Business psychology

7 steps to help introverts overcome self-doubt and start a business

- September 28, 2022 8 MIN READ
kids in superhero costumes

Attention all introverts – it’s time to come out from under the covers! In overcoming your self-doubt, you will soon see how you will have the confidence to step into the life you were born to be living and build your side-hustle, writes leadership coach and founder of The School of Purpose, Simon Moore.

The introvert’s plight

Everyone suffers from self-doubt at various times of their lives, while for us introverts, it is an often multiple-times-daily occurrence.

Over the years, self-doubt and low confidence has stopped me from participating in life at various times, because in my head, I wasn’t willing to put myself out there and face potential embarrassment and judgement from others. So I have stayed relatively safe all these years, hiding from the world, hoping that somehow, magically, I would discover a way of living a life I wanted – helping others – and still be hidden from the world.

If I am being honest, I doubt myself several times (or more) daily, but I now know how to keep functioning with life. I even know how to kick ass (yes, its ok for an introvert to say and think they can kick ass!) when I feel like I should be curled up on the couch or under the covers, hiding from the world.

And let me add, there is nothing wrong with hiding from the world. All introverts need down time; it is what helps us be the magical unicorns that we are – but there is also some living to be done, outside of our hiding places and comfort zones.

All it takes it a little courage to come out and present yourself to the world. That might still sound scary, and that’s ok.

confidence can be learnt

A wake-up call

I have known, and I dare say you will know it too, that buried somewhere deep inside of you is a feeling that you are meant to do more with your life, and shine brightly (or dimly) for others to see. If you want to discover all that life has to offer, then you can’t continue to keep hiding all of the time.

At some point, an awakening must occur. Maybe it’s a wake-up call that appears after a milestone birthday, a health scare, the loss of a loved one – or maybe you simply wake up one day and realise that your life isn’t where you wanted it to be, and you are the only one that can do something about it.

7 steps to overcoming self-doubt

If you are reading this, then I know that you have that feeling – even if it is only a small feeling – that’s enough to know you are ready for more in life.

Here is what works for me in learning how to overcome self-doubt as an introvert.

1. Facing your fears and doing it anyway

Introverts are experts at overthinking everything, and then thinking about it some more. There is a point in your life when you must decide to stop thinking about all the possible outcomes of what may or may not happen. Learn to say ‘To hell with it’, and do it anyway, whatever it is, and at whatever risk (particularly emotional risk such as risk of embarrassment or risk of failure).

It might be trying something new, going out with a new crowd, or attending an event that you would normally say no to. The event might be the difference in your side-hustle becoming a success or not.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is often where life happens, and where you find the most growth, but if you aren’t ready for that just yet, keep reading.

2. How many people have told you they have no regrets?

I have regrets, but I also know that everything I have done in life, good and bad, has helped me get to the place I am now. And the regrets have taught me so much. Had I not experienced them, or made the decisions I have made in life, then I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

Many years ago, I had a regret in not asking a girl out on a date, but it was a learning. When the opportunity presented itself in more recent times, with a different girl, I decided to risk any embarrassment or rejection and ask her out. I let my past regrets, and that experience, allow me to do it anyway. I made a decision, backed myself, overcame my self-doubt for a moment, and went for it. And I couldn’t be happier about the outcome.

Allow your past regrets to teach you.

Listen to psychologist Mel Schilling talk about fear and confidence on the Flying Solo podcast:

3. Make a decision and move on, even when it’s the wrong one

For many years I had clients tell me that when they couldn’t attend a session, they would beat themselves up mentally and tell themselves that they should have been there. My message was always the same: make a decision and stick with it. Whether it was a yes or a no, don’t sit in the middle, thinking about whether or not you should have made the alternate decision. Make it, stick with it, and keep moving.

If you are going to the trouble of making a decision, put your energy into whatever it is you decide to do rather than regretting what you haven’t done.

4. Back yourself

For introverts, we spend so much time in our head that we over-analyse everything and think way too much about what everyone else might think about us.

As an introvert, one of our strongest traits is low confidence. Learning to back yourself and be confident in your abilities can be daunting, so start small. Find something small you can do, or start something new, and prove to yourself that you can do it. Then move onto something slightly bigger. Back yourself, you can do it!

As E.J. Lamprey famously wrote: ‘You know all those things you’ve wanted to do? You should go do them!’

Proud woman standing in office showing confidence

5. Believe in you

You don’t need to be an introvert to not believe in yourself; it happens to almost everyone, no matter what image people portray on the outside.

Similar to the previous step in backing yourself, you actually need to start believing in yourself. Believe that people want to, and choose to, spend time with you; that it’s even a highlight of their day. Believe that you have qualities that others admire, and that you should admire in yourself.

I have met too many introverts who have so much to offer, yet have such little belief in themselves that they are not able to recognise their qualities, or their ability to help those who would benefit from their skills. Introverts can even see self-confidence as an unattractive quality; that it seems like someone is showing off rather than being humble, as many introverts are.

Confidence is simply a quality that allows you to go places that having no confidence keeps you avoiding. And – big news – you can still be humble and keep all of your beautiful traits, and be confident at the same time. Go figure!

6. Set boundaries to clear the clutter

What do you have in your life that needs to be thrown out, and what boundaries do you need to keep to not let those things back in?

It might be those boxes sitting in a room or in the garage that you have been keeping for years. Maybe it’s friends that don’t really help you be a better human being; or perhaps it’s consuming reading material such as books, online articles and magazines that support you in being down on yourself.

We tend to look for confirmation of what we are doing wrong, rather than what we have done right.

When you are surrounded by any type of clutter, you are surrounded by constant reminders that you plan on a magical ‘one day’ when you’ll have time to clean it up, time to read those books again or file those old bills, or when you’ll feel ready to find better, more supportive friends.

You carry the same mentality with your business, that you will put all your energy into it ‘one day’ when you have time.

In being surrounded by clutter, it also reaffirms your self-doubts, as the longer it takes for you to reach your ‘one day’, the more you decide subconsciously that you will never actually get there.

Clean yourself up in these areas, be firm with your boundary-setting, and start making better decisions about what (and who) you put your energy into. By doing this, you will start to have more energy for the good friends who celebrate you, good books that inspire you, and building a strong business you can be proud of. Your life will no longer be cluttered by things that aren’t fulfilling you.

7. Start something!

I couldn’t write a list of steps to follow without encouraging you to start something … anything. The best way I know how to overcome self-doubt and kick some serious ass as an introvert is by starting something.

Your something will be very different to the next person’s something.

My focus is on helping introverts start a side-hustle and if you are ready to start your own business, then by all means, go for it. But, depending on where you are at, you may need to prove to yourself that you can do it first. I encourage you to try something creative or fun first (this may also become your side-hustle); it might be learning to paint, taking a course, playing guitar, learning to fly a plane, or you might prefer jumping out of a plane. Whatever it is, start researching it and then don’t delay; take your first step towards starting it today!

The act of starting something has so many benefits:

  • Starting and then finishing something gives you a sense of achievement and fulfilment.
  • It takes you out of your comfort zone.
  • You learn a new skill, and show yourself that you can do something you didn’t think you could do.

And whammo (it’s a word!), you are on your way to overcoming your self-doubt and stepping into the life you were born to live.

Brave, strong woman wearing superhero cape and mask

Life is waiting for you

This is all about you overcoming self-doubt and believing in yourself, while maintaining your introvert safety blanket.

You may read these steps and wonder how they are helping you build your side-hustle? These seven steps are the reason you haven’t built your side-hustle yet, and learning them will be the reason why you do.

My goal is to help introverts see that life is waiting for them, if they are willing to step outside of their comfort zone and take a chance. By hiding from the world, no one gets to see your shining light, or be touched by your beautiful and caring soul that is unique only to you. You have the ability to inspire so many others with your skills, thoughts and outlook on life, and you have the ability to build a business that harnesses all of your strengths.

All of these steps will help you in overcoming self-doubt, but if you take anything from what you have read, let it be this:

The world is full of so many people wanting the days and weeks to go faster, waiting for their ‘one day’, racing to 5pm or waiting for the weekend to arrive. You have the ability to make this life of yours a kick-ass life, and you have the ability to help others do the same with your side-hustle.

Start something, build your own confidence and help others, one at a time, and you will start to see your world changing for the better.

Don’t wish your time away; instead, make better use of the time you have. You get one life, it’s time to make the most of it.

This article was published in 2019 and has been updated for 2022.

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