Episode 7. Overcoming Your Fear of Judgment as an Entrepreneur

I’ve been seeing new entrepreneurs who aren’t perhaps seeing the results they want. I’ve noticed that their lack of consistent results isn’t necessary because they don’t know what to do to get those results. Instead, their lack of results can be attributed to their lack of action because they’re worried about what people will think.

This usually manifests in the form of thoughts such as: What will my friends, family, or coworkers think of my business? What if my audience thinks I’m selling too much on my Instagram stories? Are people going to think my price is too high? Is my content good? Will it get X number of likes? 

In This Episode:

Why people are most likely thinking more about themselves and not you

If you’re feeling uncertain about what to do next in your business, chances are, it’s not really because you don’t know.

It’s because you’re worried about what people are going to think when you take the big, scary actions of putting yourself out there and doing the things that many people themselves will never do because they themselves are worried what others will think of them. 

People are usually more worried about themselves than they’re concerned about what you’re doing or not doing. 

Their days and their lives don’t revolve around you. 

Even if you get a negative comment on your Instagram post, that doesn’t mean that person is so caught up in your business to watch your every move. People simply don’t have the mental capacity to care about you to the degree you assume.

If anything, thinking that people are watching you that closely can almost come off as egotistic. People generally have other things to worry about. And if they do happen to be super immersed in following your every move and commenting on everything that you do… That says a lot about their lives and how maybe there’s nothing going on for them, so they’re focusing all their attention onto you. That’s on them.

Right now as you’re reading this post, your mind is likely focused on what I’m saying. But as soon as you finish reading this post and move onto the next thing in your day, you would have forgotten about this post within seconds. 

Think about your own behaviors – how invested are you in other entrepreneurs’ lives? 

Even if it is someone you really admire and respect, how invested are you in their every move? 

I’m going to guess you may be interested and even a huge fan of theirs, but as soon as you close your Instagram app or finish listening to their podcast, your brain goes back to your own life and thinking about yourself and what you’ve got to work on next. 

I hope this takes some pressure off because the fear of judgment and the fear of people saying or thinking negative things is NOT serving you at all. 

More often than not, people truly are way too busy with their own problems than to spend time making judgments about you.

My personal story of how I overcame my fear of judgment that led to my first paying client

Let’s look at it another way: First, what would you love to have achieved by the end of this month? In the next three months? In the next 6 or 12 months? 

Second, how is your fear of people judging you conducive to you hitting these goals? Is it going to motivate you to take more action or take less action? 

What are the costs of inaction because you’re scared to show up and deal with potential judgment? What business opportunities are you missing out on? 

What is the impact you could have been making on other people, but aren’t, because you are scared to put your work out there and help people? 

What message do people need to hear from you, but aren’t getting it from you because you’re too scared to share it on social media? What are the financial costs of not showing up and building your business? 

More importantly, how are you missing out on growing as a person and as a business owner because you’re too worried about what people think? 

When I dropped out of law school in late 2018, I was terrified of what people would think. Not just in terms of what strangers on the internet will think, but what will people I know in real life think.

What helped me work through this thought and started showing up to talk about my experiences online was that I knew there was a hundred percent someone out there who would resonate with my story. They needed to hear my message because they’re going through something similar. 

This empowered me to start a Youtube channel and share my experiences on Instagram. Even though my Youtube channel doesn’t exist anymore, I started my business and built an audience as a result of this.

My very first paying client – in her application to my 1:1 program, said that she felt deeply connected to my story of leaving law school and wanted to start her own business because she was experiencing essentially a quarter life crisis. She wanted to start something that was meaningful, impactful, and profitable in a way to help other people and also help navigate her own quarter life crisis. 

By the way, for those of you who may not know, my first business name was the Quarter Life Project, but I’ve since renamed it to Cheryl Theory. 

I share this example to demonstrate that you truly never know who needs to hear about what you do and the amazing things that can happen as a result of you putting yourself out there and showing up for your business. 

Your life can look drastically different in 3 to 6 months from now simply because you committed to doing the damn thing today. 

The costs of not taking action

Let’s say you’re someone who’s new to the online business space. Maybe you have some ideas about your offer and how you want to help people. 

But here’s a fork in the road – Should you take action and go out and work with people and see what happens? Or, should you not do anything at all, because honestly, you don’t know what the outcome will be? 

I’d personally recommend that you let the results dictate your next steps instead of shooting your ideas down without even trying at all. 

Right now, all the possible outcomes are just thoughts in your mind. They’re not facts. Nothing has happened, and nothing will continue to happen if you keep sitting and thinking, “What if…?”.

What if people judge? What if I fail? What if my offer doesn’t work? It’s easy to quit when you’re worried about the outcomes or what people think. Trust me, I get it.  

However, I’m 100% sure you’ve gone through much worse than worrying about what people think of you. 

I’m pretty sure you’ve dealt with much more difficult situations in life than getting some negative feedback on what you do, especially from people who haven’t even done what you’ve wanted to achieve! 

People have a lot of things to say about everything, even if they’ve never even made the first move to try something. They’ll still have something to say or think.

Likewise, if you’re worried about making the wrong move and having to deal with the judgment from others afterwards, I want to remind you that you’ve made things work before, even when you didn’t know what to do. 

You don’t have to feel like things are a lot worse or a lot harder than it has to be in your business.

All your past struggles have equipped you to be able to handle your business struggles. 

The truth is: You’ve been through harder things in your life than starting an online business. So why are you now second guessing yourself when there’s evidence that you’re capable and resilient and you can figure things out? 

A lot of us don’t have prior business experience or training. But there are countless examples of entrepreneurs who figured it out for themselves and made their businesses work despite not having the “right” credentials or education or training. 

That’s because there’s no “right” blueprint in business. You can achieve your business goals on your own terms. This also means that you may fail and have to deal with the aftermath of people judging you.

A lot of what you’ve experienced before probably makes your business concerns and fear of judgment seem minor compared to what you’ve gone through.

There’s a lot of things you’re losing out on by not showing up and building your business because you’re worried about what people think.

For example, you never know who needs to hear what you have to say. By not showing up, this is keeping you from serving your people. People often keep their ideas and offers in their brains and never sell it or bring it to life.

They have important messages they want to share and these are things people need to hear. By not showing up to tell people about your experiences or sharing about what you do in your business, you’re denying the change or results that people want and need. 

Not showing up does not help anyone. It does not serve your audience, it doesn’t serve your clients, and it doesn’t serve yourself. 

Playing small because you’re worried what people think doesn’t help anyone.

How taking action actually helps you overcome your fear of judgment

Be aware of who you’re taking opinions or feedback from. Are they your ideal clients or someone who has achieved the goals you want for yourself? 

I also want to quickly preface this. It’s not that their opinions of you are more true or valid than your own thoughts about yourself. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. 

Rather, consider how you can start believing in yourself more and not let other people’s thoughts sway you? 

One thing that may help is to focus on the actions you take, not the thoughts inside your brain. 

When you start seeing the results from your actions, it’s easier to start believing in yourself and in the results that are possible for you. Rather than allowing people’s opinions or hypotheses about what’s possible or not possible for you dictate your own thoughts and self-belief. 

The danger of internalizing other people’s opinions, especially when they’re not your ideal clients and people who have not achieved what you want to achieve, is that you’re basing your actions and trying to predict your results off insufficient evidence. This usually leads to paralysis or inaction in your business and not getting the results you want for yourself. 

A common fear I see among entrepreneurs is that they’re worried what their audience will think if they sell on their social media. 

The thought people immediately jump to is, “Oh my God, people think I’m being too salesy.”. 

However, that’s only one way to look at it. Another way to view this, is to think about who this offer is going to benefit most, and how you showing up is allowing the right people to become aware of your offer. 

Your business and offer is not going to be for everyone. Rather than focusing your thoughts and attention on the people who aren’t even the right fit and worrying about what they’re thinking, I urge you to focus on showing up to talk about your offer as a way to help the right people.

If you’re afraid to make offers, you’re delaying your progress in your business and delaying the impact you’re meant to make. 

Your desire to grow your business and make an impact on your clients’ lives needs to exceed your fear of being judged from people who aren’t even ideal clients in the first place.

Sales comes from giving value. 

You have to give value before others decide to invest in your offer, and hopefully, this should ease your concerns about, “OMG I’m too salesy.” and instead shift focus to, “How can I give more value AND make an invitation for the right people in my audience to work with me so we can make lots of things happen?”. 

Remember: Don’t let your ego get in the way of putting yourself and your work out there. There are people in your audience who will really benefit from your work.

Your offer is of value to the right people. Remember that!

When it comes to selling your offer, you need to remember the value of the work that you do. Your clients want to reduce a pain point or gain a benefit, so they’ll spend money on things that will help them do just that. 

People want to spend money on things that will especially take away pain or things that create pleasure.

When you cave into the thought that, “People are going to judge me if I talk about my offer.”, you’re missing out on the opportunity to help change their circumstances, help them solve a problem, or help them achieve what it is they’ve always wanted.

If you aren’t selling because you think people will judge, then your audience will simply buy from your colleagues and competitors because their problems and goals are still going to be there irrespective of whether you show up.

If anyone else is available to help them, your prospective clients will gladly reach out to your colleagues or competitors and inquire about their services instead of yours. 

If you don’t make it clear what offer you have and invite people to inquire, they’ll buy from someone else who is making it easy for people to buy from them.

People spend money when they see value.

You need to show them the value and not be embarrassed about selling your offers because what you’ve got to offer is of value to the right people. 

How you show up for your audience and business depends on what you believe about yourself and your business

Who do you need to be and what do you need to do so you can achieve the desired outcomes? 

It’s easy to let the fear of what people are thinking about you determine what you do or don’t do.

But, that’s optional. You have the choice of what to think and what to perceive of your situation. 

For instance, you can choose to believe that what you’re doing is of value to a specific niche or audience, and what you’re doing is worth continuing on because you can really make an impact on people. 

Thinking otherwise is optional. It’s all up to you. 

You can believe that, “OMG other people think my business is lame so I should quit.”. Or you can recognize the value of your offer and believe that what you do is of service to others and continue to show up and share your work and your message. 

How you show up for your audience and business depends on what you believe about yourself and your business.

Someone can have the exact same circumstances as you and choose to think differently of the situation. Your thoughts are not the truth. 

Instead, the actions you take as a result, determine the truth. 

Are you more committed to your future and to your goals, or are you more committed to staying in your current circumstances and not moving towards what you really want? 

You need to believe you’re someone who chooses growth over letting fear of judgment stop you from doing things that you know damn well can be of value to someone else. 

You need to believe you are someone who chooses growth over letting fear of judgment stop you from showing up for your own goals and progress and success. 

Starting a business requires you to be committed to your own growth. 

You need to make your goals bigger than your fear

If you’re running a service based business such as coaching, you’ll also attract people who are committed to their growth when people can clearly see that you’re someone who’s committed to your own growth.

Now the question becomes: In what ways do you need to grow in order to achieve your business goals? What mindset growth do you need to go through? What strategies do you need to experiment with and implement? 

You need to make your goals bigger than your fear. 

Your fear and excuses will always exist even if you achieved a specific goal. You’ll always have more fears and excuses, just like how there’ll always be people who have something to say about you or your business. 

For example, there might have been a time when you thought one client would be enough. 

Then once you got the client, you felt that you needed three. And when you signed three, you felt like you needed double that. 

It’s never enough unless you change your thoughts.

The same applies to trying to get people’s approval. Even if you get one person’s support for your business, there will always be people who aren’t yet convinced by the value and impact of what you do. 

There will always be more naysayers and even haters. 

The reality is NOT that your business is not impactful and transformative for others. 

You can choose to feel assured and confident about your work no matter what others are thinking or saying. 

If anything, you need to feel secure in the decisions you make because your thoughts dictate your reality. 

It’s the thoughts you think most often that make a certain reality seem more real or salient, and hence your thoughts influence your decisions and actions.

Even if you make a mistake and your audience notices it, you can just make a better decision next time and do things differently moving forward. 

Even if you become paralyzed and end up not showing up because you don’t want to make another public failure, people could very well judge you for not showing up. 

People could think, “Wow, just because of a small issue, he or she stopped showing up on Instagram. I’m no longer sure if he or she is the right coach or service provider for me.”. 

No matter what you do, people will always have something to think or say. 

Be disciplined towards your goals and not your comfort zone

Rather than trying to play small because of the fear of judgment, I invite you to be brave and take the massive action steps required for you to achieve your goals.

People are going to judge you in some way whether or not you take action for your business, so why don’t you create amazing things in your business and show people the impact you’re making? 

Let’s start thinking about the action steps required for you to achieve your goals, and be committed to taking these action steps no matter what. 

If you have big goals, you need to take responsibility for your goals and put in the time, energy, and effort necessary for those goals. 

This is the time to be disciplined, not to your comfort zone, but be disciplined to your goals, and start stepping outside of your comfort zone and making progress towards the income and impact you’re meant to make in this world.

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