We repeatedly mention on this site how easy it is to start your own WordPress business (at least I do). The WordPress platform is free, user-friendly, easy to learn, and offers many different business opportunities. It seems like all you need to do is get started.
So why doesn’t everybody? I mean, there is a staggering number of people who play with the idea to start their own online business for years but never pull the trigger.
In addition to that, of those who do make the leap, many fail. According to some statistics, 90 percent of Internet business startups fold within the first 120 days. Ninety Percent!
So, it seems like not actually everybody can do it. Why is that?
Well, surprisingly most often the thing that gets in the way of any business venture is the person who wants to start it. Fear, self-sabotage, and other mental barriers kill fledgling companies just as quickly as lack of funding.
Since we don’t have any venture capital lying around, we thought we’d concentrate on the former. In the following article, we will look at some of the most common mental barriers that would-be entrepreneurs, startups, and business owners face and provide you with advice on how to overcome them.
Please lie down on our virtual couch and let’s talk. How are you feeling?
Are Your Struggling With These Mental Barriers In Your WordPress Business?
If your fledgling WordPress business has you waking up sweat soaked at night or just the thought of striking out on your own is making your heart race, you are not alone. Every freelancer, entrepreneur, and small business owner has to deal with this kind of thing to some degree.
Thankfully, below we will talk about some common psychological hurdles in business and how to overcome them.
Fear Of Failure
Let’s start with a classic. Fear of failure is one of the most common reasons businesses never get started and would-be founders never make the leap.
That pesky voice in your head that whispers you aren’t capable enough and that things are not going to work out anyway can grind down even the most idealistic entrepreneur.
“You will just waste your time and money. You will lose face and become the laughing stock of everyone!” – That stuff can be quite persuasive.
Failure isn’t fun and nobody likes it. It makes us feel bad about ourselves and the prospect of falling on our nose in front of others can be very unnerving. The fear of doing so keeps us from founding that business venture, starting that blog, or building that website we were thinking about.
Life dreams forever unfulfilled, what a bummer!
How To Tackle It:
As a first step in overcoming the fear of failure you have to accept that you will never do everything right. Failure is an inevitable part of life, at least any life with some fun and excitement in it.
In fact, for most people, life is not a chain of successes but a series of failures interspersed with occasional wins. For that reason, the only way to deal with failure is to embrace it. Here’s how to do it:
- Reframe failure as part of growth — Failure is a great teacher and you usually learn more from mistakes than from successes. Failure forces us to have a good look at what went wrong so we can do better next time around. It points out what we still need to learn and where we need to innovate. In fact, the entire lean startup approach, which has built some of the most successful companies in recent years, is based on failing early and failing often.
- Try to fail as much as possible — Fear of failure can be mitigated like any other fear: through confrontation. The more you fail and realize that you can survive it, the less failure will be something to dread. There is actually a cool method called rejection therapy that forces people to go out and try to get rejected by another person at least once per day (here is a TED talk on the matter). It not only makes people more resilient to rejection, but many of them also accomplish things they never thought possible in the process. Highly recommended!
- Realize that regret weighs heavier than mistakes — At the end of their lives, most people regret much more the things they didn’t do than the mistakes they made. If you look back on your own life, are you pained more by what you failed at or the things you wished you had given a try? If it’s the latter, now is the time to invest in having fewer regrets in the future.
- Be kind to yourself — Another reason many of us fear failure is because we tend to be overly harsh with ourselves once we do fail. We call ourselves losers, good-for-nothings, or worse. If that is the case for you, it’s time to figure out how you can be more friendly to yourself.
Here’s also what Michael Jordan, who is widely considered to be one of the best if not the best basketball players of all times, had to say on the topic:
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Thinking You Need to Know “Everything” To Get Started
Another thing that holds a lot of people back from starting their own WordPress business is the feeling that they don’t know enough to be useful to anyone yet. They think they need to be experts before they can charge money for their knowledge.
How can you call yourself a developer unless you can recite the entire library of WordPress functions in your sleep? Or think of yourself as a blogger before you have had your first viral article? Can you charge money for web design if you don’t know all Photoshop keyboard shortcuts?
It’s thinking like this that keeps freelancers from making their first client call and entrepreneurs from raising their prices.
How To Tackle It:
This mental barrier is, of course, bogus. Even if you are a developer with years of experience, there will always be more information, more things to learn. Knowledge is an endless pit and in an area advancing as quickly as the web, nobody ever knows everything.
So how much do you need to know before you can charge someone for your services? More than the person you are charging. That’s it.
If you have knowledge that can solve your client’s problem, why shouldn’t they pay you for it? After all, that’s how plumbers, electricians, and other small business owners in the real world make their money, isn’t it? So why should it be any different online?
What’s more, most of the time the willingness to figure things out along the way is much more important than having all the answers from the beginning. If you are willing to put in the time and energy to learn what you need to know in order to do the work, you are in a much better position than someone who is waiting until they are “ready.”
I certainly have accepted jobs that included things I wasn’t too sure about. However, because I was willing to learn en route, I could still get paid for them.
Do you ever tell yourself that you are not good enough? Ever feel like a fraud? Like you are not qualified enough for the work you are doing? That any second now someone will find out and you will be fired?
Congratulations, you have Impostor Syndrome!
Impostor Syndrome is the tendency to disregard your skills, capabilities, and accomplishments. To think that every success is due to luck, timing, or tricking others into thinking you are more qualified than you actually are. That everyone else is more qualified than you.
This type of thinking is especially present in high achievers and very pervasive in the WordPress sphere as many of us are self-taught and have no formal credentials to speak of.
In her talk on the very topic at WordCamp Europe 2016, Sonja Leix found 10 out of the 12 leading figures in the community she asked to show signs of Impostor Syndrome. Mind you, these are core contributors, people working at Automattic, and other people you likely look up to.
Why does it matter? Because Impostor Syndrome can lead to anxiety, worry, depression, inner struggle, and other uncool things. Time to get over it, don’t you think?
How To Tackle It:
Here are the things that Sonja said helped her overcome her Impostor Syndrome:
- Find community — Many of us work from home where we are isolated and can only compare ourselves against our own standards. To combat this, find others who are in the same boat and struggling with the same things. It will normalize your problems. The WordPress community is especially welcoming, so you can start with your local meetup.
- Public speaking — Teaching others can be liberating and will provide you with valuable feedback from actual people instead of your own subjective judgment. It also forces you to confront the fears in your head with reality.
- Contribute — Contributing to WordPress helped Sonja receive more positive feedback, use her skills, and made her feel valued. Contributor days at WordCamps are a great way to get started and get in touch with others from the community.
Since I am also familiar with Imposter Syndrome, I wanted to give my personal note as well. The best cure I have found for subjective feelings of inadequacy is objective data and feedback.
For example, website analytics can be very helpful because they show you how many people are reading your stuff. It also helps to write down your accomplishments, successes, and the positive feedback you receive in a text file and whip them out when you feel less than stellar. Seeing one of your own articles on the first page of Google also helps.
Aside from that, I recommend this excellent article.
Thinking You Need To Do Everything Yourself
Don’t we all want to be the renegade? The one who did it all by herself? The self-made millionaire who pulled herself up by her own shoestrings?
Sure, it’s absolutely possible to run every aspect of your WordPress business single-handedly. After all, you are a smart, driven personality, otherwise, you’d likely not be reading this article.
However, there is a time in business when doing so becomes a hindrance and turns you from the catalyst to the bottleneck of your business. Your time and energy is limited and at some point your overcommitment will keep you from growing, taking on more clients, and increasing your revenue.
That’s when it’s time to act.
How To Tackle It:
When things become overwhelming, the first step is to prioritize. Take a good look at how you spend your energy and make sure it is on things that really matter.
To-do lists can be endless and not everything on them really deserves its spot or is really that important. Eliminate as much as you can until only the chosen few tasks that absolutely have to be done are left.
As a second step, start asking for help. There is absolutely no shame in getting support from people who know more than you. Most people are even happy to lend a helping hand!
For example, in one of my first websites I was struggling with the design. I was already overwhelmed with figuring out how to use WordPress, and had no idea how to create a coherent website.
Things changed rapidly when a graphic design friend of mine whipped one up for me in about an hour. All of a sudden, all I had to do was implement it, which easily cut down the time I spent on the site by several days and reduced my stress level considerably.
The WordPress forums are a good place to start if you need help.
As a third step, delegate. As soon as you can afford it, hire people who can do parts of the work better or faster than you. This leaves you free to concentrate on those things that only you can do and that will grow your business and revenue.
Gosh, this is a big one for me and an easy trap to fall into for many entrepreneurs and creative types. It also often goes hand in hand with Impostor Syndrome.
Perfectionism is a bastard who tells you that nothing is ever good enough. That there is always something you could have done better. That your work never measures up.
Perfectionists tend to set impossible-to-achieve standards for themselves and their work and think in terms of all-or-nothing. Everything needs to be 110 percent before it can see the light of day and it is either brilliant or crap.
Being perfectionistic is a one-way ticket to stress, loss of creativity, and one of the biggest drivers of procrastination. When everything needs to be perfect, every project or business seems to big a task to take on.
How To Tackle It:
Perfectionism is a fickle beast and tough mental barrier to overcome. However, here are a few ways to address it:
- Define scope and success — Define what success looks like beforehand. Write a detailed description, then prioritize only the core essentials and absolute must-haves. Applying the 80/20 rule can help. This way you can come back to your overall goal when perfectionism takes over and you get lost in little details.
- Concentrate on what you’ve done over what is perfect — With your scope in mind, set a deadline and make sure you keep it. Stay true to your defined vision. Shipping is more important than adding every single feature you can come up with. Make notes of ideas for improvements that come up during the process. You can always add them in later stages.
- Focus on process over result — Perfectionism is most often focused on the achievement of the end goal and doesn’t consider the process of getting there. Instead of trying to have all things perfect now, concentrate on getting better over time.
- Ask “what is working and what isn’t?” — As mentioned, perfectionists tend to think of things in black and white. Either it’s perfect or it’s unworthy. Asking the question “what is good and what isn’t” breaks up that perspective and helps you look at your business, project, or website more objectively.
Aside from the above, I also recommend this three-part series on perfectionism and how to overcome it.
Lack Of Structure And Priorities
There’s something exhilarating about being your own boss. Nobody can tell you when to be where. You finally have full control over your life.
However, the lack of 9 to 5 also has its downsides, most prominently the lack of a daily structure. Freelancers often find themselves working erratic hours, including late nights and weekends, and blending together their personal and professional life.
The same goes for priorities. If nobody tells you what to do, deciding what is really important and what to spend energy on becomes your own job. In many cases this results in lots of hesitation, procrastination, and energy spent on the wrong things.
How To Tackle It:
Firstly, when running your own business, you need to design your own work day. This can start as simply as figuring out whether you are an early bird or a night owl and when you do your best work.
For example, I do my best work early in the day. Writing, editing, and other text-based work is best left to the morning.
However, around the middle of the day, that part of my brain is exhausted and needs a rest. Therefore, the second part of the day is much more suitable for web design and other things that don’t require verbal thinking and where I can even play a movie in the background.
The next tip is that you really need to be be your own boss. If you don’t tell yourself what to do, nobody will.
A good start for that is to set yourself one to three important tasks per day. These should be things that can really make a difference in your work and personal life. Work on those first and make sure you complete them, everything else can usually wait.
For more advice, have a look at our productivity tips for WordPress bloggers.
Not Taking Care Of Yourself
Building and running a business takes hard work, no doubt about it. However, there is a difference between working hard and burning yourself out.
Many think that in order to make your business a success, you need to work all the time and that you can only rest once you are rich and famous.
While that works for a little while, sooner or later it will catch up with on you and you will start lacking energy, creativity, and concentration. You may even experience depression or anxiety.
It’s important to make it a priority to address this mental trap.
How To Tackle It:
You are the most important asset for the success of your WordPress business. For that reason, make sure you take care of your health and well being.
- Respect your needs as a human being — There are certain basic needs that we have as humans. Food, water, and sleep are high on the list but also social contact and play. Make sure you give yourself what you need or you will pay the price. Investing in your own well being is a direct investment into your business.
- Schedule downtime — As entrepreneurs and freelancers we could be working all the time. It’s necessary to make downtime part of the planning process. Setting rigid working hours helps, scheduling plans for the weekend in advance does, too. And for God’s sake, see other people every now and then!
- Take the long view — Building a successful business takes time. Very few overnight successes actually happen over night. Most take years of dedication and hard work. Allow yourself the necessary time to learn, improve, and build something you will be fully proud of.
Which Mental Barriers Do You Struggle With?
One of the biggest obstacles to building and running an online business is often not acquiring the necessary skills but overcoming mental hangups that keep you from doing so. Self-sabotage and psychological hurdles more often keep people from being successful in business than lack of vision or capabilities.
We have talked about some of the most common mental barriers people encounter when they try to start a WordPress business. Fear of failure, Impostor Syndrome, perfectionism, and lack of priorities are just a few of them and you will likely encounter more on the way.
That’s fine. It comes with the territory. However, it doesn’t mean you have to let these obstacles keep you from making your WordPress business a success. Take it one step at a time, be patient with yourself, and slowly work your way to forward. When you do that, there is very little that you can’t tackle.
Which mental barriers have you encountered trying to build your own business or project? How did you deal with them? Let us know in the comment section below!