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Making the most of your talents as you build your business

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by Startacus Admin


Exceeding expectations in your work can help you tap into your inner potential; Aine O’Neill of Toastmasters International shares some insights on doing just that.

As a startup founder you know you will find yourself being challenged as you pitch to investors and build your business.  

pexels-karolina-grabowska-5882683However, even as a driven entrepreneur, you may have some limiting preconceptions about yourself and your abilities. There will be testing moments when you need to push yourself, use your innate talents and bring your true potential to the fore.

If you cast your mind back, can you recall moments when you have overcome the odds? Achieved more than you had hoped for?  And surprised the people around you?  A few such times spring to mind for me.  My teachers were astounded when I was able to pull off an excellent role in a school play, when I was given the part the day before its first performance.  I saw similar shock when my peers saw me land on solid ground at the culmination of a paraglide high up in the mountains.

Going beyond expectations

What did colleagues and friends say after these events?  “That was a surprise. I didn’t know you had it in you!”

I don’t know how you felt at moments like this but what struck me here is that I did know I had it in me. The challenges I was presented with had reached inside and pulled my ability out for the whole world to see. The genuine expression of surprise got me thinking that so many of us could tragically go through life without showing our inner talents simply because they either haven’t had the chance to shine through or weren’t brave enough to reveal them to the world. 

Why hadn’t others seen this side of me before? Reality is perception based and grounded in our social interactions. When assessing others, we ask ourselves do they fit our version of normality? Do they act, speak, behave and dress as we believe they should? We make split-second decisions and then categorise them. This judgement is mirrored onto our peers and consequently our version of ourselves becomes a mixture of who we think we are and who other people think we are. This can mean that we limit what we put out to the world, which will have a knock-on effect on the development of a startup.

Overcoming self-doubt

To have any chance of changing this self-perception and tapping into our inner potential startup founders need two essential things: opportunity and bravery.

By their very nature opportunities come from an external source and present themselves unexpectedly. In the moment, we may feel unprepared to take them on. We could miss the window of opportunity, leaving us with feelings of regret and frustration that we didn’t have the necessary gumption to take the plunge.

pexels-canva-studio-315320The big obstacle most people (including entrepreneurs) face when deciding to take up an opportunity is self-doubt. So how can you overcome this and allow your true potential to take centre stage? The solution lies in garnering your inner strength so that you overcome any hesitation and go for it. This is the second element in the equation.

It's worth remembering that during these moments our feelings can form a pattern. When an opportunity calls to you, you are likely to feel hope and enthusiasm initially. However, self-doubt is often close at hand. It can react like a poison ivy, stifling your courage as it begins to surface. I like to compare this situation to the first flight of a fledgling bird. It musters the strength to take off only to waver and dip sharply. However, very soon it learns to glide and eventually begin to soar into the sky. During such times it is important to hold your nerve until you get through the pattern of feelings.

To help you progress I suggest the following:

  • Seize the moment and give opportunities a go. Even if things don’t go exactly to plan you will learn and grow as an entrepreneur. 

  • Visualise a successful outcome. Think of the benefits a particular event or your startup will create. How will your self-perception change? 

  • Ask yourself if it is fear of failure or success that is really playing on your mind. Are you comfortable in your self-image no matter how limiting it is?

  • Build on any positive experiences (however small) that you have had in the past. Write down how you mastered the various tasks involved. Note any struggles you had and what steps you took to overcome them. 

  • Look to successful business founders that you admire and learn from them. If they’ve written autobiographies, read them to understand their experiences and what they did to overcome the challenges they faced.

  • If you feel as though you have taken on a mountain, break your challenge down into smaller chunks and work on them, one at a time. 

Having pushed through periods of self-doubt you will become more accustomed to your new role as a startup founder. Fear will melt away. You can then continue to build your store of experiences and fully harness the power of your true potential.


Aine O’Neill is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit

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Published on: 28th June 2022

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