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By Tessah Aihara, founder of SEO Mama.

Being an entrepreneur is often a lonely journey. Especially for women. Expected to display strength at all times, to demonstrate your worth as a businessperson and your suitability as a leader, any show of vulnerability is frowned upon. But self-doubt almost always creeps in. You question not only your plans and your actions, but your very validity. And this can have a hugely detrimental impact, on your mental health and well-being, as well as your business, limiting client relationships and stifling growth and potential. As a female business owner, it’s really important that you are able to see the value you bring to your clients and make this a priority for success – but how can you go about this? Are there ways to elevate self-worth? And how can you stop self-doubt from taking hold?

The problem with self-doubt and business potential

We all suffer from self-doubt from time to time, it’s an annoying part of being human. We criticise ourselves – often verbally. Inadvertently using negative self-talk to further undermine our self-esteem. Most of the time, we don’t even know that we’re doing it. But it still has an impact. As humans, most of us naturally focus on the negative. If there’s one bad comment in a list of 10 positives, it’s that destructive remark that will draw our attention. And it will be that which we focus on when we’re trying to sleep that night. And it’s so common that this is unlikely to be anything new to you.

The problem is that if we doubt ourselves, it can be really difficult to instil confidence in our clients. And that’s where your business will start to suffer. Because when clients lose confidence, they inevitably take their business elsewhere. And that will trigger the cycle to start again. So, how can you nip this negativity in the bud before it becomes a problem?

Seven tips for elevating your self-worth and self-belief as a female business owner

Focus on the things you can do – One of the most common failings among entrepreneurs is the belief that we should be able to do everything. Everything. It doesn’t matter if you can pay someone to build your website, write your copy, or manage your analytics for half the price that it would cost [in time] for you to do it. You SHOULD be able to do it. So, you do. And then you do it… If not badly, at least at a lesser standard than the professional you didn’t want to pay on principle. Cue the negative self-talking. By focusing on what you can do well, and delegating what you can’t, you’ll reduce the potential for negativity.

Recognise your success – Being a woman in business can be really tough. Facing those challenges and acknowledging your success is a really big part of improving your self-esteem. And success comes in a range of different guises. You started a business. You found funding. You employed the perfect person for a particular role. You actually remembered to go shopping AND you created a nutritious meal… You think the last is mockery? It’s an achievement that many entrepreneurs never attain.

Choose who you spend your time with – If you’re experiencing doubts, don’t expose yourself to nay-sayers. Some people just can’t help being critical, the negativity comes out without effort. If talking to someone always makes you feel worse about where you are, then avoid them. At least until you’ve got the mental strength to deal with them.

Baby steps – We all start businesses with big ideas and extravagant goals. The problem is that those big goals are often really hard to reach. And it’s those delays that can knock your confidence the most. So, while it’s good to have a grand plan, it’s also important to focus on the shorter term too. And celebrate those small successes as well as the large.

Don’t try to control everything – OK, so it’s your business. You’re the boss. You say what goes. But sometimes you don’t. And that can be a good thing. Not keeping your hand on every single wheel. Not directing every single conversation. Not letting your control-freakery (you’re an entrepreneur, it comes as part and parcel) dominate. All of these things will give you a chance to take a step back and breathe. With distance comes perspective. And with perspective comes balance.

Accept that you’re not perfect – We all make mistakes. Every last one of us. So, don’t judge yourself as if you should be the one and only perfect human being in existence. Once you accept your fallibility, you can start to forgive yourself for the things that didn’t work out, rather than dwelling on them. Confident vulnerability is gaining traction. People value your strengths more when you start to admit that you’re only human. And it can help you to stop being your own biggest critic.

Work with clients who will elevate you – When you first start out in business, you can’t pick and choose your clients. But it doesn’t take long to differentiate between those who appreciate your efforts and those who will never be satisfied. Finding your niche and working out how to attract the right clients to your business is integral to success. But building long-term relationships with clients who appreciate you and will elevate you is integral to your sanity.

Being a female entrepreneur will always bring challenges. Many are unavoidable. But self-doubt can be your biggest barrier to success. Understanding how to deal with it is the first step towards creating a brighter future for yourself and your business.

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