Limiting Beliefs of Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Limiting Beliefs of Aspiring Entrepreneurs


When we’re watching our competitors, the market and our product, we can miss looking at an even more important element responsible for our success: our mindset!

Talk to any successful entrepreneur about his success formula, and he will almost always place more emphasis on his mindset than on education, skills or product features.

Looking at my coaching sessions and trainings with entrepreneurs, I can confirm that. Let’s investigate a bit more and discuss three major limiting beliefs of aspiring entrepreneurs:

Why Me?

Many people have great ideas. They would be great entrepreneurs. They would be inspiring leaders. They develop great concepts and are very positive that they will work.

But they don’t act. Because a voice in their head is asking: “Why me? Why should I be the one who is making this happen?”

And the voice goes: “If this is such a great idea, why didn’t other people come up with it already? I’m sure I missed an important catch and the idea isn’t that great.”

Since the mind is really powerful and wants to test you, it takes the last punch to eliminate any remaining will power:

“Who do you think you are? You don’t have the experience or the education or the network or the money nor are you smart enough to do that! There are so many people out there who are much smarter than you! You are so stupid. If you try doing that, you will fail miserably. Your friends will laugh at you, your family will be disappointed and you will make a fool out of yourself. Forget it and stick to your roots. Keep on doing what you have done so far.”

Does this sound familiar to you?

These words are very common, especially for people who have never run a business and who are not surrounded by other entrepreneurs.

Now listen to some wise words by Steve Jobs:

“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.”

Now ask yourself again: Why you?

Because you have the passion, the persistence and the will power to do it. Because you will do it in your own style, you will make it different to others and that makes you unique. You don’t have to put all your eggs into one basket immediately. But you have to get over these limiting beliefs by taking a few little steps. Just a few steps to get some feedback from real people and customers and not only your inner voice.

Be assured: Many successful people had and still have to fight with their inner voice which is trying to hold them back.

What can I do if it fails and doesn’t work as expected?

Okay, you’re ready to go out, pumped up with your mind-blowing business idea that will change the world forever. You expect everybody to buy into your idea immediately. You want to see excited faces looking at you, begging to be your client.

Unfortunately this might not happen to you, because it almost never happens. At least not at the first try.

And since we love our idea, we expect everyone to love it too. This can become quite frustrating.

When we experience an unexpected (negative) reaction to our business idea, we tend to question ourselves. Many aspiring entrepreneurs will take this as proof that their idea was not that good. That they are not smart enough, and it was a crazy idea to even think about becoming an entrepreneur.

Whatever you do in life, it will most likely not always work immediately. We have to be prepared to fail. And failing scares many people to death!

A successful entrepreneur expects setbacks.

He knows that setbacks and rejection are key elements in creating a great product or service. You can only improve by getting feedback! If a client tells you why he’s not buying, you should say “thank you.” If you know his “why” you can work on your offering and make it better. Get back to him later and provide the new solution.

By the way: You don’t need to make everybody love your product or service. This would be a nightmare – because you won’t be able to handle it! Getting a market share of 5%, 10% or 15% is a pretty good share for many businesses. This means, 85% – 95% of the prospects would not like your product. But who cares if 5% – 15% do actually love it!

Even at a later stage in your venture, there will always be setbacks.

If you’d be a football player, a striker, would you use every chance to make a goal if you see an opportunity? I trust you would.

Would you stop playing football, because you shot at the goal once and did not make it? I don’t think so. You and your teammates would go on and on and on – until you make it. Even Lionel Messi, maybe the best football player ever, is not making a goal whenever he fires at it. So don’t think you have to score every time you’re talking to someone!

But never stop trying!

That’s what differentiates the successful people from the struggling ones:

  • The struggling people are taking a setback as a proof for “I won’t make it.” In the end this mindset will take them exactly there.
  • The successful entrepreneurs take a setback as a part of the journey. They expect setbacks and are willing and ready to learn from them. This mindset takes them wherever they want to go to.

What is the perfect thing to do?

If you believe in yourself and expect setbacks, there is still another little ‘thing’ in your mind that might jeopardise your breakthrough as an entrepreneur.

This ‘thing’ makes the difference between an idea and success.

You won’t believe how many strategy papers I read from mid-size and large corporations. They had great ideas, perfect plans, and excellent strategies. They only failed in terms of that one little ‘thing’ which I call Taking Action.

We tend to ask ourselves for hours, days, weeks and months “What is the perfect way to do this?” Asking this question means that you are never going to do it. Because you will never know what the perfect way is!

As an entrepreneur you have to accept this. Especially in the beginning, you need to stop looking for the perfect way, because it will hold you back from taking action, and without taking action, nothing will happen.

Replace the hunt for the “perfect way” with the quest for the “most promising first and second step.”

By the way: This does not mean you can deliver bad products or services! You have to deliver great quality. The quality has to match your client’s expectations – at the very least. Then keep on going and make it better. Many people never act since they are never satisfied and never think that it’s perfect. This is a procrastination trap, making success impossible!

It’s like climbing a mountain: First you make a decision which mountain to climb; next you choose a route to take and start walking. On your way you will change the route whenever appropriate, depending on the terrain and weather. You will keep an eye on your mountain top and adjust your approach. But you will never get on top of it, if you don’t start walking and keep on going.

Wayne Gretzky, the best ice hockey player the world has seen, and holder of numerous world records, once said: You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.

Start now and take action, learn from it and keep going.

Axel Rittershaus
Axel Rittershaus is an internationally renowned C-Level / Executive Coach & Author who started as an entrepreneur in the IT industry in 1993. He knows that success is the result of hard work and determination even more than innate talent. A master of maintaining focus and follow-through, Axel supports C-Level leaders globally in achieving goals. Axel is dedicated and passionate to see clients succeed beyond their expectations. Axel is also the president of the International Coach Federation South Africa and a multiple Two Oceans and Comrades finisher. You can follow him on twitter.
  • lizwe

    Great article and inspirational words, just what every self-doubting business person I meet every two days at least, needs to hear. Often I come across people who believe that the success of their businesses is base on what happens ‘around’ them and never ‘inside’ them. I like referring to ‘mental strength and a tough stomach for business challenges’ as the real separator of would-be success stories and those that will never crack it. Well said Axel!