The doubting solopreneur

And why branding is also an exercise in self-belief.

Running a business takes an awful amount of self belief.

You need to believe:

•  in yourself, your skills and your judgement;
•  that your mission is worth all the hard work, late nights and tears;
•  that your clients actually do need you, and that you can do a good job for them;
•  that you will be able to cope with anything that comes your way;
•  that when you don’t know how to do something, you will work it out;
•  that saying no to the wrong type of work, will make space for the right type;
•  that it is all going to be worth it in the end.

But nothing tests your self belief quite like running a business.

Particularly when you are running a small business. And you aren’t just the person that thinks up the ideas, but who executes them as well.

A couple of weeks ago my self belief was tested. I had travelled from Australia to the UK, and failed to factor in the inevitable jet lag and post-holiday blues. I expected too much of myself too fast, and paid the price.

Cue overwhelm, and a sudden desire to stay in bed and watch Netflix rather than go out and pursue my dreams.

The truth is that this isn’t an isolated experience. The fact that I run a business at all, hints at the fact that I am an overachiever. I set myself high standards, and if I fail to meet them it can trigger a downward spiral where I question everything.

“Why am I doing this?”
“Who am I to attempt this?”
“Why should anyone listen to me?”

In the past I have let these questions get me down for days, weeks and even months at a time.

Confessing that on a public forum goes against a lifetime of habit. After all, aren’t I supposed to be portraying myself as a professional – capable and confident at all times?

But we all doubt ourselves sometimes, and those feelings and questions never go away entirely. All we can do is get better at preventing them from taking over our lives and derailing our businesses.

Three things that restored my self belief this time:

1. I have a clear and strong brand behind me.

It sounds terribly wanky to say that when I feel down I go and visit my own website. But I do.

Because both my personal and business websites are things I am proud of. They took a lot of work to create, not because building websites is hard, but because getting to the core of who I am and what I stand for is hard.

I created them so others might better understand who I am, and what I stand for. But when I’m feeling completely down on myself, they are a way to remind myself of who I am and what I’ve accomplished.

And it is not just the ‘good’ bits that help me feel better about myself.

Because on both my websites it is often the very honest and vulnerable stuff that gets the best response. It is when I share my doubts, fears and frustrations that people take the time to actually stop and comment.

They don’t stop and comment to tell me to get my act together. They stop and comment to thank me for sharing. And to tell me that they also share the same doubts, fears and frustrations.

That in itself is extremely liberating. Because it helps me believe that I’m not alone. And that I will get through whatever it is that I am going through.

2. I have built a great team

The only full time employee of the FeelGoodAgency is me. I’m your average solopreneur with a little too much on her plate.

But by having a brand with a clear and compelling purpose, I have actually managed to attract some awesome people who want to be aligned with my cause.

So true story…

In the last few weeks I’ve been working with our copywriter, Laura Robinson, on some new content for the FeelGoodAgency site. And when I started to wig out – doubting whether my original plans and ideas were any good – Laura told me in no uncertain terms to “get my act together”.

She argued that what we were creating was brilliant, and that we had to see it through.

If it wasn’t for her belief in me and our shared purpose, who knows if I would have made any progress this month. Or if I would have spent even more time in indecision and self doubt.

3. I have attracted some freaking awesome clients

There is nothing that fills you with confidence more than having people demonstrate their belief in you with cold hard cash.

There is no hard sell anywhere in the FeelGoodAgency ethos, yet somehow, people keep showing up wanting to work with us.

And from coaches to social entrepreneurs, the clients we are working with at the moment inspire me every day to get out of bed and create something amazing.

Their vision for the world is so compelling; and their efforts to make a difference are so heroic; that there just isn’t any room for my self doubt. I’m there to help them overcome their self-doubt!

Recently, when I had to apologise to a client for sending something over later than promised, her response was…

“I like you even better for knowing you are a normal person.”

Here I was freaking out because I was late, and she thought it was cool.

Seriously. You can’t make that shit up!

So what about you?

Tell me I’m not the only one that wobbles from time to time. Do you ever suffer from self doubt or analysis paralysis? What does it take to get you going again?

Could you do with a brand (and team!) behind you, that reminds you and the world just how amazing you are? If so, let’s have a chat.

Cat Townsend

Cat Townsend

Brand Strategy & Design

With a background in branding and information design, Cat setup The FeelGoodAgency, to help passionate solopreneurs to understand their brand and how to wield it effectively. Oh, and to make the world a better place. It always comes back to changing the world!

2 Comments

  1. Nicci Bonfanti

    Fabulous article Cat. Running your own business alone is one of the toughest things anyone can do and not a lot is said about the strain it puts on us. Thank you for standing up and saying what a lot of us think and (until now) have not prepared to say.

    Reply
  2. Natalie Sisson

    Love seeing your first post on here and what a great one. So proud of you.

    Reply

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