Overcoming Self Doubt When Setting Out on Your Own

  •    Freelance writer focused on web development, email marketing and baseball. He lives in Los Angeles, but wishes he lived in Tokyo.

If you've started your own business, you've probably been there: wide awake at 3am, wondering if this is the best decision of your life or the worst. Have you prepared enough? Is your idea any good? Should you have stayed at your last job like a normal person?

All entrepreneurs have moments of self-doubt. It doesn't matter if you've started a plumbing business or mix craft cocktails out of a cart. What's important when facing these moments is to not allow them to knock you off course.

How can you do that?

Find a Mentor

Finding at least one other person with whom you can discuss your ideas and struggles should be a priority. This need not be a wise old sage, learned in the ways of entrepreneurship. Nor does it need to be someone from your specific field. Or even someone older than you. Though it may potentially be annoying to get advice from a snot-nosed kid who already thinks they know everything.

You're looking for someone who has their own business, has kept it going for at least a year, and seems to be doing what they love. They can provide both advice and empathy, since their previous experiences will be at least somewhat similar to your current ones. Set up time to talk twice a month over coffee or wine or maybe even both.

Richard Branson attributes much of his early success to having a mentor. That's why he created his own mentorship program. He says, "If you ask any successful businessperson, they will always say they have had a great mentor at some point along the road."

Having a mentor can help you:

​Embrace Delayed Gratification

Building a successful business takes time. It takes effort. It takes a vision for where you want to be in one month, one year, five years. There will be stretches where your goals seem out of reach, where you won't see a paycheck, where it seems like all your work might not be working and is ultimately adding up to nothing.

But the work you're doing is adding up to something, and it's important you keep it up day-in and day-out. The seemingly little things you do on a daily basis are what will add up to those larger goals.

This same principle applies to many parts of life. Want to lose 30 pounds? It won't happen in a week. No magic diet will melt that weight away. You restrict and count calories. You find time to exercise. You lose 1 pound a week, it feels like so little day-to-day, but seven months later you've reached your goal, feel great, and you're ready for even bigger things.

Delaying gratification is greatly assisted if you:

​Set Lots of Goals

Much as setting a daily calorie limit and then tracking what you eat can help keep you on course for losing weight, setting daily and weekly goals that build towards your longer term dreams can ensure you reach them.

Do you have a six month goal of three paying customers a week? Great! Set smaller goals that will help you get there. Start by getting two customers in a month. Celebrate when you get those two monthly customers. Then set a slightly larger goal, and celebrate when you reach it.

Create an even smaller goal for every day and then do it. How can you get those two customers? Do you need to finish your website? Run an ad or two? List your business on Yelp and similar services? Network with other business owners? Use time management techniques to help you get these things rolling.

While you're at, be sure to:

​Make Time to Relax

"Together with a culture of work, there must be a culture of leisure as gratification. To put it another way: people who work must take the time to relax, to be with their families, to enjoy themselves, read, listen to music, play a sport." - Pope Francis
Always set aside at least one day every week to rest and clear your mind. Regardless of how much or how little you feel like you accomplished the week before, you absolutely deserve it. Even the Pope agrees.