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Is company failure in your head?

A HIGH number of small businesses that go to the wall do so because of self-sabotage, according to a leading clinical psychologist.

While the recession has undoubtedly finished off a lot of firms, Dr Michael Paterson believes many business failures can be attributed to their owners having negative self belief, linked to early life experiences.

This can manifest as procrastination, fear of failure, fear of success, and worthlessness, even among high-functioning and high achieving individuals, the leading psychologist said.

"Many people in our culture have a belief of not being good enough, usually stemming from childhood," he said.

"If you think about business failures, 80% fail in the first five years. Of that 80%, many don't think they will succeed in the first place. Others have a hard time coping as a business grows because they can't do it all themselves."

Dr Paterson, a former police officer, lost both arms in an IRA rocket attack on his armoured vehicle in 1981.

He later trained as a clinical psychologist and was last year awarded the OBE for his contribution to healthcare in Northern Ireland.

He is currently running a six-part personal development course to help participants from the business community put in place systems that let them set and achieve their goals.

"Self sabotage can set in if people have this belief that they don't deserve to be successful. Many people have a belief of failure and will create the circumstances of that belief in one way or another. We see it time and again.

"Understanding what makes them tick and what would stop them achieving their goals can stop that from happening," he said.

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