Once you work at overcoming self-doubt and the fear of failure it gets easier to take action to bring your entrepreneurial dream to life which can also lead to many other personal dreams coming to life as well, because starting a business is about more than making a living. It's about the fulfillment of your creative spirit and personal vision. It's about pushing yourself constantly to live up to your full potential. That's why the hardest part of getting started and sustaining your business is overcoming your own thinking. Yes, there are external challenges when you're trying to start a business: funding, competition, product development, hiring, and so on. But what really matters is whether you believe you have the ability to face and overcome those challenges. Until you can jump over your inner roadblocks, the outer ones will stay firmly in place.
Overcoming your inner obstacles is about learning to rethink
the fearful thoughts that can lead you to quit before you start. It's
about changing your mind-set. This is the crucial tipping point that
will allow you to unlock the door to what you deserve. I have found
that many people don't pursue their dreams because they don't feel
that they deserve them. But what if you do? As Penn State football
coach Joe Paterno says, "Believe deep down in your heart that you
are destined to do great things." I believe we all are--that each and
every one of us has a special purpose and meaning.
For example, one day a woman told me that she wanted to open
her own boutique, and she wanted to ask me a few questions about
getting started. She said it had been her dream since she was a little
girl. She was now forty-eight, her kids were grown and in college,
and time was no longer an excuse. I listened to her story, and it was
like so many others I've heard: excuse after excuse--not enough
time, not enough money, not enough connections.
I have heard this story so many times that I was frustrated.
So when this woman finished, I simply said, "What if you could
do it? What if it became the most successful boutique in the area?
What if you won awards? What if you could impact the community
in ways you never imagined?" I kept going for a minute, and the
woman's eyes got bigger and bigger. She was clearly thinking, "I
never thought of it that way before." We are programmed to look at
the "everything that could go wrong" side of our dreams, and we're
told that to look at the "everything could go right" scenario is naïve
and childish. Maybe too idealistic. I beg to differ.
In my journey, one of my greatest strengths has been my ability to rethink
my fears and doubts by asking two huge questions: "What if?" "Why not?"
"What if?" and "Why not?" are powerful questions in
my universe. They empower me by reminding me to embrace the
"everything could go right" scenario and to imagine all the great
I remember when I developed my habit of asking these questions
into a strategic tool. When I was launching the Butler Bag Company,
everyone in the industry told me that my concept wouldn't work.
The first few times I sat in meetings and heard the doubts, I became
defensive. That only prompted others to defend their points of view,
which got us nowhere. One day, I was sitting in yet another meeting
with people questioning my ideas and telling me what I couldn't do.
Finally, I realized that I needed to stop defending myself. Instead, I
asked, "What if my idea does work? What if it redefines the indus-
try and you had a chance to be a part of it and chose not to?" The
change was stunning. The person sitting across the table from me
was no longer defensive. He stopped and gave serious thought to
what I had said. The power was all flowing toward me, allowing
new perspectives to emerge. This changed everything.
When you start asking these kinds of "What if?" and "Why not?"
questions, you rethink your fears. You turn them into potential and
then into reality. Today, when someone says, "Jen, that's crazy," I
think, "Fantastic! I must be on to something!" Original thinking is
always ridiculed until it becomes accepted wisdom.
Try it now. Make it a habit. Every time you start to flood your mind with thoughts of self-doubt or some else does it to you, hit the mental reset button and begin thinking of all the great possibilities and potential. Then put your ideas into action to pursue your dreams.