Deciding to start your own business is a brave decision. Even though you made that decision yourself and you are comfortable you did so, there can be some moments of doubts along the way. These moments of doubts, uncertainties, fear, even anxiety are normal because you are about to start something you have no idea it will work yet. You are probably scared of failure, scared of the unknown, scared not to be skilled enough, nervous of revealing to the world a new side of you, and let it be exposed to others’ opinions. There could be a lot of reasons.
In this article, I will share with you my experience to combat anxiety when starting a business. I will go in-depth about methods for the specific topic of starting a business. For tips and advice on handling stress and anxiety in your day-to-day life, I have another post coming up.
First off, understand that our brain is wired to react to risk by activating fear. It acts as a protective mechanism. It comes from our deep nature, back when we were cavemen. If a mammoth were to stampede us, that fear mechanism helped us to run away! Once you understood that fear was a helpful mechanism, you can start trying to make it work positively for you.
The right thing to do is to recognize the emotion and activate the process to let go of the negative energy. Fear will always be part of the journey but bear in mind the end goal, which is to learn to develop the right reactions towards this type of emotion in order to navigate through these times and become stronger instead of sabotaging yourself.
1 – Install your vision
Fear comes from a place of scarcity. It means that your brain envisions a dark future with the worst outcomes, ie. perhaps with failure, debts, a sense of loneliness…
Now, train your brain to position yourself in a place of abundance. Instead of fear and negative outcome, envision a bright future. A bright future filled with success, accomplishment, and a sense of serenity. See it, feel it, sense it. The fear will simply go away.
Still skeptical? Well, imagine you would know in advance that it will all work out great for you, you would not be worried, right? Well, we use the same mechanism here, just training the brain to feel that sense of calm ahead of time.
To deeply install your vision, I even recommend to use a vision board and be as descriptive as possible. What is success, happiness, and fulfillment for you? So that whenever your brain starts wandering off, you can go back visually to it.
2 – Worst-Case Scenario
Spend a little bit of time figuring out each outcome, an really imagine the worst-case scenario. What would it be for you?
Would it be downsizing your car and eventually get a second-hand one? Would it be to move from a big house to a smaller one, or an apartment?
For me, it would be to be able to live my place and go back live at my parents so that I don’t have rent to pay. And extreme worst case, I’d have to go back and look for a corporate job.
The technique will benefit you in two ways:
- First, it will have you work even harder to prevent it from happening
- Second, once you know exactly what worst-case scenario is, it gives you some level of comfort because you simply realize that the world is not going to end and you are going to be ok.
3 – Knowing that failing is not YOU ARE FAILURE
Let me start by sharing this simple but powerful quote:
Failure is not the opposite of success, it is part of success.
The road to success is a bumpy one; the most important is to get back up after each unsuccessful attempt. And once again this requires courage and mental strength which by definition can’t make you a failure!
Additionally, remember that it is not until you take the step that you know if something works or not. Only the ones who don’t try, don’t fail!
Embrace eventual failure as being part of your journey to success: Failing in one area could be a redirection to what you are really good at. You just can’t see the bigger picture until you are there.
Knowing that makes “failure” less scary.
I also would like to share a quote from Oprah Winfrey in her book The Life, Lessons & Rules for Success which summarizes ideally this concept.
There is no wrong path. There is no such thing as failure, really. Failure is just that thing that is trying to move you in another direction. So you get as much from your losses as you do from your victories because the losses are here to wake you up. Life is bigger than only one experience.Oprah Winfrey
4 – Mel Robbins’ “5-second rule”
I came across this rule during researches about how not to procrastinate. This rule is basic yet very effective.
It basically says that whenever you want to do something but you can’t seem to start, you just start a countdown in your head 5…4…3…2…1! And then you do it.
The counting down process triggers your mind to act on it. And because it is so short of a time, your mind doesn’t have the time to wander off or overthink; you just do it. You stop hesitating and start achieving your goal.
That rule also enables us to feel more in control and as Julian B. Rotter coined in 1954:
The more you believe you are in control of your life, your actions, and your future…the happier and more successful you’ll be.
Long story short, if we feel more in control overall, we feel more confident.
5 – Focus on the next best move
Forget about you 100 things “To-Do List”. It is easy to feel overwhelmed if you have hundreds of To-dos and don’t know where to start. If you overwhelm yourself, you will ultimately feel nervous, stressed and not healthy.
Instead set yourself goals and break in down into small steps. Then, take it a step at a time.
Remember the basic rule of SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound).
For instance: “get rich quick” is not a SMART goal.
“Set a Google Adwords campaign by the end of the day” is.
The small steps of that goal would be:
- Open a Google Adwords Account
- Identify the audience
- Search keywords
- Write the ad
- Launch it
Remember every journey starts with one first step, and that step is the most difficult one. Once you started, then it’s just easier to keep on going.
6 – Find your Tribe / Community
Your tribe could be in the form of friends, family members but it can be challenging to find people who can relate if you are the first one amongst your friends and family who is going through the entrepreneurial journey. It can be tough to actually get people to believe in what you are doing and actually support you.
But nowadays, we have unprecedented opportunities to find communities of like-minded people on the internet. Just search the web for communities in the field of what keeps you up at night. You can look at websites, blogs, Facebook groups… and reach out!
When I started to really dig into personal development programs, I just found a wide array of people to share thoughts with. And they have been a tremendous help pushing me to become a better version of myself. This by sharing ideas, keeping me accountable…
So, find your tribe and you will have a safe place to discuss your challenges and fears.
The entrepreneurial journey is one that is very exciting, full of learnings both on a personal and professional level…but it is also a challenging not linear one. You are committing yourself, investing time, money, and effort…it is normal to feel anxious sometimes.
Now you have some tools to keep the stress under control and keep on with the great job you are doing.
When I joined the SFM, additionally to a great digital skills education, I found an awesome community who has supported me and inspired me to always push my limits. Find more about the SFM community here.
What about you? Do you have any tips you want to share to add to this article?