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In my work, I’ve encountered four self-sabotaging behaviors that often impact women entrepreneurs. Instead of letting them hold you back, here’s what to look for — and how to push past them.

By Sabrina Philipp

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Success comes in waves — one minute you’re rolling, the next, you’re crashing — and you need both skills and resilience to ride the surf. If you’re looking to make success your default setting, the first place to look for answers and areas of improvement is always inward.

Self-sabotage is an all-too-common reason why women-owned businesses struggle to rise. Even when you consciously want the best for your business, fear of failure can trick you into choosing the path of least resistance. And as a result? I’ve seen countless women entrepreneurs continue to play small when they have the potential to make it big.

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Related: Why the World Needs More Entrepreneurial Women in Leadership

In my work, I’ve encountered four self-sabotaging behaviors that often impact women entrepreneurs. Instead of letting them hold you back, here’s what to look for — and how to push past them:

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1. You focus too much on the details

If you’re the kind of CEO who gets stuck on the details rather than moving the needle, you’re likely stalling your success. This type of self-sabotage can manifest in sneaky ways because it often feels justified. Although worrying about perfecting your brand messaging or wanting to make “one final edit” to your website before going live might feel productive, it’s really a way to procrastinate on making progress.

What to do instead: Every minute you spend sweating the small stuff is a minute you could be honing, developing, marketing or selling your offers. Zoom out and look at your time objectively. Where is your zone of genius? Which tasks can you delegate to a team member? It’s all about intentionality.

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2. You wait until you’re ready

In the online business space, one of the most common ways to slow down your success is through “procrasti-learning” — particularly if you don’t have a wealth of education and experience in your chosen field. It’s easy to feel like a new course or certification will give you the qualifications necessary to be taken seriously and reach success. In reality? It’s hard to match learning by doing.

What to do instead: There is certainly a time and place for personal development, but if you’re holding back on launching a new product or service because you feel the need to earn another accreditation before you do, you’re likely suffering from imposter syndrome.

The truth is you’ll never feel fully ready to put theory into practice until you decide that you’re qualified and certified enough to succeed. Stop putting conditions on your success, and get out there to claim it.

Related: Imposter Syndrome Will Kill Your Business

3. You’re afraid to succeed

Everybody has heard of the fear of failure, but a fear of success is just as prevalent among entrepreneurs — especially women. Women have been conditioned by society to play small, and being successful feels like the antithesis of that conditioning. As your audience grows and your revenue soars, you might feel tempted to play it safe and settle for mediocre results.

What to do instead: No matter what stage of business you’re currently in, it’s important to take ownership of your mindset. Where are you leaning into familiar patterns, such as acting on limiting beliefs around money or struggling to hold onto success because you never believed you were worthy of it? If you want to reap big rewards, you have to start paying attention to the thoughts that keep you playing small.

4. You’re not thinking like a CEO

As a business owner, you’re likely well-versed in linear progression routes, reasonable and achievable financial targets, and highly competitive sales tactics. Although this might seem like a strength, it may also be your setback — being in business means thinking outside of the box, removing the limits of what’s “realistic” and choosing to do things differently. That’s the belief system that sets entrepreneurs apart from employees — and the very reason why you decided to quit your 9-5 and give your business idea a shot.

What to do instead: One of my unexpected advantages as a young business owner was that I didn’t come into this world pre-conditioned by corporate patterns. My willingness to stretch targets and set higher rates is a huge part of what led me to become a self-made millionaire at 23 years old. It’s time to remind yourself of the reasons why you became an entrepreneur in the first place — and start making executive decisions to match.

Related: Why You Need to Think Outside the Box

It’s possible to move past a plateau and achieve everything you set out to do — but first, you need to take an honest look inside yourself, reflect on your beliefs and behaviors and let go of the ones that no longer serve you. From there, you can unblock your growth path once and for all — and watch your business succeed.


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