Doubt is a powerful emotion.
When starting a business we can have a clear vision of what we want to do, how we want to do it and why, we can even feel pure excitement from the idea of doing it, so why is it so hard to execute it? How do we manage doubt when starting a new business?
I wrote this extract back in April 2017, shortly after finishing my 7-day silent retreat. I knew what I wanted to do, I knew how to do it, and I felt pure excitement, but I was left with the feeling of doubt. I didn't have the intention of using what I wrote for an article - at the time I was just exploring my own doubt to try and navigate my emotions - but on a recent flight to Amsterdam I read my own notes and felt inspired to share. It is a real life example of how to manage doubt effectively. Here is what I wrote;
I have 2 very big visions; MyOfficeMove.co.uk and Willblakey.co.uk. For the last 7-days I have been at a silent meditation retreat to try and let go of some negative thought patterns that hold me back. I have so much information in my mind but executing that into physical work is challenging. Why? Because I feel doubt.
During my 7 days I have had moment of pure clarity where I can see all of the answers. I start to write exercises, build business plans and develop marketing strategies in my mind and they make perfect sense. I conjure up a feeling of power that tells me I am good enough and that I know what I am doing . At that moment in time I tell myself that I wish It were possible to extract all of my thoughts in case I forget them. It's not possible, so I convince myself that I will remember, and I let the thoughts go. But, within moments, literally seconds later, I feel panic, fear that I'm not good enough and I begin to rethink everything. This time it's form a completely different energy. Doubt kicks in.
- What if I don't know what I'm doing?
- What if I am wasting time on this idea?
- What if other people don't believe in me?
- What if I fail?
- What will my family say?
- What will my friends think?
The list is endless. The questions I ask myself create anxiety and fear, both of which are limiting emotions. So I ask myself, How do I overcome this doubt? Should I ask for help? Should I just do it and find out? Should I give up?
The problem with asking for help is that no one around me will give me the advice I need. My family will tell me to get a job, my friends will tell me to stop overthinking, and the people I work with are completely bias - they want to get paid!
The problem with just doing it and finding out is that I may be ignoring my own inner guidance. Doubt can be a useful tool if we explore it properly, and we may learn new insights that help us to make better decisions about what to do.
The problem with giving up is that I'll never know. It's not the things we do that we regret, its the things we don't do. If I give up now then I'll never learn to follow myself, trust my own judgement and I'll never develop my own gut instinct.
So what do i do?
Write it down or lay it down.
Writing down what it is you doubt, why you doubt it and where those doubts come from provides a platform to decide whether to continue listening to that doubt, or how to overcome it.
Below is what I wrote while exploring my own doubt, (I hope it is a useful example for you);
What am I doubting?
- Whether will blakey.co.uk will be successful.
Why am I doubting?
- I haven't done this before
What does success look like?
- 4 new clients per month
How do I get 4 new clients per month?
- Free content to add value to users
- Subscription tool with mail chimp to send 6 emails, with the 6th email being a call to action
- Give free 30 minute consultations
- Affiliate marketing
- Be yourself
How many subscribers do I need to get 4 clients?
How many free consultations do I give to get 1 client?
What will I say in this free consultation?
What am I offering clients?
What exercises will I give?
How will I get people to the site?
How will I monitor it's success?
How will I take payment?
What will I charge?
What content does the site need?
Why will people pay me for advice?
How do I do SEO?
I visualised what I wanted, I felt doubt, I explored it, I wrote it down and this was what I was left with. I could answer the first 4 questions straight away but I was left with 12 things to process. When I got back from Thailand I began working on answering all of them. One by one I checked the list and got closer to making my vision a reality. When doubt kicked back in I took my own advice, I felt it, wrote it down and repeated the same process.
So my advice to you when starting out in business is to feel doubt!
- Don't ignore.
- Don't suppress it.
- Don't tell yourself you shouldn't feel doubt.
- Write it down.
Doubt is completely normal. By the very definition when there is hope, there is doubt. So if you hope that you're new business will be successful, there will be doubt. By feeling it and writing it down you'll create an actionable plan that will take you one step closer to making it a reality.
Starting out in business is the most difficult time for an entrepreneur. Please remember that it always takes longer then you think, so be patient, be kind to yourself, and keep building yourself every step of the way.