business self-doubt

How to Overcome Business Self-doubt in Times of Crisis

27 March 2020 | by Roxana Alexandru

Fear. Anxiety. Stress. Self-doubt. These are just a few of the multitude of feelings I’m feeling right now. 

I’m on this crazy emotional rollercoaster ride where one hour I feel on top of the world because the sun is shining and I’m motivated, and then the following hour, I find myself all the way down in the dumps imagining my family ending up homeless.

There’s no in-between. If I do somehow manage to put on makeup during the day, I feel like I can conquer the world, but if I take a peek at myself without it, I feel like I’ve aged a million years in the past two weeks. 

As I said, I’m on extreme ends from one moment to the next.

I noticed lately since we’ve been in isolation, that my self-esteem has gone down and my self-doubt has gone up significantly. I lay awake at night paralyzed at not knowing what my next step should be. Sometimes, when I read newsletters or scroll through social media, I get inspired about all the great things people are doing out there to pivot their business and offerings during social distancing. 

But then, the moment I think about how I could potentially help those with Social Anxiety during such a time, I put myself down instantly. I have thoughts like “who are you kidding Roxana, you’re not ready to offer people anything”. Or “everyone else already has a standing business to pull from. You don’t even know where to start. No one needs to hear from a confused person”

And just like that, I’m imposing limits on myself. The one thing I definitely shouldn’t be doing in a time like this.

Know you’re not alone

If you’re feeling the same, know that you’re not alone. You probably have a million and one ideas you want to execute but that little voice inside your head won’t let you. 

I’m going to explore some of the reasons why your self-doubt is magnified during this time, and hopefully, give you some tips on how to navigate through it. Because even though I’m extremely aware of the internal conversations I’m having. I also know what it takes to shut them up and proceed with my intended goals. 

The fact that I’m here writing this blog post while entertaining my 3-year-old is proof that I’m pressing through the negative self-talk that’s plaguing me throughout the day!

3 doubts you might be having right now

So, whether you’re working full-time for a company dreaming of having your own business. Or you’re the proud owner of a domain already. These thoughts might be going through your head right now as social distancing becomes the norm.  

Doubt #1

I’m too late to the game. By the time I come up with something to offer or help my community, everyone else will be far ahead of me (or the world will have moved on)

Let’s be real here, there are plenty of opportunities to capitalize upon during this time as a business. Yoga studios are live-streaming their classes, teachers are selling curriculums for the parents stuck at home, and content creators on YouTube are in high demand. 

I’m not saying we’re greedy and opportunistic. But if you have a business or an idea for one, it’s absolutely natural to want to provide a service or product to help people through this dire time. 

This adds to our anxiety because now we have to battle two things: coming up with an idea and putting it to market on time for it to be relevant. That’s no Bueno. This makes us paralyzed because we get overwhelmed. We’re already giving up before starting, hence the line of thought “I’m too late…”.

The antidote

Before you do anything else, replace the “I’m too late” thought with the question “What can I do right now?”

There might not be a lot, which is ok, especially if you’re at the beginning. Focus on the one small thing you can do right now. If you have a business in beauty or an online lifestyle blog, and you have an idea to help the healthcare workers by designing motivational bar soaps. Then draw a wireframe (a design) for the types of soaps you want to offer, with their names and looks. 

In essence, think about creating your brand. Hey, I kind of like that idea! If you start thinking about all the companies you’ll be competing against, you’re toast. If you start thinking about your time to market, you’re doomed. 

Take it one step at a time and build it up. Maybe you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the bathroom creating these soaps at first, but that’s where the magic begins. And maybe you’re only going to be ready once the world is out and about again, but who’s to say they won’t be needed then? 

To give you another example, a personal one. I know that Social Anxiety can get worse during social distancing because we’re not out there practising our skills. So creating a course that prevents this from happening is relevant. 

That’s something I can do right now. If it just so happens that it takes me too long to build it and the world is out and about, I can then re-strategize on the content and use it differently. I’ll worry about that when the time comes, instead of now. All I need to worry about at this moment is “what can I do right now?” regardless of what the eventual outcome is.

Doubt #2

Who’s going to want to hear from me? People tune in to who they know

This is slightly related to the first doubt, but it goes much deeper. This is pure negative self-talk that leads to more destructive thoughts. If you believe you’re not worth it, then you’re definitely not going to move ahead with any idea you have. You’re going to be stuck in your own mind believing things that are most likely not true. 

Everyone has a unique story to share and one that others can benefit from. It doesn’t matter if there are a million and one blogs out there about being an introvert. Your version of being one is different than all those other ones. 

I know I tend to think this way when I see that I only have x number of followers, or I write a great post that gets no traction. I won’t lie, it’s disheartening. But just because people are not finding me doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear from me. Those are two separate things. 

Now that people have more time on their hands, they’re out there looking for new content and new people to follow. It’s the perfect time to show your face to the world.

The antidote

At the end of the day, you have to believe there’s room for everybody, you know why? 

  1. The internet is so vast and ginormous that there’s no way everyone knows all that’s out there. For example, I recently found 3 new introvert websites that I never knew existed and I’ve been in this space for two years! Your audience might only find your website and no one else’s, so they’ll definitely want to hear what you have to say. 
  2. Your personality is just what’s the doctor prescribed. Think about all the YouTubers out there making a living in the same space. I can watch 10 makeup vloggers and only like one or two. That’s because we’re attracted to some personalities and not to others. It’s absolutely normal. Some people won’t like how you communicate or your perspective on a topic. But other people will be mesmerized and want more. As I like to say “there’s someone out there for every product”. 

These are the two main thoughts you need to hold onto the next time you think that no one wants to hear from you. That’s simply not true. What might be true is that you’re having a hard time finding the right marketing strategy to reach the people you need. The good thing about that is that it’s a skill you can learn and then test over and over.

Doubt #3

This is the worst time to start something new, everything is so uncertain

I don’t have a crystal ball so I won’t pretend I know what kind of time we’re in. But what I do know is that there’s never a right time to have a baby. Wait, what? Yeah, starting a new project or a new business is like having a baby. It’s absolutely terrifying, and I should know because I’m 28 weeks pregnant. What started off as “this is so exciting, having a baby in the year 2020!” has turned into “my baby is going to be born during a pandemic…”

None of us know how this is going to unfold. Some businesses are currently thriving, while some are declaring bankruptcy. Unfortunately, that’s the case during ANY time, not just a pandemic. It just depends on what your product/service is, what your story is and how it ties in with where the current market is at. If you take the thought “it’s always uncertain” at face value, then you’re going to be much more likely to take the jump.

The antidote

Ask yourself what scares you the most:

  • Is it that your finances are going to be impacted if you put some extra money in a new product/service? 
  • What if you end up profiting from this new product/service? 
  • Or maybe you’re scared that you’re going to waste time making something no one wants? 

You can mitigate this by doing some extensive research into the target market, the keyword searches being performed, and the health of the overall industry you’d find yourself in. Don’t get bogged down into what this looks like during an abnormal time like now. Analyze future prospects while also keeping historical data in mind. This is very similar to the first doubt of feeling like you’re too late.

What to do next

All three of these doubts are interconnected with an underlying pattern to them. They exist for the sole purpose to make you believe that it’s futile to put yourself out there because failure is imminent. 

You’re trying to protect yourself from a future that might not come to pass. 

It’s something we, as introverts, are experts at doing. I’m not going to preach the idea of ‘positiveness’ because my personality isn’t wired that way. So instead, I’m going to preach the idea of ‘tabula rasa’. Blank slate. It’s hard to let go of the negative thoughts, and come up with positive ones, but it’s much easier to simply empty your mind as much as you can.

The moment a thought comes in (that has nothing to do with your task at hand), push it away. Every single time. This will give you the space you need to move forward.

Whenever I allow my mind to not think, I’m able to create. Because I don’t get in my own way.

If you find that you can’t get rid of these doubts or any other ones that you have, try writing them down as I just did in this post. Or express them to someone. In fact, you’re more than welcome to either reach out to me or to Gina, to let us know what your doubts are. The simple act of letting them out into the world can work wonders.