How We Hold Ourselves Back In Business

hold ourselves back in business

How We Hold Ourselves Back In Business

30 Ways We Hold Ourselves Back in Business


It’s not a nice thought, but sometimes the only thing that is preventing us from starting or growing a business, is ourselves. My clients tend to come to me because they’ve realised this, and are keen to do something about it. To be honest, there are so many ways we can hold ourselves back in business that this list could go on forever, but here are the 30 most common that I see.

Can you see yourself here?


1. Not setting goals

Setting a goal or a financial target may seem like pressure, but it gives us something to work towards and aim for. Even if we don’t reach that goal, we are at least moving in the right direction. It’s important to write them down too, as that keeps us focused and stops us from getting distracted.

2. Waiting until we are ready

It’s very rare that we feel completely ready. One of the best pieces of advice I had, when I was thinking of writing a PR course for business owners many, many years ago, was to just sell it, then write it. It was a very successful piece of advice, and when I saw the money coming in, I had the impetus and motivation to keep on writing that course until the very end. I created a few versions over the next few months while I honed and tweaked,  but I was eventually on my way from my very first sale. Also, if no one had bought it, I wouldn’t have wasted months creating it.

3. Not making time

We need time to think about our business and to do our business, and these are quite different. If you’re in a job as well as running a business, have other responsibilities or are doing this as a side hustle, you may need to accept that there are times when you need to be selfish, and put your all into it.

4. Listening to too many coachers, marketers and experts

I often see clients who are so confused with the information they are getting. One business coach for coaches says go out and coach and show your skills, another says don’t give your time away, it’s precious. Who do you listen to? The answer is yourself. Be discriminating about the advice you take.

5. Not listening to yourself

You are the expert on the marketing activities that will work for you (clue: they are the ones you enjoy). You are the expert on how to attract your clients. Perhaps you still may need to find ways of eliciting that right now, but, deep down, you probably know a lot more than you think you do.

6. Bad time management

It’s too easy to get caught up with being busy, but that doesn’t mean being productive. Perhaps things may need to be ditched or delegated. Time management is about looking at priorities rather than just actions.

7. Doing everything

Getting through a to-do list as long as your arm can help us feel a sense of achievement, but does it get us any further towards your goal? This is what you need to be assessing.

8. Spending time in the business, not on the business

You need time thinking and planning, as well as doing

9. No real processes

Streamlining processes feels like a lot of work initially, but it will release time for more important things. This could just be as simple as creating an FAQ for customers.

10. Lack of confidence in yourself

confidence in yourselfThis is a killer and I often see if when people have the motivation and oomph to start their business, then feel like they’ve run out of steam. They might look at it as an energy thing, but often it’s to do with confidence.

11. A fear of failure

Some of us don’t even try because we cannot bear the idea of what others think and say about our failure.

12. A fear of success

A successful business may mean less time with your partner and kids (at least right now, in your head, and we can address that), or having to start thinking of registering for VAT. These things can put people off, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

13. Not enough down time

A recipe for burnout

14. Not looking after the basics

It’s easy to get caught up in not eating well, sleeping badly and forgoing exercise all in the name of starting and growing a business, but it catches up with you eventually.

15. Isolating yourself

Let’s face it, running a business can be fun, stimulating and provide for many of our needs like connection and community, but looking to our business for all our needs can isolate us.

16. Fear of taking risks

Some people are naturally more risk averse than others, but if you’re paralysed by risk, that’s a big problem.

17. A vague vision

If you have only a vague vision of what you want your business and life to look like, then it’s not going to be enough to propel you through the difficult times. We want your vision to be seen in all its technicolour glory.

18. Voices in your head

I often hear clients talk about a teacher or parent who has said something negative to them in the past. Sometimes this is only just once, sometimes over and over again. They still have this voice in their head, holding them back, and it is not helpful.

19. Fear of Visibility

So many of us don’t like being seen, heard or set apart from others. This is a normal fear, as removing ourselves from tribe, many many generations ago, may have meant certain death. However, it shouldn’t be allowed to hold us back today.

20. Trauma

Past trauma can wreak havoc on our behaviors and be the cause of phobia, PTSD, OCD and others symptoms that can distract and take our focus away from our business

21. Shaky boundaries

We love family and friends but sometimes sticking to boundaries that protect your business can be hard.

22. Procrastination

This can range from needing to do a cleaning spree before you get down to work, to leaving everything to the last minute. Sometimes, that can work, especially for those with a certain personality type, but it’s not helpful for those around you. Better to learn another way…

23. Perfectionism

Sometimes linked to the above, and guaranteed to make you feel anxious and critical of almost everything you do.

24.  Trying to be someone else

Your business will work best when you work to your own strengths, skills and personality traits.

25. Mis-using social media

Social media can be a great tool for a business, but it can also be a rabbit hole that gets you nowhere.

26. A lack of community

Have you got people you can talk to about your business? A business coach is all well and good, but a strong network of business owners is vital to keep you feeling motivated and supported.

27. Imposter syndrome

I often see this when people start getting some kind of visibility and are referred to as an expert. Here’s a tip, many people feel it. You, in fact, can still feel it but go on to do great things.

28. Building the wrong business

Sometimes clients do make the wrong choices. Perhaps they’ve chosen with their head and not their heart, or maybe they haven’t really thought it through. It’s okay to stop and do something else, bringing all that knowledge and experience with you.

29. Wanting too much too soon

Set achievable goals for yourself where you can celebrate at set points along the way, and ones that won’t demoralise you if you don’t meet them.

30. Nervousness around money

We have to be comfortable with money – including asking for it and then understanding how to track it, both for ourselves and HMRC.

If you’re feeling as though you’d like to deal with some of the things that may be holding you back in business, please do contact me or book a chat with me here.

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