Are you an entrepreneur? Anxiety can cripple an entrepreneur’s dreams. Your ability to control and master your emotional state will absolutely impact your ability to get your venture off the ground.
When you hear stories about “entrepreneurs who’ve failed” or “how difficult it is in the current economic climate” it is very easy (and natural) to question your ability to be successful. When this happens anxiety can rear its disempowering head, and when it strikes it impacts your energy, your charisma, your confidence, and how you come off to others (which can really derail your ability to recruit team members, or obtain the confidence of investors).
Anxiety can be managed however, and here are 6 ways to do it:
1. Make a specific plan and execute it.
The best plans are specific and have deadlines. They set out a set of actionable items that you can perform. When you are immersed in activity you hit a state of “flow” and lose consciousness of your self. This causes your anxiety to fade. Chunk out all the actions that you can take in the next month, three months and six months. The less time you are in “your head” the better you’ll be able to control your anxiety. Do what author Steven Pressfield in his best seller The War Of Art calls “defeating resistance” – every day take action.
2. Be flexible in your approach.
Even though you need specific action plans to hold anxiety at bay, if you approach your plan with rigidity it can increase your anxiety. So be flexible in your approach. You’re trying to get feedback as quickly as possible. You are trying to find out what is working and what isn’t. So if it becomes clear that you made an inaccurate assumption, or the advice that you got from another entrepreneur doesn’t apply to your market, then dump it. Move on, and do so quickly. Make a new plan and get back to work.
3. Embrace market feedback
The market is your best friend. It is the only “real” thing that you have. Your hopes and dreams, and all the well meaning advice in the world isn’t as valuable as the real data that you are getting from the marketplace. This is why seeking market feedback at the early stages is so valuable. Your idea (and product) will be measured by the marketplace, and through this process (provided you are open to feedback) you can learn and improve. When you are improving you feel good, this fights your anxiety.
4. Expedite the learning process and improve every day
Try to learn as quickly as possible. Yes, “failure can be feedback”, but too much failure can be terminal. Your business will last only as long as you can feed it (and that takes money) and if you run out of money before your product or service is producing an operating cash flow then your “failure as feedback” is of limited value. So learn as quickly as possible. Up the intensity of your initial viable product launch. The quick feedback will help you understand how to steer and this will help any anxiety you may feel. When you get feedback immediately implement improvements.
5. Surround yourself with supportive people
It’s been said that we are the average of the five people that we spend the most time with. I believe this isn’t far from the truth. During the infant stage of your business it’s critical that you surround yourself with people who will lift you up and support you. That former co-worker that does nothing but complain about their job – I’m not saying cut them out of your life, but you need to understand, their emotional state will impact yours. If they are constantly negative you will feel more anxiety about your prospects. Join networking groups with positive entrepreneurs. Create a support network yourself. Their positive state will influence you.
6. Every day, move and breathe
Every day make it a goal to get an endorphin re-charge through cardio exercise and deep breathing. You don’t have to become a marathoner to get results. A good brisk walk will easily do the job. The more you move and breathe the better you’ll feel. Turn it into a habit, and your body will crave the way it feels. Try “walking barefoot in the grass” as best selling author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss advocates. That half hour each day may be the most critical action you take.