Self-Doubt and Other Emotional Phases of Entrepreneurship

The third stage of emotions experts say most entrepreneurs experience during their business startup mirrors the first stage and the second stage in many ways in that there are both positive and negative moments. There are a number of negative emotions you can expect, but there are also many effective ways to cope with these feelings. And as your business evolves, your positive feelings regarding it are likely to grow. Below you will find some of the things you can expect to feel during the third stage (The Self-Doubt Phase):

Performance Anxiety

One of the hardest parts about being an entrepreneur is that it can be very difficult to measure your progress. You’re new to this role, so you have very little idea about what a positive milestone looks like, and you’re your own boss now, so you probably get very little feedback from superiors. What’s more, for most entrepreneurs in this stage, their finances are scattered and unpredictable, and, with money acting traditionally as one of the most widely accepted measures of success, this can lead you to wonder about how well you are performing in your new position. Fortunately, experts say that there are ways to get over this self-doubt. One such way is to define new ways to measure your success. Because measuring your business’s success using money might not be an option at this point, it could be helpful for you to look to other types of milestones, such as those related to projects, organization, or personal goals.


hands on headUnfortunately, with new ways to measure success come new ways for you to be disappointed. It’s very common for entrepreneurs in this stage to experience their first major setbacks. As you become more comfortable with your business, you’re likely to be thrown a curveball or two. Examples include clients dropping out of contracts, contractors failing to measure up, or entire projects falling through. The good news, however, is that this is all part of the process. Remember, you probably experienced days like this in your old role as a traditional employee, and the only difference now is that you get to decide how to handle the situation rather than relying on your boss to do it for you. Just keep in mind during these frustrating times that every business experiences setbacks – and regularly, too.


At this point, you are probably thoroughly invested in your business, and so the concept of quitting, even during the toughest and most frustrating of times, is unthinkable. During this third stage of emotions, expect your determination to be renewed. Your business is part of your identity now, and your commitment to it and your desire to help it to succeed will be, too.

Frustration, performance anxiety, and determination are all emotions you’re likely to experience as you settle into and become comfortable with your new life as an entrepreneur. For what to expect during the fourth and final stage of the emotional ride of entrepreneurship, see this article on the “Been There, Done That” Phase.

About Andrew Jensen

Andrew Jensen, a business growth, efficiency & marketing consultant, provides business advisory services for clients in the Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; York, Hanover, Lancaster & Harrisburg, PA regions. Andrew advises regarding business growth, productivity, efficiency, business startups, customer service, and online/offline marketing. Follow Andrew on Google+

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