'Eliminate Self-doubt': The Most Important Attitude That Entrepreneurs Must Develop

Play the devil's advocate everyday - Try to find the failure points of your business idea every day

It does not matter whether you have just graduated from a college, or have a successful career. If you are an entrepreneur or thinking about taking the entrepreneurial plunge, then there is this one attitude independent of age, experience, wealth, or education that is crucial to your success. This attitude has everything to do with your confidence and self-respect. Think of it as a spark that ignites the domino effect in full speed, starting from your company’s inception to becoming successful.

The golden two-word attitude of entrepreneurs is — Eliminate Self-doubt.

Many entrepreneurs don’t even realize this because self-doubt is sub-conscious. It masquerades itself in other forms and negatively impacts your venture growth. Suppose you discussed your idea with a friend or family, you would have heard something on the following lines:

  • What if your idea fails?
  • What if someone easily copies your idea?
  • You don’t have the luxury of capital like the bigger brands in your market place. What if they crush you before you take off?
  • Why do you want to leave the comfort of your monthly paycheck?
  • What if you spent 3-4 years and still failed? What will happen to your career? Will you be able to get a job as failed entrepreneur?
  • What if you don’t get the right team? Do you read about how many startups stumbled because of internal team conflict?
  • Start-up failure rate is 99%. Do you really want to take chances with such a high risk?
  • Doing business in a country like India is tough. What if corrupted bureaucracy and long approval processes affect your growth?

All the examples above subconsciously trigger your self-doubt. It is your internal ‘kill switch’ that stops you from taking action.

No matter how much you try to reasonably motivate yourself with the faith you have on your idea, someone from your circle will invariably activate your kill switch. In a few cases, you trigger this kill switch yourself by inducing negative thoughts.

Entrepreneurs must realize the self-destructive outcome of self-doubt. In other words, do not venture into your start-up if you are the type of person who gives into self-doubt easily. This does not imply that you will never face failure or feel let down. In fact, for every happy moment you experience in start-ups, there will be 10 - 12 upsetting moments.

However, entrepreneurs are thick skinned when it comes to the confidence-of-assumption attitude. They have conviction that irrespective of challenges they face in executing their ideas, they will work their way around problems. This is because hurdles emerge across all stages in the start-up — Ideation, prototyping, testing, delivery, funding, marketing, scaling and branding — and the only attitude that governs across all chaos is the elimination of self-doubt.

The good news is, entrepreneurs can train themselves to eliminate self-doubt. To eliminate uncertainties is to invariably eliminate self-doubts and this can be accomplished by these three steps:

  • Become a voracious reader — Apart from reading popular books on entrepreneurships, market research, and other subscriptions related to your idea, read about how your solution can impact the whole ecosystem beyond your target audience. For example: If your idea is to build an AI application in the healthcare field, read about overall economic policies, best practices of non-competing businesses, geopolitical influences etc. in healthcare. This holistic approach will induce confidence in your venture, especially when you are trying to form your initial team.
  • Play the devil’s advocate everyday — Try to find the failure points of your business idea every day. In other words, wake up each day with the thought that something you ignore will destroy your company. This is not to be confused with inducing self-doubt, but training yourself this way will make you revise and adapt your innovation accordingly. This will also help you in forming your maiden team and discussing with investors.
  •  Share your idea boldly — Avoid the notion that someone will run away with you idea and execute it. In fact, the opposite of this is true. Some will offer to join you, given the conviction you have on your idea. At the very least, sharing your idea with others doubles up as robust primary research. You will develop network with right resources who could eventually become your advisors or mentors.

Practicing the above methods for three- four months will give you enough courage to sideline your self-doubts. Eventually, you will have developed an attitude that constantly looks for learning in every situation and making your idea into reality.

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