first test ad works, then I will commit to the larger program”. If it doesn’t work, I’ll determine what went wrong or scuttle the whole idea.” Putting such things in writing can boost your self-confidence and help eliminate fear of the unknown. It also acts to respect that inner voice you have that may be holding you back, rather than simply ignoring it.

Back to my involuntary splash down into the pool… I not only survived but began to wonder why I’d doubted myself in the first place. Once I got past those feelings, I eventually earned a coveted mile swim trophy a few years later… something I’d always wanted!

Do you have a story of overcoming fear and doubt that you are willing to share? Email me at [email protected]

I’d love to hear it!


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