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5 Personal Obstacles That Limit Your Success These common psychological obstacles hold potential business owners back from succeeding.

By Firas Kittaneh Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Though there are many advantages to owning your own business, the path to actually being an entrepreneur is not so rosy. And many of the problems actually affect the mindset of the entrepreneur.

Related: 3 Tactics for Dealing With the Stress of Running a Business

Here are some of the most common psychological obstacles that hold potential business owners back from succeeding, and how you can avoid or overcome them:

1. Financial burden causing emotional stress

Starting a small business is usually an expensive proposition. The average small business costs about $30,000 to launch and operating costs can tack onto that price tag quickly. Even small home-based businesses that come with little overhead have a significant opportunity cost. Instead of working in a steady job and earning a reasonable salary with benefits, you're taking on the burden of making money for yourself.

And knowing how difficult it is to estimate when your small business might start turning a profit makes the whole prospect both terrifying and paralyzing.

Related: 5 Decisions Every Entrepreneur Must Face

The bottom line is that you need some sort of financial net to cover your personal expenses, at a minimum, while you're building your business. Waiting until you have a year or two of savings is a good idea, but is not always practical.

At least try to find a side source of steady income. You can moonlight as a consultant in your area of expertise, do some freelance work or participate in the sharing economy by running tasks for TaskRabbit, driving for Uber or renting out your home on Airbnb.

The financial security that results will allow you peace of mind and the ability to make decisions based on long-term success and sustainability, instead of the kind of desperation that comes from trying to drive short-term profits.

2. Tying personal value to your company's value

Starting your own business is an extremely personal venture. As your business starts to take off, it's easy to feel that you're a success. Yet the problem with tying your sense of self-worth to your business' accomplishments is that entrepreneurship is a bumpy path. Businesses start off slowly and come with many challenges and missed goals along the way.

In fact, only one-third of all start-ups even last a decade. It's easy to see how this can quickly become disastrous for entrepreneurs.

Instead of tying your value directly to business success, then, consider your achievements outside of entrepreneurship. If you have trouble recalling these, keep a list handy. Whenever you start feeling low self-worth due to your company's performance, reference the list and reflect on the other positive aspects of your life.

3. The perfection paradox

Inertia is one of the greatest enemies of success. As an entrepreneur, you need to be quick on your feet, and reactive. You cannot wait until you have the perfect plan before taking action. You need to simply dive in and take a few risks.

By taking action and letting go of your need to always be perfect, you'll have the chance to swing for the fences on moonshot ideas and potentially hit a home run.

4. Lacking substantial guidance

One huge obstacle many entrepreneurs face when they're first getting started is their lack of formal guidance. When you have a traditional job, there is a list of duties you need to perform and a manager who holds you accountable. When you're running your own business, you must be the one to hold yourself to a higher standard.

One simple way to keep yourself on track isto compile a list of all the activities you need to perform for any specific day, week or month, and to maintain that schedule. If you need to bounce these ideas off somebody or look for a little guidance, seek out successful entrepreneurs you know and respect.

If you don't have any connections, look for a local Small Business Development Center. These centers provide free consultation and mentors who can change your attitude and mindset so you are no longer your own biggest obstacle to success.

5. Overworking yourself

The average entrepreneur works very long hours, which can lead to burnout and encourage unhealthy lifestyle choices. Constantly on the run, you'll end up over- or under-eating, and what you do eat may actually have negative consequences on your personal health and work performance. Additionally, you may not have the time to sleep or exercise as often or as long as you'd like. The combination of this lifestyle and stress can cause serious health issues and ensure that you are rarely in a mindset for success.

To avoid this, you need to make a concerted effort to invest in yourself. Exercise each day and schedule time to get a full night's sleep. If you're having problems holding yourself to these standards, see a doctor regularly. Your doctors can keep you accountable to a healthy lifestyle and ensure you're not working yourself into poor health.

The business responsibilities that come with being an entrepreneur are vast and challenging, but the personal responsibilities are just as important.

Related: 10 Fears You Must Overcome When Starting a New Business

By staying vigilant about the psychological challenges described here, and doing everything you can to avoid them, you'll put yourself in a better place to succeed and enjoy the fruits of your hard work for many years to come.

Firas Kittaneh

Entrepreneur • CEO at Amerisleep • Sleep Evangelist

Firas Kittaneh is the CEO and co-founder of One Mall Group. At his company, he oversees a set of specialty ecommerce brands, including the offerings of Amerisleep, an eco-friendly luxury mattress company. 

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