*As seen featured in the Huffington Post

When you think of an entrepreneur, what are the first words that come to mind? My guess is that words like “go-getter,” “hard-working,” “dedicated,” “brave,” “motivated,” and “driven” are at the top of your list. 

But what about “human?” 

It is easy to forget that behind every ambitious entrepreneur is a person who has had life experiences that shape their views of the world around them. Regardless of whatever hard exterior we work to show publicly, deep down, we are all just human. That humanness means that we bring our “stuff” to the table in everything that we do and when we have not yet overcome past negative experiences, that negativity bleeds into our businesses.

Many people steer away from the word trauma when describing entrepreneurship, but I think it is crucial that it be acknowledged. There is a common misconception that to experience a trauma, something terrible like war or physical abuse had to occur. While those are examples of trauma, there are many types of other traumas that warrant mentioning.

Losing your job, financial insecurity, taking risks, and not having emotional support are all examples of trauma that are common among entrepreneurs. Not to mention exposure to life experiences outside of business such as divorce, cheating, health issues, grief and loss, neglect, emotional abuse, etc. All of these negative experiences can pile on top of each other to negatively impact the entrepreneur and their business. 

The good news is that awareness is key. Once you are willing to look at yourself without judgement, get clear about your stuck points, and take steps to unravel the impact of your past experiences, it is more than possible to get unstuck and propel forward both personally and in your business. 

Common stuck points: 

  • Fear of failure- If you have had failures in your life, identify as an over-achiever or perfectionist, or have seen others fail, than this one likely resonates with you. A fear of failure keeps you stuck by blocking your ability to really put yourself out there. If you don't take risks, you can’t fail, but you also won’t be able to achieve all that you are capable of.                                                                        
  • Fear of success- Having a fear of success is less talked about than a fear of failure, yet it is equally if not more common. Many people struggle with the thought process of “Who am I to be great?” This comes from feeling less than and not connecting to your true value. This can keep you stuck playing small, as that feels safer than taking a leap into success. 
  • Fear of visibility- Many people struggle with insecurities and fears about being seen or heard. This stuck point keeps you behind the curtain, back stage and unseen. If this is something you struggle with, you may often define yourself as a chameleon or someone who is always morphing into what others want you to be. This is linked to low self esteem which can manifest itself in many ways, from body image issues to a lack of confidence.
  • Fear of losing people- This fear is usually connected with loss or grief in some way. Many people who have had significant loss in their life or have a lack of consistent support, have fear of connecting with others deeply because they believe that they will lose them at some point. This keeps you stuck because it creates walls that keep you from getting too close to people both personally and in your business. 
  • Lack of trust- While I do believe in the importance of healthy boundaries and getting to know someone before sharing your world with them, learning how to trust people is a key to getting unstuck. A lack of trust can be detrimental in business, where partnership and collaboration can open doors and lead to more opportunities. 
  • Difficulty setting boundaries- In contrast to lack of trust discussed above, some people struggle with setting firm boundaries, saying “no.” This is common for people who describe themselves as “people pleasers” or have fear of rejection. Setting boundaries is an important part of a healthy business and lifestyle. When someone is stuck in this area, they often feel overcommitted and spread too thin.
  • Money issues- Many people struggle with issues surrounding money. This is manifested through spending too much, hoarding, fear of charging your value, insecurity around earning what you are worth, etc. In entrepreneurship investing in yourself and your business is a key component to success, one that is often hindered when people have issues around finances. 

If any of these stuck points resonate with you, I encourage you take some time to invest in yourself so that they don’t keep you stuck any longer. Many people stay stuck because they do not believe they are worth investing in themselves when it comes to therapy, coaching, and personal development. When in reality, such an investment can change every other aspect of their life for the better. 

As human beings we are social creatures. We are not meant to endure the challenges of life alone. Having a coach or therapist can open the door to an objective support system that can make a huge impact in your ability to heal. Your business is only as strong as the leader behind it. What are you willing to do to be the best version of yourself?