From disapproving fathers to opinionated colleagues to incredulous former CEOs, many small business owners discovered that ‘doubt’ roots itself in unexpected places. Keap set out to learn about the stories from entrepreneurs who have inspired us to quiet the doubters through their own success journeys.
Alison Gower’s experience with doubters came by way of people like her—other writers, freelancers, and entrepreneurs.
“Doubters in general have been a huge thing for me,” she said. “I think friends and loved ones were a little surprised and supportive, but of course concerned with whether I’d be able to make it …”
While they offered well-meaning advice on how hard it was to make a living as a professional writer, it came across as negative. Eventually, their comments created a new doubter—herself. However, Alison persisted and 6 years later, she’s crushing it with her own business. Her story is a good reminder to support one another in entrepreneurship. Alison recommends taking screenshots of positive emails, texts, or referrals and reading them often as a way to stay motivated.
Melisa Celikel—Let’s Get You Organized!
Melisa Celikel, founder, of Let’s Get You Organized! shared that sometimes it’s those closest to you that doubt you—even if it's with good intentions. As the daughter of immigrants, whose father earned a doctorate while working his way out of poverty, Melisa was taught that success was achieved through good grades, a college degree, and a corporate job.
That version of the ‘American Dream’ wasn’t for Celikel, though. After 15 years and a case of burn out, she launched a professional home organization firm, netting a profit in the first year of business, with zero debt. She advises that untethering from anchored beliefs is the key to successful entrepreneurship. So far, Melisa has transformed the lives and businesses of 250 clients in 2018 and plans to double that in 2019.
Jason Patel experienced skepticism at a networking event in Washington D.C., soon after launching Transizion—a college and career prep company focused on closing the Opportunity Divide in America. While networking at a local bar, Jason was introduced to the head of a non-profit, who previously served as the CEO for a large corporation. He told Jason he wouldn’t be able to compete with venture-funded businesses, many of which raised tens of millions of dollars.
Jason ignored the advice, however and his company is thriving. His advice to other small businesses would be to check your ego and keep working. Additionally, he recommends focusing on the right tasks, spending your time wisely, getting everything you can out of feedback (even if it’s negative) and not giving up.
While you wouldn’t expect skepticism at a networking event, Kerry Mellin of EazyHold was met with doubt at another unlikely place—her dentist’s office. Although a faithful patient for nearly 32 years, when Kerry shared her business idea with her dentist, his advice was not to quit her day job.
“You’re a costume designer. Why do you think you can do this,” he asked.
During each visit over the next 18 months, Kerry would update her dentist on her progress. His advice would vary, but would always end with the same token, “don’t quit your day job.” Eventually, she reported that her business was soaring and, yes, she quit her day job—and he stopped talking. Her advice: It's hard, but the best way to quiet the doubters is to listen to your gut and trust your partners.
Like Alison, Susanne Evans, founder of Driven, Inc., also encountered her share of doubters. While some entrepreneurs are great at turning off other people’s negativity, Susanne has a different approach—don’t tell everyone. Choose who needs to know about your vision and when. When naysayers start sharing their opinions she reminds herself of her successes. Susanne’s best remedy? Keep growing and working to prove them wrong.
Jeff Howell—Lease Ref
Someone who understands the need to prove people wrong is Jeff Howell. He started Lease Ref, an agency which provides virtual real estate advice. Jeff said many didn’t understand how he would earn a living online as real estate consulting was seen as only an in-person play. He encountered people who never believed that people would actually search for virtual advice on their commercial lease. They were wrong, and Jeff has a successful and profitable career with Lease Ref. His advice: although there are early mornings and late nights when starting his business—don’t give up.
He suggests getting advice early (good and bad), and having the self-awareness to know what is fact versus fiction. Keep powering through, and you’ll get stronger and better every day.
The bottom line is that there will always be a doubter in your path. Believe in yourself, learn from everyone and put one step in front of the other to keep going and keep growing.
Share your own doubter story at #KeapDoubtOut.