- 16th April 2018
- Posted by: Manolis
Five years into founding my own career consultancy, I’ve now reached a point where I feel reasonably confident about my ability to run a sustainable business. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t wonder whether I’m on the right track. Here are five of the doubts that nag me the most.
1. Am I Progressing Fast Enough?
I launched my business about five years ago, first as a side-gig while I was working as a marketer in the corporate world, and eventually as my full-time job. I decided to give myself one year of runway to see if I could earn a reasonable amount of income.
These days, I try to remind myself that growth, no matter how small or large, is still growth. Instead of unhealthy comparison to others, I also try to set personal, realistic goals each year and ensure I celebrate achieving those goals instead of falling to the trap of constantly moving the goalposts farther, which can be rather demotivating.
2. Am I Credible Enough?
When you leave the comforts of a corporate job behind, you also leave behind the instant credibility you have when working for a well-established brand or business. That association has a funny way of instilling you with a certain degree of confidence in any professional situation, whether giving a big talk, networking with others, or reaching out to potential business partners.
These days, in exchange for the autonomy, independence, and freedom I enjoy having as a business owner, I often feel like have a slightly steeper hill to climb when convincing others of my value or credibility. I sometimes catch myself wondering if people take me as seriously because I no longer have that handy corporate association.
This hurdle is certainly not insurmountable. If anything, I feel like I’ve developed much more confidence in pitching myself. What I’ve found most helpful is to invest time getting clear on my own professional narrative and talking points, then rehearsing that pitch again and again so I can believe in my own story, and in turn, convince others to believe in it too.
3. Did I Leave My Last Job Too Soon?
Figuring out the right moment to leave one job behind is difficult. Whenever I’ve changed jobs, I’ve always felt like I was giving up on potential opportunities coming up around the corner if I had just stayed put. I’ve always had good reasons for moving on in my career, but that doesn’t completely erase the somewhat haunting feeling I sometimes get that I left too soon.
For example, I sometimes wonder if I should have stuck things out just a bit longer in the corporate world to land that next impressive title. Or if I should have ridden the wave of my marketing career to land in some hot startup while was immersed in my industry. Perhaps those incremental opportunities could have served me well as an independent business owner, both in terms of professional experience or perceived credibility.
To this day, I can’t really say I am 100% confident I left my last corporate job at the absolute best time. What I can say is that I left when I felt the situation was optimal enough and when the timing was right enough, which helps me feel at peace with my decisions.
These days, I’m happy to say I now do work I find more rewarding, spend more time with people I love, and live a more balanced life that feels so much healthier. Oddly enough, in some ways, I felt more “successful” when I was working in the corporate world–at least on the surface. I had a good salary, solid job title, and an association with a globally recognized brand.
I know these metrics are somewhat superficial and represent a more traditional way of measuring success. But one reason why these traditional success metrics are the default is that they’re just easier to measure and understand. So even though I feel happier on a day-to-day basis with my current lifestyle and work, I sometimes find myself wondering what it means to be truly successful.
I try to remind myself that success really is multifaceted and personal. As long as I’m living a life that allows me to spend my days doing things I want to do with people I care about, I shouldn’t get too caught up with trying to chase those more traditional signs of success in order to feel successful.
5. When Will I Have My Breakthrough?
I’m a big believer in trying to learn from people and businesses out there who are gaining the kind of traction I aspire to achieve myself. When I started my business, I followed other solopreneurs on social media who launched their own businesses. When I launched my own podcast, I referenced other podcasts as a way of benchmarking my own progress.
On the one hand, seeing people gaining tons of followers or podcasts exponentially expanding their listenership can be inspiring. On the other, when I see others crushing it, I sometimes wonder if and when I’ll have my big breakthrough—you know, that moment when your blog post goes viral, your podcast gets featured in some major publication, or your video gets a million views. Overnight.
With this in mind, as someone who’s spoken to many people who have successfully relaunched their careers and businesses, I’ve learned that overnight successes are extremely rare. More often than not, people only turn a corner after years of hard work chipping away, slowly, steadily, and patiently at the problem they’re trying to solve. I try my best to take that approach with my own work, believing deep down that hard work, grit, and endurance can eventually pay off.
You Have To Believe In Your Journey
Self-doubt is inevitable whenever you’re building your own business. Making progress, gaining credibility, timing your moves, achieving success, and gaining traction are part of a very uncertain journey to create the professional life and career you want for yourself.
Most people I know who have decided to launch off on their own, even those who seem to have it all together on the outside, have had restless nights wrestling with their own self-doubts. I find that strangely comforting.
If you’re dealing with similar doubts, rest assured you’re not alone. The best advice I have is to just do your best to hold yourself to reasonable standards and not beat yourself up too much along the way. Most of all, when you’re feeling these doubts, try to hang in there a little bit longer. Because you just never know how close you are to turning that corner when all your choices will start to make sense.