Owning your own business has big ups and downs. There are so many rewarding things that comes with it, but also a couple of cons. When you manage your own business, literally EVERYTHING is up to you. You make all of the decisions. You are your own marketing team, creative team, development team, EVERYTHING TEAM. Maybe you outsource some of these things, which is great, but you still oversee aaalllllll of it.
This can be super overwhelming, especially if you’re just starting out. Even if you’re a veteran entrepreneur, this stuff can still feel scary.
I’m right here with you, I see you.
I struggle with anxiety, but over the years I’ve found different ways to manage it–particularly when it comes to my business. Not all of these will resonate with you, and that’s okay. Cherry pick what you think will work for you and give it a try.
Build a Support Network
Many of the anxieties we have are rooted in the fact that we’re seemingly all alone in this. We’re 100% in charge of the success of our business and that can feel debilitating.
Let me say this loud and clear:
YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE.
While it may feel like it, especially if you work from home by yourself, you are not alone. There are thousands of creativeprenuers, makers, yoga teachers, soloprenuers, or otherwise self-employed people. One of the best things I did for my business was find a group of people that were also self-employed. For me, it’s a Facebook group with other creative people I know.
We’re not all local and can’t meet up at the pub on any given evening, but having a support network that can cheer you on, listen to your anxieties, and offer advice is HUGE.
See if you can look up local groups online or search location tags on Instagram to find people you can connect with. Work on building up your support network and share your common experiences with each other.
Write Task Lists
Okay, I know, I know. It’s super obvious. BUT really functional! Anxiety stems from worries or fears about things we think may happen or are going to happen in the future. Creating task lists helps us manage those future things in our business so that we hopefully feel less anxiety and stress about them.
If you’ve never heard of or used the Eisenhower Method for creating and managing your tasks, it’s definitely something to look into! It helps you to sort tasks based on urgency and importance.
Obviously, if you’re a one person runs the whole business sort of person, the delegating quadrant will still be you, but at least you know where it sits in relation to all the other tasks you need to do.
The main idea here is that if you’re a big list builder (like me) then there is probably stuff on there that you don’t actually need to do.
Another idea is to base your task list off of feeling rather than urgency. Brian Tracy has an “Eat that Frog” method that similarly breaks tasks down into four quadrants, but explains it in a weird way where we’re consuming frogs. Which, I don’t know about you–but I don’t really want to eat any frogs (though I understand the analogy he’s trying to make).
His main thing is tackle the most challenging task that you need to do first.
1. Things you don’t want to do, but actually need to do.
2. Things you want to do and actually need to do.
3. Things you want to do, but actually don’t need to do.
4. Things you don’t want to do, and actually don’t need to do.
Prepare for Rejection
We get anxious about things that may or will happen in the future. If we do all that we can (within reason) to prepare for a possible outcome, perhaps we will feel a bit more ready. Perhaps the blow will be softer or we’ll have systems and processes in place that we know we need to do when it happens. Because…it will happen. Someone will come to you for a product or service and say: “No, thanks I’ve found someone/thing else cheaper” or “You’re too expensive” or you’ll just be ghosted by them online.
THIS IS OKAY, YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE BECAUSE OF THIS.
When I receive rejections, this little voice creeps in and says “you’re not worth it, your services are rubbish and no one will ever hire you again.”
Cut that noise out fast.
YOU know your worth. YOU define your worth. If someone rejects your products or services, that is on THEM.
If you know you’re going to feel particularly vulnerable when this happens, have a list that you can refer to of things that make you feel better. Maybe that’s going outside for a walk, binge-watching some tv show, calling a friend, etc. Take some time out to feel those feels and then move on.
Now, I’m going to put my other hat on: the yoga teacher hat.
Pranayama, or breathing exercises, can help you manage and feel more in control with your anxiety.
Try placing one hand on your chest and the other on your belly so you can physically feel your body as you breathe in and out. Notice how your breath is right now. Is it fast, slow, deep, shallow? Does it catch any where?
Now, shift your focus to your exhalations. Start by drawing out your exhales so that they’re a little bit longer. Keep your inhales nice and natural for now. As you continue to lengthen your exhalations, you may notice your inhalations naturally lengthening too. See if you can keep your exhalation about the double the length of your inhalation.
Keep doing this for 10 full breath cycles.
Lengthening your exhalations facilitates a deepening of relaxation by extending the period of parasympathetic activity within each breath. In other words, your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response in your body, is “switched on” when you lengthen your exhalations.
Hopefully some of these tips are useful for you managing anxiety. If you have any others that you keep stored in your toolbox, share them in the comments below. It’s great to pull resources together as a community to more of us can stay sane as soloprenuers.