Entrepreneurship is not easy, and it is not for everyone. The reason lies in the exact quote: putting Sundays in the same phrase as Fridays. Just as this award-winning article on Inc. states, there is a psychological cost involved when having your own business. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index shows that 34% of entrepreneurs reported high anxiety levels. That’s 4% more than employees. And 45% of entrepreneurs said they experience stress very often. That’s another 3% more than other workers. So things got real. And it’s okay; there are ways to deal with them.
Check out these 10 entrepreneurial stress scenarios and solutions.
Identifying The Triggers and Solutions
The first thing to keep in mind is to identify early-stage triggers. Here are things that can cause you pain and uneasiness, and this is how to deal with them:
1. Impossibility to differentiate between private and business life
The problem: Sometimes, having a home-based business can be too big of a burden. While you don’t have to pay for an office downtown, and save time with commuting, it can turn against you if you don’t stick to a routine or schedule. Don’t get buried in work at home just because you can do it all day, all night.
Solutions: Ideally, get an office close to your home. Walk there or bike instead of taking your personal car, Uber, or public transportation. This will help you separate your office life from your private one. If you don’t want to give up your home-based office, then create a schedule and stick to it. This means, taking a day off at least once a week. This habit will have great benefits for the brain and productivity – backed by research.
2. Not having a private life at all
The problem: We tend to withdraw from social life under the premise of attributing the right focus to our businesses. While being focused is a great business practice, it can backfire if done in an exhaustive manner. We all need moments with friends, family and loved ones; they help us go through rough times and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Solutions: Social aspects are imperative to a healthy lifestyle and can help relief stress. More vacations and parties with family and friends. This is a good way to resuscitate your social circles. Reconnect with college or high school former colleagues. Go to networking events in your city and in other cities. If you’re single, don’t be afraid to date and ask people out – the worst thing that can happen is you get to discover another human being, which is not so bad!
3. Failure and self-doubt
The problem: In your entrepreneurial journey, expect to fail and fail again. But do not fear the word “failure.” Failure is the source of your lessons and knowledge. Don’t let your doubts get in the way. It’s not a matter of “not being good enough,” but rather of growth and learning.
Solutions: Self-doubt is something you have to work on yourself. The best way to do it is through self-rediscovery, which can be difficult to achieve when in physical proximity to your business HQs. Join a yoga or meditation camp outside the city. Go backpacking or hitchhiking. Mountains or the seaside in an off-season can provide a huge reset button and help your mind relax. Enthusiastic travelers can enjoy this summer end’s 20% off sale from EagleCreek. The main idea? Whatever you decide to do, and wherever you choose to go, book two weeks off. Period.
4. Bad routines
The problem:: Having a routine can be a double-edged knife. While it can settle things and help you become more organized, sometimes routines can mess up growth opportunities. To give you an example: a bad routine would be driving your car to your office every day. Or checking your email every 30 minutes. Or getting just 4 hours of sleep per night.
Solution: Decrease the number of bad routines and replace them with good ones. An example of a good routine: hydrotherapy every evening, for 30 minutes. This involves creating a relaxation corner in your bathroom (see suggestion below by ACS designer bathrooms) and spending quality quiet time, accompanied by instrumental music, candles, and aromatherapy oils. Allow access to plenty of light and if possible, have it accompanied by a nice window view to a garden or park. Repeat daily.
Other examples include 10 minutes of meditation per day. 30 minutes of daily exercise. Eat three meals per day, your dinner no later than 7pm. Get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night, and go to sleep at approximately the same hour every night.
5. Falling out of love with your passion(s)
The problem: Everyone can fall out of love with their passions. Being “married” to your business doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be any downs along the way.
Solution: When that happens, instead of stressing out, calm down and think of how you can improve your experience. Sometimes, you don’t have to let go of the passion; you just have to rediscover it, or add a complementary one to the bigger picture. Volunteering also helps in the passion rediscovery process, as it is an action not driven by financial means, but by inner motivation.
6. Letting go
The problem: Sometimes you don’t have to let it go. Other times, you do. When you are forced to let go, there is this battle inside between the person who wants to keep things as they are and the leader who wants to break from the chains. This also applies when you have to fire great people (see what Moz had to say about letting go of 28% of their staff) or give up good clients.
Solution: Surround yourself with people who understand that this is the best decision, whether it concerns you or your employees/clients. In dealing with loss of any nature, the cycle of recovery is to: 1) Let go., 2) Accept, 3) Forgive (yourself), 4) Move on. Don’t let your world end after the first. Carry on, be open to new challenges!
7. Losing synchronization with your clients/associates
The problem: When your business is more than just a product/service/both, the main direction is creating long-term collaborations with your customers and community. Sometimes, however, things don’t go as planned. Even a business relationship that has history can fall apart.
Solution: If you’re falling out of sync with a client or an associate, discuss and be transparent about your feelings. A business relationship that stopped working can become a huge stress factor. Solving it usually comes from both parties. It won’t work if only one side makes the effort.
8. Losing interest in a project
The problem: It’s not just the clients you can fall out of sync with. Or the business partners. Or the team. It’s also the projects. Some ideas just don’t motivate the entrepreneur in you or are not aligned with your core focus. If you’ve lost interest for a topic, don’t let it become an element of displeasure in your life.
Solution: First, inform the other party about your feelings toward the project. Then, transform the process, from management changes, to tools, communication channels, an upgrade on expectations, mission and vision. Try new approaches. If nothing can trigger a solution, walk away, but not before recommending someone else for the task.
Remember to always leave room for friendship. This project may be a goner, but the future is bright.
9. Public “judgment day”
The problem: The way people see and talk about you can become quite stressful. As entrepreneurs and leaders, we are often viewed as examples for the communities we are part of. Not only that, but it can feel like failure is not an option. Somehow, because you are in control of your business, people will not allow you to screw up. And when you do, people start talking, analyzing, and mentioning you in their “mistakes to avoid” round-ups on websites and social media. How can you deal with that?
Solution: Don’t fear what people have to say about your successes and failures. People will talk. And there’s nothing you can do to change their mind. Like Socrates once said, “Strong minds discuss ideas, weak minds discuss people.” I would add: Strong people are not afraid to show their vulnerabilities in public. And, to ease out the stress, just have a good laugh about it. It helps!
10. Financial stress
The problem: Sometimes, not getting it right can have a huge impact on your finances, especially when you bet everything on one business idea. As this entrepreneur says, “Debt doesn’t make you a good entrepreneur, and you need to get out of it asap.” But that shouldn’t stop you from trying. Sometimes, debt can be a huge motivator, though not an ideal one, in getting things done.
Solution: Start by clearly evaluating what you can do to minimize costs. Whether it’s cutting staff numbers or giving up on fat salary flyers for yourself, buying cheaper technology or repurposed equipment, you do what you have to do to get out of financial struggles. 1% reduction of debt means earning an extra percent for a clear mind. While not advisable to go fully optimistic and ignore your problems, it doesn’t hurt having a bit of hope that things are going the right way. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Nowadays, there are crowdfunding alternatives, Kiva being one of them for micro-entrepreneurs.
So Where Does This Leave Us?
Entrepreneurial stress is a reality, whether we like it or not. And, as with any reality, the best possible way to deal with it is to accept it and find solutions that can improve it. There are many stories out there about entrepreneurs who had it extremely rough in the beginning. That doesn’t mean yours should be just as tough too.
But hey, if that happens, you’ll just come out stronger.
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