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How to Overcome the Top Psychological Issues that Sabotage Business Owners

01 (339)The most powerful psychological issues that will lead to self-sabotage are fear of failure and fear of success. Both stem from identification with the ego and fear of loss (of money, of reputation, of relationships, of life as you know it.)

The most common psychological issue I hear among consultants, entrepreneurs and small business owners is feeling fraudulent.  When I first started my business, it felt fake.  It almost felt like a joke to give myself a title at a “company” that I made up. Now, I am shocked when I meet people who have heard of my business before meeting me.  It feels surreal.

Both of these are normal phenomenons that stem from a crisis of self-esteem.  There is a psychological conflict between how you present externally (as an “expert”) and how you feel internally.  There is a fear that you will be discovered as a fraud and will fail.  There is another fear that people will take you seriously and you will have to live up to expectations, which can feel like a tremendous amount of pressure.

To overcome these challenges, I recommend the following: 

  1. Remember, it is completely normal to feel nervous, unsure, overwhelmed and under prepared, especially during the early phases of new business development.  Cut yourself some slack and remind yourself not to compare your insides to other people’s outsides (one of the many benefits of being a therapist is that I have seen that we all struggle with these issues, even people who appear very confident.)
  2. Don’t undervalue your strengths.  What you know might not seem like rocket science to you (unless you are a rocket scientist…), but to others is valuable information.  Don’t underprice your services—people value that for which they pay.
  3. Be mindful of any negative or fear-based thinking and nip it in the bud.  Consider a cognitive-behavioral therapy workbook to restructure negative and irrational thought patterns and replace them with positive affirmations or mantras.
  4. Practice meditation or other mindfulness techniques that will help you align with your highest self and life mission and detach from fear.
  5. Get support.
  • Have a mentor who can offer you support along the way.  If you don’t have one, join your professional association, become involved and seek one.  Consider paying somebody you admire as a consultant.
  • Create or join a group of small business owners to meet on a regular basis and discuss challenges and share resources.  This can be an enormously normalizing and validating experience as you will see that others struggle with similar issues.
  • Consider therapy or coaching to help you keep your head in the game and your thinking positive.

Remember the words of Marianne Williamson, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.”

Dig deep.  Believe in yourself.  Forge ahead.  

What other psychological issues do you think affect small business owners?

Image: Creative Commons License Victor1558 via Compfight

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How to Overcome the Top Psychological Issues that Sabotage Business Owners

Joyce Marter, LCPC

Joyce Marter, LCPC is the Founder of Urban Balance and public speaker. You may find her at her personal website here, or you may follow her on Twitter.

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APA Reference
Marter, J. (2013). How to Overcome the Top Psychological Issues that Sabotage Business Owners. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 6, 2020, from


Last updated: 19 Aug 2013
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