Self Doubt, Depression and the Unexpected Entrepreneur

Self doubt.

It’s such a powerful thing, isn’t it?

I don’t know if there’s anybody out there who hasn’t experienced a little self doubt before but I know it is something I find myself fighting all the time. It’s not so much because I’m not a confident person. Or because I don’t have any real talent or aptitude for what I do. It’s more a scar of my battle with depression.

{As those of you who have been following my blog will know, I have battled on and off with depression since 2007. I have been brutally honest about this as I am passionate about ending the stigma on mental health that makes some feel that they cannot be truthful about how they are really feeling. If you want to know more about my journey with depression you can read about it here.}

So how does this relate to business?

Lately, I have been feeling a bit of self doubt. Sales have been a bit slow (as is usual at this time of year) and I seem to be waiting interminably for my next market in March. After all the busyness of the Christmas/New year period it’s all feeling a little slow. So those niggly thoughts start coming in…

“I’m not selling anything. Maybe it’s because people no longer like what I do”

“If this keeps going I won’t have any income left to continue with my business”

“I know lots of small businesses fail early on…will mine be part of that statistic?”

“Is it worth spending the money and taking the time to apply for Trademark?”

“Other businesses look like they’re selling well…why aren’t I?”

“I feel so guilty taking time to work on my business when I should be cleaning the house/folding washing/spending better quality time with the kids/etc.”

And so it continues.

Now, despite all the cognitive behaviour therapy I have done, negative self-talk and thoughts still blow through my mind like a whirlwind sometimes, making a big mess of calm and confidence and leaving a big pile of rubbish to sort through. I KNOW in my head what is happening and I KNOW it is not good, but I sometimes feel like I’m standing there helpless as I watch my thoughts get all muddied.

So, in my state of ‘blergh’ I signed up to do an online milestones workshop with Get It Done Mum and Build A Little Biz (two excellent resources if you are a small biz owner!). The big selling point was that they promised to “overcome the overwhelm”…just what I needed!

I scrounged together the time to access the meeting online in between juggling my two young children and threw myself into the exercises wholeheartedly.

What a breath of fresh air through my mind!

Through doing this workshop I found the clarity to discover what I really want (and need) from my business as well as from my personal life and set milestones and strategies to achieve this newfound vision.

Then, last night as I was talking with my husband about the workshop and how I’m feeling about business and all the rest, and I realised that the self doubt I had been feeling was because I didn’t set out to start a business, it just grew organically from a hobby. It’s this fact that has meant that I still have a mental barrier to considering myself as a true and proper “entrepreneur” (or “mumpreneur” if you prefer that term). I don’t yet recognise it subconsciously as a real job. It is the first time I haven’t had a clear job title or written list of responsibilities pertaining to my job, and it’s affecting how I see myself and how I value what I do. When I fill out a form I stumble upon what to write in the occupation part. It used to be so clear-cut and easy – “preschool teacher” fitted nicely and people knew what it meant. Now I find I fall back on “stay at home mum” because it’s too hard to come up with a title for what I do.

Maybe it’s also because there doesn’t seem to be as much social recognition of small home-based business. Yes, there’s the whole “mumpreneur” movement thing but some part of me thinks that it’s not taken as seriously as it should be. This perception could be because I keep having conversations like this with new people I meet:

Them: So what do you do?

Me: Oh, I’m at home with my kids….oh and I have a small business.

Them: Oh really? What do you do?

Me: I make jewellery.

Them: Oh.

Silence. End of conversation.

Is this just me? Is there a better way I can describe myself? Am I “good enough” to say that I am a “jewellery designer”? Will this make people more interested or value what I now do?

And see, there’s that self doubt again. Sneaky, isn’t it?

So I suppose the moral of this story is that I need to take myself seriously. I need to invest (time and…wait for it…money) in myself and in my business. I need to focus on my passion. I need to value what I do.

When I do this, self doubt disappears. The thought patterns of my depression-scarred mind can be changed. I can be proud of what I do.

So I have this manifesto from Build A Little Biz stuck up right in front of me at my desk and I am going to read it every day (or several times a day if I need to!) and I am going to keep marching on…

Thanks to Build a Little Biz

Thanks to Build a Little Biz