Entrepreneurs are often paralyzed with doubt, with negative thoughts. They have lost belief in themselves. As my friend Jim Bouchard will reveal in his new book, The Sensei Leader.  “Confidence is one of the most attractive characteristics of a leader. Genuine confidence, tempered with humility, will make you an effective person and an effective leader at any level.”

So how do entrepreneurs remain focused and confident in the midst of all these negative thoughts?

Well the world of psychology may have some answers for all entrepreneurs out there, wrecked with fear.

The world of psychology is going through a quiet transformation, as highlighted by the new NPR show – Invisibilia, hosted by Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller. The traditional approach to our thoughts was inspired by of course Mr. Freud. His thesis being that our thoughts matter. They have meaning. As the hosts pointed out, there is tremendous value in understanding where our thoughts come from. However over the last 30 years, a new approach has been displacing the Freudian approach and its called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. This methodology recognizes that we all have Automatic Negative Thoughts! I know all entrepreneurs have them, whether its public speaking, managing their cash flow or winning new business.

CBT takes a radically different approach from Freud. The trick under CBT is to challenge your negative thoughts. Do they have any logic? By challenging them we are often able to dismiss them as irrelevant. But the psychology revolution has tipped even further along this spectrum, to yet another way of thinking called appropriately, Third Wave Therapy or mindfulness therapy. Miranda Morris a Washington DC based therapist explains that she teaches her clients a stripped down form of meditation. In essence she says on the show that you learn where to place your attention. You let negative thoughts float away. This is in essence the current approach taking hold in the world of therapy because of the success it is having with patients.

I think this is really important for entrepreneurs to recognize this latest approach to their doubt, their lack of confidence.  Specifically for small business owners struggling to scale, here are my translated actions for you to diminish that doubt. Don’t let negative thinking paralyze you. Instead learn to place your attention where it can make a difference:

10 Key Actions to Diminish Doubt:

  1. Create human, meaningful video case studies that demonstrate your solution works in each relevant, vertical market.
  2. Build years of great content, month by month, showing you understand the issues that keep prospects awake at night.
  3. Win awards that your industry recognizes.
  4. Recruit exceptional talent.
  5. Treat every single interaction with prospects as gold dust.
  6. Serve first, sell second. Focus on improving prospect’s lives first.
  7. Passionately nail deadlines. Set up reasonable expectations and over-deliver.
  8. Handle staff with a mentoring attitude.
  9. Invest heavily in making new hires a success.
  10. Don’t demonstrate to prospects why you’re better than the competition. Demonstrate why you are a better fit than the competitor to help solve the prospect’s issues.

These actions take time to make an impact, but gradually over time, you will learn to ignore the doubt and embrace the success you deserve.

Thoughts? ian.smith@portfoliopartnership.com