October 20, 2016

The 10 Most Destructive Lies Business Owners Tell Themselves


We talk to ourselves constantly. Okay, maybe not literally, but the psychological phenomenon of self-talk is real and it can have a major bearing on your life, moods and even your professional performance. Self-talk can manifest as reactions to certain events and situations. For example, you might think “that was a dumb mistake” or “this is going to be awesome,” and these thoughts generally have an effect on how you perceive the event in question. They can also manifest as assumptions, in the short-term or long-term, about different aspects of your life and business.

There’s no question that business owners lie to themselves, often knowingly, but some lies are innocuous. Others, like these 10, are destructive and should be avoided at all costs.

Lies Business Owners Tell

My Customers are Going to Love This

This lie stems from your own personal biases. You came up with the idea for your business (or product), so of course you’re going to love it! That doesn’t mean everyone else in your target audience is going to, and assuming that’s the case may set you up for failure. If you don’t have any objective data backing this statement, you’re lying to yourself.

Everything Will Work Out

It won’t. Not if you allow things to continue as they are. There’s this persistent myth that businesses succeed because they had a good idea and a good system. Then they just waited for everything else to fall in place. This isn’t true. Successful businesses have to experiment, tinker, and evolve constantly. You have to put in the effort if you want to succeed.

I Can Always Change This Later

This can be true, depending on the context, but it’s not a line of thinking you want to apply to many areas of your business. Assuming you’ll be able to change something later gives you a lower threshold for quality, meaning you’ll start off with a weaker strategy. And thanks to procrastination, you’ll probably end up never changing it anyway. Start strong if you want to finish strong.

I Don’t Have to Worry About This Yet

There are many reasons for procrastination, and some of them are actually pretty good. However, when you delay a task, the indefiniteness of “I’ll worry about that later” can set you up for a perpetual cycle of delay. Instead, if you don’t have time to do something, either schedule a concrete time to do it in the future, or delegate it to someone else.

I Have to Do This Myself

Entrepreneurs love to get their hands dirty, and many take it as a point of pride. You might convince yourself that you’re the only one with the skill set or experience to handle a certain task, or that if you don’t do this yourself, you’ll lose control of your business. However, it’s unlikely that these things are true. Learn to let go, and trust your teammates to help you out.

I Don’t Have Time

Entrepreneurship is demanding. It takes a heavy investment of time and effort to see any progress, so many business owners end up putting off or ignoring other aspects of their life — like family, friends and leisure time. Trust me, you need to make time for these things, or you’ll regret it later.

I Just Have to Work Harder

Working harder isn’t always the best approach, just like hitting your head against a brick wall with more force isn’t going to help you tear it down. Instead, opt for smarter, more innovative solutions to your problems. Putting in more hours with a “brute force” style will leave you burned out and frustrated.

This Could Never Work

This lie often stems from preconceived notions about different strategies. You might hear an idea for the first time and immediately write it off as impractical or useless, or you might be presented with a strategy that didn’t work out well for you in the past and assume it could never work out. It’s important to be open to new ideas, especially since many strategies can be feasible as long as you use the right approach.

All I Need Is _____

Businesses are ridiculously complicated, and even to the most seasoned, successful entrepreneurs in the world, they’re somewhat unpredictable. There are too many variables for you to definitively boil down any problem to a single factor. If you give yourself this problem-solving tunnel vision, you could wind up ignoring the factors that are actually responsible for your predicament. Know that every problem is complex, and no one fix will solve everything.

No One Understands

Entrepreneurship can be painfully lonely. Because you’re working long hours, you’re in an isolated position, and you have to put on a “brave” face for your employees and clients, you might find yourself thinking that nobody understands the stresses you’re dealing with. This weighs heavily on the mind. But don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re alone. Connect with other entrepreneurs and open up about your experiences.

Don’t feel ashamed if you lie to yourself. In fact, if you don’t, you’re in the minority. Some lies are important to reframe your expectations, help you think more positively and direct your line of thought to something more productive. However, don’t let yourself get caught in a trap of unproductive self-deception. Keep your thoughts and assumptions in check by remaining as objective as possible in your business.

Fingers Crossed Photo via Shutterstock

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Timothy Carter

Timothy Carter Timothy Carter is the Director of Business Development for the Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency, AudienceBloom. When Timothy isn't telling the world about the great work his company does, he's planning his next trip to Hawaii while drinking some Kona coffee.

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2 Reactions

  1. “I Have to Do This Myself”. The same about me. I prefer doing everything on my own. That gives me confidence in what I’m doing and certainty that things will go exactly the way I want them to go. But that might be really exhausting some of the time, so I need to learn how to “trust my teammates to help me out” – Good advice!

  2. I’ve been fighting with procrastination my whole life and the only thing that worked for me is doing small tasks that take less than 5 minutes right away and applying procrastination bulldozer method, which has helped me a lot.

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