What are self-limiting beliefs and how do they impact your business - Phil Drinkwater Coach

What are self-limiting beliefs and how do they impact your business

Whether you’re a manager or a leader, understanding the role of self-limiting beliefs has a huge impact on your business growth. Find out how.
What we'll cover


Every business owner will face self-limiting beliefs in their career. Self-limiting beliefs are negative thoughts and ideas you have about your abilities, your company’s ability to succeed, or the market demand for your product. The worst part is that these self-limiting beliefs can become a reality if left unchecked.

If you’re convinced that nobody wants what you’re selling, it’s easy to spend too much time on the wrong marketing channels since there’s little point in putting effort towards attracting customers who are never going to buy anything from you anyway.

What is a self-limiting belief?

A self-limiting belief is something you tell yourself that has a negative impact on your business. It could be anything from “My customers don’t want my products” to “I’m not smart enough to start my own business.” The key thing to note is that it is a negative thought or idea you have about yourself.

You may find that the person who sets this limiting belief in motion – us – will make some of these statements, sometimes without realising they are self-limiting.

What does self-limiting mean? It means you are limiting yourself with this thought. You are boxing yourself in.

Some of the most common self-limiting beliefs in business

  1. “Nobody wants what I’m selling.”
  2. “It’s impossible to succeed as a business owner.”
  3. “I’ll never be able to pay my bills from this business.”
  4. “This product is too complicated for most people.”
  5. “I’m not good at running a company.”
  6. “There’s not enough room in the market for another competitor.
  7. “I should probably just quit now before I lose any more money.”
  8. “The government is going to shut me down at any moment anyway.”
  9. “Nobody will ever want to do business with me again.”
  10. “My employees don’t care about the company and are lazy and stupid.”
  11. “I’ve been doing this for years, and I’ll fail eventually.”
  12. “This market is oversaturated already, and I’m too late to the game.”
  13. “I don’t have enough experience yet, and I should wait until I do before trying this myself.”

Your mind and its beliefs

You may believe that some of these statements are factual. Maybe you had some past experiences that told you that you would never be able to achieve success.

Only a small number of us have the experience and knowledge required to be successful on our own in business. And if we are all in the same boat, then who is going to stand out as an expert and get heard? The first person who has the guts to take risks and break with tradition will generally become successful or fail fast.

Your subconscious mind

Your subconscious mind (or unconscious mind) will believe whatever you tell it, or how you act, so make sure you’re not telling it to believe something that will hold your business back from reaching its full potential. The first step is recognising these self-limiting beliefs and then actively working towards replacing them with positive, productive thoughts.

Your mindset doesn’t need to change overnight just because you realise what’s going on. Keep in mind that your subconscious mind is more powerful than you realise, so you will need to be consistent and diligent in replacing your negative self-limiting thoughts with more realistic ones.

I strongly suggest that you keep a diary of any self-limiting statements, unhelpful beliefs or events that happen; this will help you to spot a recurring negative thought pattern that you can address.

This could be as mild as “I’m not making enough money,” or it could be as drastic as “I’m sick of running this business, I’ll give it up at the first opportunity.”

Listening to your self talk (your inner voice, or what you tell yourself) can give you real clues to what you’re thinking, how your mind is working, and what problems you might have.

If you don’t believe me, try living in a continuous state of self-doubt for a week and see how it goes. You’ll find yourself constantly sabotaging the success of every opportunity that comes your way because you’re not letting go of your negative beliefs. The good news is that this state isn’t permanent.

Once you start believing that something will happen or stop believing something won’t happen, it either happens, or it doesn’t. There’s no stopping the success that can come out of having positive thoughts about your business and future opportunities.

Our mind is very subtle too. Have you ever found yourself wondering if you’d succeed at one task, while on another task you just knew you were going to succeed? It may be there’s a self-limiting belief holding you back from the task you were wondering about.

Turning toward positive self talk

Positive self talk is a great way to turn this around. Think about what you want your business to be like in the future and use that as a starting point rather than making generalisations based on your current situation. Imagine how amazing it would feel if all of these statements were true. Then replace “I can’t” with “I will,” or “it’s impossible” with “it’s possible”.

You might also find you struggle with confidence in leadership. This can also be overcome by replacing negative thought patterns with more positive ones.

After all, confidence in leadership comes from a belief in yourself and what you’re capable of. It’s not just self-belief and a sense of feeling good about yourself; it’s something that you must be able to believe and act on. This can become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Affirmations to the rescue

Positive affirmations (short, positive, present tense statements about what you want in life) can also be very useful when it comes to self-confidence. Give some statements a shot and notice the difference. They can make all the difference because rather than coming from a place of negative thinking, you’ll be coming from a place of positive thinking.

Affirmations that are directed at your goals, hopes, wishes and aspirations and will help to create more positive self-belief.

We can do (nearly) anything

The reality is, if I look at myself, I won’t make a good singer because my voice is terrible, but outside of a few vocations, I could choose to do pretty much whatever I like. You can too.

If you believe that you’re capable of a certain goal, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to achieve that goal. If you believe in yourself, your confidence just comes naturally. This is how confidence grows and develops over time by practising it, like all other skills. The positive outcomes for your life can be truly limitless.

Confidence in leadership is something that anyone can develop once they know the underlying concepts and how to apply them within their business environment. You don’t have to be a natural-born leader or exceptional at something in order to have good leadership qualities.

To finish

Confidence is a combination of belief in yourself and others. If you don’t believe that people want to follow you, then why would they? If you don’t believe in yourself, why would anyone else?

Confidence is something that we all need in life. It’s not just for personal development, but also for our personal wellbeing as well.

Confidence helps us to persevere and stay motivated throughout challenging times. And self-limiting beliefs are purely about a lack of self-belief or self-confidence. By being confident, we can overcome such self-limiting beliefs and create new positive beliefs that are empowering to us.

Confidence can be developed and increased over time, by building up a bank of positive results to refer back to whenever you need a confidence boost. By consistently practising confidence skills, you can develop yourself as a truly confident person. You may need to work on different areas of your life from time to time, but with repetition and patience, anything is possible. Enjoy the positive change that comes with this.

So, leave the old belief behind. Embrace personal development and you can have the life you want as a successful business owner.

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