5 Ways to Quiet Self-Doubt When Starting a Business

self-doubt when starting a business

When I started my first subscription box, I thought I needed to find someone else to be the face of my brand. An influencer. Someone younger, thinner, blonder. The problem? They all looked the same. 20-something, skinny, blond and tan. That wasn’t me, and it wasn’t my customers.

I realized my customers were just like me. They were busy, southern moms. They weren’t perfectly fit or perfectly put together. They were me. That meant there was only one person who could represent my business. One person who could be the face of my business. Me. 

When I started to overcome that self-doubt, my business started to grow. And grow. Now, I have an online retail store and three subscription boxes serving more than 3,000 customers every month. I also help others build their own subscription box businesses through my business coaching and mentoring programs. I show up for my subscribers and my members every day. As myself. 

Let’s talk about five things you can do to quiet self-doubt when starting a business. 

Embrace who you are.

This is really hard but so important. Embrace everything you have going on – the good, the bad and the ugly. We all have flaws. It’s OK!

When I first started going LIVE on Facebook talking about my subscription boxes and items in my online store, I froze up if someone asked what size t-shirt I was wearing. My customers were trying to get an idea of how the tees fit and I was paralyzed because I didn’t want to admit I wore a size extra-large. 

Then I realized most of my customers ordered size large and extra-large t-shirts. Again, my customers were me. They wanted to know what size I was wearing because they liked the way the shirts looked on me. Once I embraced who I am – someone who wears an extra-large t-shirt – sales boomed. Seriously boomed. And all it took was me making the decision to embrace who I am. 

Turn your competitor’s flaws into confidence that you can do it better.

I watched a large subscription company do what I wanted to do, and I thought, “Man, they did it before me.” They had a lot of subscribers. The way they priced their subscription, there was no way I would ever be able to offer that kind of price. I felt as though they were giving their boxes away. It put me in a funk. I wondered if this was something I could do. 

Then, I dug into their social media and the comments were terrible. Their subscribers were not having a good experience. Nobody answered customer service emails. 

I saw a real disconnect between the product and the experience the subscribers were getting. I thought, “I can do this, and I can do this better because I care about my customers.” I knew that if I did my subscription box my way – focusing on providing an outstanding experience to my subscribers – I would succeed. 

Realize you don’t have to do everything yourself. 

I spent more than a year mulling over the idea of starting a subscription box without telling anyone. My retail business was doing great. I had hired an employee. I started to pay myself regularly. I moved from a 600-square-foot space to a 4,000-square-foot space. But something kept pulling me back to the idea of a VIP experience for my regulars through a unique subscription box.

I had my boxes planned in my mind. I knew what I would put in the boxes and I knew how much my subscribers would love them. What I couldn’t picture in my mind was the tech piece. I couldn’t figure out how to manage the recurring payment aspect of a subscription box. 

Then, during a meeting with my web developer, I blurted out – for the first time – that I wanted to start a subscription box. And I mentioned some of my challenges, like how to accept recurring payments and how to handle shipping.

My web developer knew how to solve the payment problem. I let him handle that part of things while I worked on the rest. And very soon, I was ready to launch my subscription box. 

Realize you don’t have to do everything yourself. It’s important to know when to hire something out, especially if it is holding you back from making progress.

Set a goal and know it’s okay to start small.

I set goals for my first subscription box. The first, and most important goal, was to make this a great experience for my subscribers. My second goal was financial. I figured out how many monthly subscribers I needed in order to feel financially stable in my business. 

That number was 100. One hundred subscribers would allow me to cover the bills for my shop and paychecks for me and my employee. 

Anything else I sold online, anything else I sold in store, that was all a bonus. If I could cover those initial expenses, that was going to really help me feel secure and create the consistent, reliable revenue I needed. 

I launched my monogram subscription box and ended up with 44 subscribers that first month. I was thrilled, but still had that goal of 100 I was aiming for. I added 25 more boxes for each of the next nine months… 75, then 100, then 125. 

I managed my growth carefully. I could have grown faster, but knew I didn’t want to be sitting on a big pile of inventory. I didn’t want my money tied up in my back room.

Invest in yourself. Find resources and mentors to help fill in your knowledge gaps.

My subscription grew to just over 300 subscribers pretty quickly. But once I reached that 300 mark, I plateaued. I loved those 300+ subscribers, but I felt I was meant for more. 

Since what I was trying on my own wasn’t helping me grow beyond 300 subscribers, I decided to invest in myself. I joined a mastermind. I soaked up information like a sponge. 

Then it was time to start implementing what I’d learned. I started showing up. I ran Facebook ads. I started an affiliate program, which turned out to be a game-changer. I embraced being the face of my brand. I hired more people. I started a second subscription.

These steps gradually and systematically quieted my self-doubt and fueled the growth of my businesses. Now, I have thousands of monthly subscribers, and a waitlist of people trying to get in.

This guest post was authored by Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams is the CEO and founder of two 7-figure businesses, Framed by Sarah and Launch Your Box, where she has mentored more than 4,000 aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses on how to start, launch and grow their subscription box businesses. Her own boxes are booming, serving 3,000 monthly customers with three options. Sarah also hosts the Launch Your Box podcast, where she focuses on strategies, tactics and problem-solving as well as addressing mindset issues that can stand in the way of success.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.