Nine effective ways to build ‘thicker skin’ as an entrepreneur

Everyone struggles with self-doubt at some point in their lives, especially if they have a business. Doubting yourself as a business owner can be daunting to overcome and can sometimes distract you from your goals. But part of being an entrepreneur is learning how to get thick-skinned to handle the adversity, rejection, and low self-esteem that often come with work.

To ease these common feelings, nine members of Council for Young Entrepreneurs offer their best advice for becoming more resilient as an entrepreneur and why it has worked for them over the years.

1. Separate your self-esteem from your business

Learning to separate my self-esteem from my company’s performance and myself as a business leader was crucial to me. This point of view has helped me take a healthier view of my desk—and, as a result, make better business decisions. Most of the unnecessary emotions calmed down once I began to properly separate my work and private life. I grew my social circle outside of work. I redefined what achievement and success looked like to me. I’ve learned to be kind to myself. Don’t get me wrong, as an entrepreneur you can’t help but be very passionate about what you do, but over time you realize that a healthy balance is the key to success. † Daria GonzalezWonder dogs

2. Compare the two versions of you

Everyone faces rejection, self-doubt and low self-confidence at one time or another. These are an essential part of every human being’s journey. But over the years, I’ve come to understand that you can easily overcome this negativity by comparing the two different versions of you: one in the present and the other 10 years ago. You will see how much you have grown and what you have achieved. It is a very good way to build self confidence and encourage self motivation. † Josh KohlbachWholesale Suite

3. Realize you can’t please everyone

Understand that you cannot please everyone. Some people will say your product doesn’t work or leave a negative review. Remind yourself that rejections and self-doubts are opportunities to grow. Analyze what happened and learn from the way you handled the situation. Over time, you’ll learn that your product or service isn’t for everyone, and dwelling on an incident for a long time won’t solve anything. Unfortunately, the best way to gain thick skin is to experience rejection and self-doubt. Every entrepreneur has to deal with this at some point. Experience is truly the best teacher; see this as an opportunity to learn and grow new things. † Nick VendittiaStitchGolf

4. Make yourself uncomfortable

Adopt ‘discomfort’. This is the habit of making me feel uncomfortable, which I have been doing for years and now studying for my Ph.D. work. When you proactively participate in uncomfortable experiences, you build a force field around your ego, prejudices and fears. It’s the most powerful exercise I’ve discovered that rewards you with resilience, confidence, and deep humility. Awkward experiences can include speaking on a stage, having a big showdown, doing something you’re objectively bad at, or surrounding yourself with people who think radically different from you. I’ve done dozens of them and can’t underestimate the rewards. † Beck BambergerBAM

5. Set a time limit for grieving

You can briefly mourn any rejection, but do not wallow. First, wallowing is not dignified. You don’t want to spend an inordinate time lamenting a rejection when you can put that time into your business or the people in your life. Set a time limit for grieving when a dream project or investor fails you. Then get back up, do some self-care and chase the next investor. Strive for constant improvement without getting burned out. Take breaks where you can and keep track of your successes. † Duran Incic Optimal7

6. Focus on growing

My advice is to never stop growing. All those setbacks, rejections, and self-doubts can be dealt with in two ways: you can give in to them and get discouraged every time, or see them as opportunities for growth. When you get rejected, analyze why it happened, correct and approach someone else with a new offer. When you don’t feel confident, try to understand what is causing this feeling, find the shortcoming and work hard to improve it. It is essentially a matter of attitude and hard work. And don’t take everything personally. While your business is a big part of your life, it’s not who you are. † Solomon ThimotheusOneIMS

7. Reconnect with your ‘why’

With a “thick skin” you only get so far. It can help you deal with adversity, rejection, self-doubt and low self-confidence to some degree and for a time, but true freedom to pursue your passion and achieve your goals lies in being deeply rooted in your ‘why’. What was it that prompted you to take this path in the first place? What makes you show up every day, even on the hardest days? Reconnecting with your “why” gives you the confidence and resilience you need to keep moving forward, no matter the obstacles. † Blair ThomaseMerchantBroker

8. Let go of perfection

A great way to develop thick skin is to understand the difference between being perfect and striving for perfection. One is feasible and the other is not. If you get stuck in the mindset that you have to be perfect, you will fail. Assuming that you will always be perfect and have to show that to everyone while being tough is wrong because it’s not possible. It makes all the negativity that comes your way that much harder to deal with. Work hard and strive for perfection, but remember that perfection probably isn’t possible and you’ll do your best. † Zane StevensProtea Financial

9. Think about your successes

When I go through periods of self-doubt that entrepreneurs experience from time to time, I think back to all the successes I’ve had in business. This helps me to remember that I am capable of taking on any challenge and achieving anything I set my mind to. It also helps to pass the time; after a few days or weeks I often notice that my self-doubt has disappeared and I am able to think more clearly about the situation. Experience and reflection are two of the best ways to doubt yourself as an entrepreneur. Plus, building a supportive network of family, friends, and mentors who believe in you can also provide a much-needed boost of confidence during difficult times. † Blair WilliamsMembers Press