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Overcoming Self-Doubt as a Business Owner

November 04, 2019 by Sally Pau

We all aspire to have incredible self-confidence especially when it comes to running a business. Though like many things in life, nothing good comes easy. Similar to our mood and energy levels, self-confidence comes in waves that bounce between positive peaks and self-doubt.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s completely normal for people to feel self-doubt, even highly successful business owners. During your journey, you will have no other choice than to rise to the occasion in challenging situations.

Self-doubt is often seen as a negative feeling and lack of confidence in doing what we aspire to do. We think of the voice in our head trying to hold us back from reaching our goals, however, this doesn’t have to be the case. It’s about how you view and use self-doubt as a way to grow.

Having a balance of confidence and doubt can allow us to achieve positive outcomes. Author Alice Boyes, Ph.D., writes in The Healthy Mind Toolkit, “I need both periods of self-confidence and self-doubt to create my best work. Both of these states help me in different ways. Sometimes I need the confidence to crank out work or take charge of a situation.” “On the flip side, sometimes I need self-doubt to propel me to examine where I might have blind spots and to motivate the effort involved in correcting these,” she says.

So yes, healthy self-doubt can give you the extra push in the right direction. When it starts to get in the way of your goals is when it starts to become negative. Learning how to overcome the negative self-doubt and finding a sweet spot will help propel you to achieve your goals.

Building a Strong Mindset

When starting your own business, your mindset is your strongest asset. You will need to let go of the negative thoughts and start believing in yourself. As social beings, we naturally define ourselves through the relationships we have. We often depend upon others for our happiness, security, and safety.

Think of social media and its impact on our self-confidence. We feel good when we receive a fair number of likes, comments, and shares. However, when we don’t meet the level of engagement we hope for, negative self-doubt can start to kick in. This is when we start to give power to other people to tell us who we are.

It’s easy to misinterpret and build the blame without any reason. Building a strong mindset will allow you to stop taking things personally. Instead, you will be able to view criticism from the perspective of growth. How can you take what happened and work towards better results next time?

If you’re in the early stages of starting your beauty business, check out our post about starting a side hustle as a beauty professional. We go over various ways to gain the confidence to prepare for success in the beauty industry.

Avoid Comparison with Others

It’s so easy to compare with the success of others. We tend to look to influencers in the industry and set our goals based on what we see. However, it’s important to keep in mind we only see the tip of the iceberg. This means we only see what they want us to see—the highlights of their lives.

Ethan Kross, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan who studies the impact of social media on our wellbeing says, “envy is taken to an extreme”. “We are constantly bombarded by Photoshopped lives,’’ he says, “and that exerts a toll on us which we have never experienced in the history of our species. And it is not particularly pleasant.”

Don’t let social media fool you. Social media has created an outlet for egotistical behavior, where self-worth is determined by the number of likes one gets. Users usually only capture picture-perfect moments while ignoring the chaos of real-life moments.

Instead, focus on you and your beauty business. Success is not what is painted on social media or dependant on the number of likes your posts get. It takes a lot of hard work to be successful, which explains why you may be struggling right now.

Track Your Progress

Set goals for yourself and track the process along the way. Whether you’re a new business owner or a well-seasoned one, it’s important to have goals to keep yourself on track. What are you trying to achieve for your business?

To reach your goals, your progress needs to be consistently tracked and reviewed. Break down the goal into actionable steps and set deadlines for each one. This will allow you to break down a bigger goal to avoid being overwhelmed by all the tasks that need to be completed.

For example, let’s say you want to bring in 20 new clients this month. Think about what you will need to achieve your goal. Your actionable steps will probably include:

Each completed step will bring you closer to achieving those 20 new clients. Once you reach your goal, start creating new ones to work towards. With each one, you should progressively make them harder to grow your beauty business larger.

Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Starting your own beauty business is not an easy task. You’re one of the few working up the courage to fulfill your passion. As a business owner, you will need to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Permanent Makeup and Lash Lift Artist, Winnie Luu

Permanent Makeup and Lash Lift Artist, Winnie Luu

Many business owners will feel discomfort when they first start. This is exactly how Permanent Makeup and Lash Lift Artist, Winnie Luu, felt when she started her career in the beauty industry. Early on, she stopped investing in her work and found excuses to not continue. “I was, and still am, scared to fail. I’m terrified of not succeeding,” says Winnie in an Instagram post. Instead of building her beauty business, she stopped to take on a different job opportunity providing comfort.

Fast forward to the present time, Winnie is steadily running her beauty business as a side hustle in hopes of turning it into a full-time career. What changed for her? She realized she would never be good at anything if she doesn’t put in the time and effort to try. Winnie says, “I don’t fully know what I’m doing yet, but I’m okay with that because I’m learning along the way. I will not let my fears hold me back anymore and I will not give up this time.”

We asked Winnie what was the turning point that pushed her to finally put time and effort into her beauty business. “For me, at that point in my life, taking that job was the right choice. But I’ve always dreamed of doing bigger things while being able to travel and work on my own schedule,” she responded. “Eventually the excitement of that opportunity fizzled out and I was left feeling lost. Suddenly, my dream of wanting more came back.”

Winnie says, “I was also at a point in my life where a lot of changes had happened and I was seriously considering what I wanted my future to look like—being my own boss and working on my own schedule was on the top of my list. Very quickly thereafter, I enrolled in a beginner’s brow course and coincidentally received a job offer for a day job with stable hours that would support my side business.”

“It is not luck. It is how much you believe in yourself and how much work you are willing to put into you and your business.”

Surround Yourself with the Right People

Build connections with other business owners and those who understand the hustle. Nothing feels better than having people who understand what you’re going through. The right people are the ones you can share your fears and doubts with. They won’t just offer you a shoulder to lean on—they will tell you to get up and start facing your fears and doubts.

If you surround yourself with positivity, you will have an easier time developing a success-oriented mindset. You will start developing good habits and leveraging your skills at a much more optimal pace.

Build the courage to remove negative people from your life. Detoxing your life of the negative energy will allow you to become the business owner you want to be. You’ll be free from judgment and lack of support, leaving room for people who will support you.

For Winnie, she built connected beauty professionals through social media. “Unless you are taking a private course, you will be training with others who are probably in the same place as you. Make friends, build connections, and keep supportive, like-minded people close by. You have no idea how incredibly important this support system is,” she says. “I am unbelievably lucky to have a very supportive boyfriend and have met some amazing individuals in this industry. Believe it or not, these other artists are not here to compete with you. Reach out to these people, support them and their work, ask questions and ask for advice!”

Face the Fear of Change

Fear is one of the most common reasons for resistance to change. We fear change because we don’t know the outcome. When starting your own business, there are fears of not making enough money or having a stable client list. It’s normal to fear the unknown, however, you’ll never know what will come out of it if you don’t try.

Start looking at the positive things that will come out of this. Think of how your beauty business could look years from now. You could be making a living doing what you love, working for no one else but yourself.

Don’t give up even when you feel like you’re getting nowhere. Thousands of other now successful business owners have experienced what you are going through now. Success will not happen overnight⁠—you will need to be patient and learn to trust the process.

When we asked Winnie how she moved past the fear of change to pursue her passion, she says, “I was nervous to leave a job that was so familiar and a team that I had built from the ground up. I had to ask myself, what’s next and what else am I going to accomplish here? I was able to move past the fear of change because I am focused on the future. Like really, really focused.”

Picture of Winnie's work

Image credit: @browbabe_studio

Winnie was able to find a system that works for her whenever she felt overwhelmed or unfocused. During her spare time, she enjoys practicing and tattooing eyebrows because of how therapeutic it is. When she feels unfocused, she takes time to focus on herself. “I like to refer to myself as an introverted extrovert. Sometimes watching a show or lying on the couch with my dog is enough,” she says. “I try to stay organized to avoid feeling overwhelmed. I write all of my to-do’s down and note business-related items across 3 different platforms. I learned in school that staying organized relieves a lot of stress.”

As a business owner, you will need to find a system that works for you. It helps to try out different methods and activities to help relieve stress, recharge your focus, and stay organized.

Advice for Aspiring Beauty Professionals

Lastly, we asked Winnie what advice she would give someone looking to break into the beauty industry.

In Winnie’s Words:
Do. Not. Give up. This was something my instructors said right from the get-go—It’s not easy in the beginning but continue going and keep pushing. There will be hard days but your hustle may just be the encouragement or motivation that someone else needs! One major thing I took away from my old job that I think is very relevant is the quote, “Consistency is the difference between good and great”. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE and show up every day, ready to be better than you were yesterday!


Winnie will continue building her beauty business in hopes of turning it into a full-time career. To learn more about her business, you can check out her Instagram page.

If you are a beauty professional and would like to be featured in future blog posts, let’s connect!

Picture of Sally Pau

Sally Pau

Sally is a Product Marketer at Jupiter. She enjoys the art of storytelling through content creation to build relationships within the online community.

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