On September 30, 2022
Published in original from the desk of Jacob Hartmann, President of Hartmann Industries.
At no other time in human history has society, technology, and business grown as such an exponential rate. Along with this growth has come a newfound sense of self-awareness and importance of mindset and appearance. Whether you’re a small business owner or a corporate CEO, these two things are now more important than ever before.
However, with this newfound importance comes a great deal of pressure. Many small business owners lack the self-confidence and pride in their work necessary to put their best foot forward and succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. This is a problem that must be addressed if small businesses are to survive and thrive.
The following essay will explore the reasons why small business owners lack self-confidence and pride, and offer solutions on how to overcome these obstacles. This is not a typical blog, as I will also be providing anonymized real-world examples from my own consulting experience to illustrate the points made.
Reasons Why Small Business Owners Lack Self-Confidence & Pride
Before we can address the lack of self-confidence and pride in small business owners, we must first understand the root causes of failure and work from there.
There are many reasons why small business owners might lack self-confidence and pride in their work. Some of these reasons include:
They don’t believe in themselves.
One of the biggest reasons why small business owners lack self-confidence and pride is because they simply don’t believe in themselves. They don’t think they’re good enough, smart enough, or talented enough to succeed. This is commonly referred to as Imposer Syndrome.
Imposer Syndrome is a very real phenomenon that can hold small business owners back in a big way. If you don’t believe in yourself, it’s very difficult to convince others to believe in you. Your customers, your employees, and your partners are all looking to you for leadership and guidance. If you don’t believe in yourself, they’re not going to believe in you either.
Defining self-confidence, on the other hand, is a bit more difficult. Everyone has a different definition of self-confidence, and what works for one person may not work for another. However, there are some general characteristics that tend to be common among people with high self-confidence.
People with high self-confidence tend to be very positive and optimistic. They believe in themselves and their abilities, and they’re always looking for ways to improve. They’re also very resilient; they don’t give up easily, and they’re always willing to learn from their mistakes.
If you want to build self-confidence and pride in your small business, start by taking a good, hard look at yourself. Are you positive and optimistic? Do you believe in your abilities? Are you always looking for ways to improve? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, it’s time to start working on your self-confidence.
They’re afraid of failure.
Another reason why small business owners might lack self-confidence is because they’re afraid of failure. They’re afraid of taking risks, and they’re afraid of what other people might think if they fail. Society would not be where it is today without risk-takers and their subsequent failures, so don’t be afraid to take a few risks yourself.
Of course, it’s important to understand that not all risks are created equal. You shouldn’t go out and start a business without any planning or research just because you’re afraid of failing. But you should be willing to take calculated risks that have the potential to pay off big time.
As for defining failure, that’s entirely up to you. Just remember that even the most successful people have failed at something at some point in their lives. The key is to learn from your failures and use them as motivation to succeed in the future.
They’re not passionate about their work.
Many small business owners lack self-confidence and pride because they’re not passionate about their work. They don’t believe in what they’re doing, and they’re not excited about it. This is by far the worst reason to lack self-confidence, because it means you’re not really committed to your business.
If you’re not passionate about your work, you’re not going to be very successful. Your customers can tell when you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, and they’re not going to want to do business with you.
As unpopular as this opinion may be, the current trend of social media influencers endorsing “entrepreneurship” is partially to blame for the lack of self-confidence and pride in small business owners.
For some reason, it has become fashionable to be an entrepreneur. Everyone wants to be their own boss, and everyone wants to start their own business. The problem is that most people have no idea what it actually takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Starting a business is hard work. It takes a lot of dedication, a lot of passion, and a lot of money. Most people who start businesses fail, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is starting a business and then expecting overnight success.
If you’re not willing to put in the hard work, you’re not going to be successful. And if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you’re not going to be successful.
That is not to say that “entrepreneurship” is a bad thing. Starting your own business can be an incredibly rewarding experience. But it’s important to understand that it’s not for everyone.
They’re not prepared.
Many small business owners also lack self-confidence and pride because they’re not prepared. They haven’t put in the work, they don’t know what they’re doing, and they’re not ready for the challenges they’ll face.
Nobody is guaranteed success just because they start a business. You have to be prepared for the challenges you’ll face, and you have to be willing to put in the work. If you’re not prepared, you’re not going to be successful.
Your level of preparedness is usually tied to your personality type. Using the DiSC personality test, a “high C” personality will likely have a higher level of formal preparedness than a “high D” personality.
This is because “high C” personalities tend to be more detail-oriented and risk-averse. They’re more likely to take the time to plan and prepare for the challenges they’ll face. The trade-off is that “high C” types tend to overplan – writing 200 page business plans before they make their first sale. These types also usually have mindset issues with delegating and trusting others, which strangles growth.
On the other hand, “high D” personalities tend to be more impulsive and risk-taking. They’re more likely to jump into a business without planning or preparing. To play devil’s advocate, a common misconception is that you need to have your plans in writing – that’s false. Sometimes people with “high D” personalities will have an idea for a business and they’ll just start executing on it without writing anything down. This can work if you have a lot of experience in the industry, but it’s not a good strategy for someone who’s starting their first business in an unknown industry.
With all of this in mind, does it mean that starting a business is impossible? Absolutely not. But it does mean that you need to have a certain level of self-confidence and pride in order to be successful.
If you don’t believe in yourself, if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, and if you’re not prepared, you’re not going to be successful. It’s as simple as that.
How We Got To This Point
For the past few decades, the media has been filled with stories of “rags to riches” entrepreneurs. We’ve all heard stories of people who started with nothing and ended up becoming billionaires. These stories are inspiring, but they’re also very rare.
The problem is that these stories create unrealistic expectations. Most people who start businesses don’t become overnight successes. In fact, most businesses take years to become successful. And even then, they’re not always successful. This is something that the media rarely talks about. Instead, they focus on the “rags to riches” stories, which gives people false hope.
As a result, many people start businesses without understanding what it actually takes to be successful. They think that all they need is a great idea, and then they’ll be on their way to becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg.
The Tale of The Startup versus Enterprise
As a consultant, I have had the pleasure of working with fast-moving startups that went from $0 to $1M ARR within a quarter, to large multinationals that took years to get there.
One of the things that I have seen time and time again is that the successful startups have one thing in common: they are led by visionary individuals who have a growth mindset. They are they type of person that is not inspired by these so-called influencers to start their business; instead, they started their business because they had an idea that they were passionate about and they were willing to put in the hard work to make it a success.
The successful startups are also led by individuals who are not afraid to take risks. They are willing to put everything on the line in order to achieve their goals.
Practically speaking, this means that they are willing to invest their own money into their business, even if it means going into debt. They are also willing to work long hours, often for little or no pay, in order to get their business off the ground. The successful startups are also led by individuals who are not afraid to fail. They know that failure is a part of the journey to success, and they are willing to learn from their mistakes.
In contrast, the unsuccessful startups are often led by individuals who are risk-averse. They are unwilling to invest their own money into their business, and they are not willing to work long hours. They are also not willing to accept failure as a part of the journey. The unsuccessful startups are also led by individuals who have a fixed mindset. They believe that their intelligence and talents are static, and they are not willing to put in the hard work to improve their skills.
If you are the type of business owner that looks at a complex problem and chooses to ignore it versus delegating its resolution or jumping in with both feet to solve it, you are going to have a major issue growing.
The Taboo of Being Honest in Small Business
Far too often, people are afraid of hearing the truth. They want to be told that their business is going to be successful, even if it’s not. They want to hear that their idea is amazing, even if it’s not.
The problem is that this type of thinking is dangerous. It leads people to make bad decisions, and it prevents them from learning and growing. As a consultant, my duty is to be honest with my clients, even if it means telling them things that they don’t want to hear.
The reality is that most businesses fail. This is something that the influencers do not talk about, because it’s not sexy or exciting. But it’s the truth. According to Forbes, “Eight out of ten businesses fail within the first eighteen months.” This is a staggering statistic, and it’s one that you need to be aware of.
Society has unfortunately deemed honesty as taboo. We are afraid to be honest with ourselves, and we are afraid to be honest with others. We would rather live in a world of lies, because it’s easier than facing the truth. Telling someone the hard truth is now considered rude – it’s seen as a personal attack. Cancel culture has only made this worse. The next time you watch a Youtube Short or TikTok of someone selling you “entrepreneurship” or “the dream life,” look at their comments. Anyone who disagrees with them or points out the flaws in their logic is immediately attacked and labeled as “hateful” or “toxic.”
But the truth is, honesty is not rude or “toxic”. In fact, honesty is one of the most important things that you can give to someone. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, because it allows the recipient to learn and grow.
If you’re a small business owner, I urge you to be honest with yourself. Take a long, hard look at your business, and ask yourself if it’s really going to be successful. If the answer is no, then it’s time to make some changes. Don’t be afraid to face the truth, because it will only make you stronger.
Emerging Economies, Outsourcing, and Shifting Blame
I have seen an exceptional amount of blame shifting from small business owners and large enterprises. The overutilization of the word “outsourcing” has become a replacement for taking responsibility.
In today’s business climate, it’s not uncommon to hear statements like “we outsourced our customer service to India” or “we outsourced our manufacturing to China.” This type of thinking is dangerous, because it leads to a false sense of security.
Outsourcing is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be a very good thing. It can help businesses save money, and it can help them focus on their core competencies. But outsourcing is not a cure-all. It’s not a magic bullet that will fix all of your problems. The truth is, outsourcing done wrong can often create more problems than it solves. This is because it’s often done without a clear understanding of what’s being outsourced, and without a clear plan for how it will be done.
Outsourcing is often seen as a way to avoid taking responsibility. Businesses will outsource their customer service to India, and then they will blame the Indian call center when customers are unhappy. They will outsource their manufacturing to China, and then they will blame the Chinese factory when products are defective.
This type of thinking is dangerous, because it leads to a cycle of blame. Businesses will outsource their problems, and then they will blame the people that they outsourced to when things go wrong. This is not only unfair, but it’s also counterproductive.
In relation to the core topic of this essay, it is far easier for a business owner who lacks self-confidence and pride to use outsourcing as a crutch than it is to do the hard work required to build a successful business.
Taking a Step Back
Whether you are a small business owner or a large enterprise, it’s important to take a step back and assess your situation. Are you really doing everything that you can to be successful? Are you being honest with yourself? Are you taking responsibility for your actions?
The answer to these questions is often “no”. We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with messages of instant gratification and overnight success. We are told that we can have everything that we want, without having to put in the hard work.
Asking Yourself: “Do I Really Want To Own a Business?”
There is no magic formula that will improve your self-confidence and help you start taking pride in your business. However, it is worth considering whether you really want to own a business.
The answer to this question is different for everyone. Some people love the challenge of starting and growing a business, while others find it overwhelming and prefer the stability of a traditional job.
If you are unsure about whether you really want to own a business, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have the time to fully commit to a business?
- Do I have the financial resources to invest everything in a business?
- Do I have the knowledge and experience to start and grow a successful business?
- Do I have the mental and emotional strength to handle the stress of owning a business?
- Do I have a support system in place to help me through the ups and downs of owning a business?
If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, then you are probably ready to start a business. However, if you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may want to reconsider whether owning a business is right for you.
Building a Brand 101
By far, the sloppiest business owners I have ever encountered never bothered to build a brand. They never put any thought into what their business represented or how they wanted to be perceived by the public. They’ve appeared on sales calls eating sandwiches and wearing a dirty t-shirt. As a result, their businesses were often indistinguishable from their competitors.
A strong brand is one of the most important assets a business can have. It differentiates you from your competitors and helps you build loyalty among your customers.
If you are unsure of how to build a brand, start by answering the following questions:
- What is the mission of my business?
- What are the core values of my business?
- What are the unique selling points of my business?
- Who is my target customer?
- How do I want my customers to feel when they interact with my business?
Answering these questions will help you develop a clear brand strategy for your business. Brand building is also an exercise in growing your own self-confidence. The more you invest in your brand, the more confident you will feel about your business.
Going All-In On Your Business
The most successful business owners are the ones who are fully committed to their businesses. They are the ones who are constantly thinking about ways to improve their businesses and grow their bottom lines.
If you are not fully committed to your business, it will be difficult to find the motivation to work on it every day. Your business will become a burden instead of a source of joy. I typically avoid consulting for startups where founders are trying to launch some complex product as a “side gig” – it very rarely works out.
To make a commitment to your business, start by setting some goals. What do you want to achieve in the short-term and long-term? Once you have set your goals, develop a plan of action to achieve them.
Be sure to also set aside time every day to work on your business. This may mean getting up an hour earlier or working during your lunch break. Whatever you do, make sure that you are taking action every day to move your business forward.
Unpopular Opinions & Your Next Steps
Tough love time – if any of these resonate with you, it’s time for a change:
- You’re trying to do everything yourself
- You’re not taking responsibility for your actions
- You’re not being honest with yourself
- You’re not taking pride in your business
- You’re not committed to your business
As much as I would love to sell you consulting services, the journey of business success is very much your own. No consultant in the world can snap their fingers and turn your business around. It takes hard work, dedication, and a willingness to confront your fears and ugly truths head on.
Why I Wrote This Essay
I searched far and wide for an article like this, but I couldn’t find anything that really resonated with me. So, I decided to write it myself.
If you found this article helpful, please share it with someone who might need to hear it.