How do you handle the stress of starting your own business?
I've taken on the project of opening my own business, mostly on my own. I find getting off the ground to be overwhelming sometimes. I read a lot of self-help books, and apparently 'stress' is good and keeps you motivated. If that's the case, how do I turn my stress around and deal with it to help my business grow?
There are actually different levels of stress.
Acute stress which is the stuff of your day to day. In small doses it's quite exciting, but it gets exhausting fast. If this happens on and off, then that's 'normal'. Then there are two other types of stress which you need to pay more attention to: 1) Episodic acute stress, which is where acute stress goes on too long and you basically wind up irritable and tense all the time, and 2) long term chronic stress, which is the misery you can feel when you are stuck in an extremely negative situation over a long period of time (think unhappy marriage, failing business, poverty etc.). If your business stress is in the first category...then there are things you can do for sure, but if it's in either of the last two, I would think about getting some outside support.
If its about how to manage your acute stress, there are some good suggestions below. When I work with clients on stress and energy we talk about 2 main things. Firstly, can you remove the factor that is causing the stress? and, if you cant, (more likely in the case of starting your business) how can you manage your energy levels so that you get less impacted by stressful situations. There are unhelpful ways to manage stress (like drinking and eating a lot) and helpful ways.
My top 3 helpful ways would be:
1) Pay close attention to exercise and diet and sleep. I know, its the old story, but your body and mind are intrinsically linked. Not getting enough sleep in particular has significant impact on your stress level, because sleep has been shown to help you process negative situations and lower your stress level overnight (you can read more here (http://theemotionexperiment.com/2015/07/01/day-4-meditation-sleeping/). Diet can impact your mood (seriously) and so can exercise.. think about all those endorphins! So make time for those things.
2) Find ways to keep situations in perspective. The standard back pocket question of 'a year from now, will I even care about this?' makes sure that you aren't winding yourself up over things that don't warrant the reaction. It can also help to keep track for a while of what is stressing you, so that you can see the patterns in situations that wind you up. We all have hot buttons, part of managing stress is recognizing that a button of yours has been pushed, and choosing to find an alternative view point.
3) Make sure you get down time. Meditation works, but not everyone finds meditation easy. Other more 'accessible' approaches include any hobby which absorbs you in a non work related task -e.g. painting, cooking etc. The purpose is to give the brain time away from worrying about work, where it is absorbed in 'doing' something.
Hope that helps.
Congratulations on starting your business, that's a fantastic accomplishment! Unfortunately, stress is just part of the game -- the difference lies in how you deal with it. First of all, make sure you're taking breaks when you need to, taking good care of yourself and have healthy outlets to blow off the steam. You're going to need them for your sanity. Go running, lift weights, talk with friends, read a book, cook a meal, etc. These may seem like time-wasters when you've got something weighing on your mind but believe me, it will actually help your focus. That 'A-Ha' moment comes when you least expect it.
Secondly, resolve to stay positive. You CAN and WILL succeed. Don't doubt that for a minute. There will be trials and tribulations along the way, but Rome wasn't built in a day and nothing good ever came easy. Surround yourself with good advisors and tap into their wisdom and experiences. Ask for help when you need it. Whatever you do, don't bottle it up. Focus on your end goal and how amazing that will feel when you reach it.
Remember that you only get one pass at life and spending it bogged down in tension won't help you enjoy anything. You don't want to be the person who, at 80, can't remember a chunk of their years because they were fogged over, stressing about one thing or another. Have faith in yourself and maintain perspective.
Hi Daniel. After running my own business 2,5 years now I can share the following insights from my personal experience.
Self development is essential always, it should never stop being something you invest some time in. It happens that all day I am online and working in my SEO stuff, technical and theoretical (following up with every new industry article), and when the night comes I just research articles that are motivational and keep me going. I need both to maintain my balance and keep my "stress" in a level that it can be productive.
Another thing is that I realize I cannot keep in my life anything or anyone that offers me more negativity that positive vibrations. Friends, colleagues, partners, relationships, if they are mostly upsetting rather than empowering they are off the map sincerely.
These two points are my two cents for your question. Take care and stay positive! :)
Daniel, congratulations on the start of an exciting and, yes sometimes stressful journey. Stress comes in two forms, eustress and distress. Eustress is the positive stress and it does indeed motivate. Eustress exhibits itself when we are proactive, that is when we anticipate and prepare (as Neal says, having a plan). The greater your preparation the less likely you are to encounter distress, where you are reacting to a challenge that you did not anticipate. To use a nautical term, set your anchor. The anchor is your goal. The anchor line is the path to the goal. You will not avoid distress all together but you will be less inclined to founder when you do.
Stress is only good if you can use some of it to motivate you to continue growing your business. When it interferes with perspective or starts to be the cause of you losing focus there's nothing good about that kind of stress.
New business owners are often stressed about specific things like getting new clients, being able to juggle multiple roles until they can afford staff, time management and cash flow.
Don't try to do it all alone. Get a mentor or work with a good business coach until you can get everything from mindset to money under control. Best of luck. The right business with the right entrepreneurial set is dynamite!
Daniel, you have some excellent answers - especially Jessica's.
Stress arises when you do not feel that you have sufficient control. Jessica's answers focus on taking back control of your physiology and your mental processes. This leaves two other important areas (the third being your values, which should be squared away nicely if you truly believe in what you are doing. That said, sometimes your value to make your new business work can conflict with a value like giving time to your family, and that can cause stress. I shall assume this is not the case, but do feel free to come back if that is an issue for you.)
So, first, your environment. We often feel our environment is not what we want, which takes the form of anything from having an uncomfortable seat and a small desk and a rubbish view, with no daylight or fresh air imposed on you, to a blasted computer that always crashes and inadequate printing facilities. In your own business you can take control of these, so priorities organising and arranging your work environment and investing in the best kit you can afford. Price can be an issue though, for a start up. S focus on the changes you *can* make and recognise that the other frustrations are simply a price you pay for the freedom of building your own business.
The second is how you use your time. This is not the place to go into time management, but you do need to feel in control of your time, so if this is an issue, raise another question and contact me to answer it, which I'll gladly do.
One final tip, if it's allowed by moderators...My two books below were written for people just like you! Both available from your favourite bookseller.
How to Manage Stress (Brilliant Business) - published by Pearson
How to manage your time (Brilliant Business) - published by Pearson
Stress comes with the territory. Heavy is the head that wears the crown and all that...but the rewards of your success will make you forget about all the other stress that comes with owning your own business. Learn to delegate - don't think you have to take on everything yourself. Hire a good team to help you relive some of the burden. If cost is an issue, consider some interns to help you out, theres tons of kids out of college who need a little something to do, and will work inexpensively.
ive started many, MANY small businesses over my 40+ year career and most of the time with little money. The one thing I know is there are always huge obstacles to overcome which is a major cause of stress. For me I always remind myself of the stress that comes from working at a job making money for someone else while I struggle to pay bills, provide for my family and accomplish the dreams I have for my own life.
There will always be things you need to learn. there will always be people telling you it can't be done. Telling you you're foolish for risking your security. BUT, Im the kind of person that the harder it is, the more people telling me I will fail, the more determined I am to prove to myself that it CAN be and I can Do IT then i go and get it done.
I believe there is no such thing as failing. There is only quitting, If you don't quit its not a failure just an unexpected set back requiring a new strategy. If you quit then you fail.
I believe there is stress in any job or occupation and you just have to choose which lifestyle makes you happier.
I take a lot of pride in knowing any one can quit, but to take on a huge challenge with virtually no support and win, that takes an exceptional person with real ability
Great question Daniel. Define and visualize clearly your vision starting your own business. Write it done and post it in a visible way. To keep your focus and better handle stress you need to focus on the WHY you started. All the rest will be just distractions.
Work out also helps. Find a way to insert mork out time in your schedule
You might find this blog post of help, since it references some other sources of information about this whole thing. I've been running my little business since 1984, and would simply offer up that you really cannot expect the stress to end. It tends to change, but it is not like you are working for someone else/. The buck (hopefully more than one) stops with you.
But check this out for some links that I have found useful: http://performancemanagementcompanyblog.com/2014/08/06/entrepreneurial-terror-how-can-anyone-else-understand/
Mostly, have FUN out there. It sure beats working for someone else, but count on lots of stress and lots of hours and lots of personal change.
Stress something which everybody has , once you become experience you get maturity to handle it.So starting a business you need to plan everything properly mainly the fund handling :)
It might be an awesome experience for you to share your start up stress with a life coach that can be present with you while you take this incredible walk through empowering your life in new directions and purposeful existence. I'd be happy to journey with you. You can reach out anytime. You can find me on LinkedIn.
I offer a FREE 45 minute discovery session just so that you can let the steam out of the pressure cooker you are feeling like you are in. Speaking from experience, having someone to talk with who knows what it feels like to start a new business might be the cheerleading section you need to keep you motivated. It's never good to go it completely by yourself. Just a thought...Journey On...
Get a business coach and, if that doesn't help you enough to get organized and reduce your anxiety, get a life coach.
If that doesn't help, get a regular job.
I'm not joking...Good luck!
One recommendation is to don't feel that you are on your own. There's an organization called S.C.O.R.E. (a free volunteer organization). You get FREE, confidential, business advice from expert advisors committed to helping you succeed. Also, consider networking with other people that can share their expertise and talents with you as well.
Great question and a valid concern. I teach classes on health and wellness and the top 4 ways I handle stress are listed below:
1.) Eat right (e.g. Green smoothies and more whole food lifestyle help out the most)
2.) Exercise (Your body releases endorphins that make you feel good)
3.) Get enough rest (7-9 hours for optimal brain health)
4.) Use Natural Solutions (e.g. Essential oils are very effective in relieving stress)
Hi Daniel, having your own business is like bringing up a child. It takes constant caring and worrying. While you do manage all the stress of your business initially, at the back of your mind you need to figure out how to delegate responsibilities and yet make sure the child is brought up the way you would want it to be.
Somethings are beyond what money can buy and starting your business is one of them. You need to find people who are aligned to your business goals and who look up to you. Those people, and not necessarily genius people, will help you grow the seeds to the plant you want to see it become one day. It has to be taken in this spirit and only then you can turn things around.
Congratulations on becoming an entrepreneur! It is at times overwhelming, difficult and apparently extremely stressful. All the self - help books would suggest turning stress into positive motivation that makes it your stepping stone to success. The question that you have is how?? My personal experience after 2 years of entrepreneurial ups and downs is:
1. Have a Clear Vision - Where does your ambition end? We all see ambition as a journey, with no clear destination - find it and you have a scope to create the roadmap. E.G. My organization in ___________ business area, with _________ skills, operating in _______________ location, servicing ___________ customers from ________ target businesses, should have a minimum workforce of ________ staff by the end of __________ years. This will give me scope to create a detailed roadmap around business area, scope of operations, skill set requirements, business development opportunities, etc.
2. Start and End everyday with adding bylanes to your roadmap. Some days may be absolutely in sync with your visions. Other days may be a complete antithesis. Learn from both experiences, take the detours and learn from them anyway.
3. Take each day as it comes - This is a slightly difficult thing to accomplish, as it is Human Nature to anticipate and react to situations rather than wait for responses to actions to unfold.
4. Have a Stress Tree - Personally, I believe, stress and tensions are a part of life and really inescapable. How we respond to stress determines our health, wisdom, success and happiness. I have a Tree Friend in my society, with which I offload my work stress before entering my home. Next day, before the beginning of my work hours, I pick up the stress from my Tree Friend and start afresh on ways to relieve the same. Basically, I use this Tree as my sounding board, release pent up frustrations and then meet my family with a smile. Keeps my family happy and me sane. The next day, when I pass the same tree, I get all my thoughts collected on how to resolve my work issues smoothly.
5. Meditate - Meditation helps to calm the mind and unify your heart, mind and soul. You may focus on "God", if you pray or even a "blank wall" or "a glowing flame".
6. Never Give up - Even on the worst / most stressful days, "Never Give Up". Your venture is like your life, whether you face good days or bad, you would want to live the next day, see what happens then. The same formula applies to your venture.
All these have helped me think and respond to challenges thrown in the game of entrepreneurship, calmly and in small ways, aided my small yet steady growth. Hope they help answer your question too...Cheers!
A few points
1. Be willing to realize that there are peaks and valleys and that you can deal without a steady flow of income. If you can not go back to the corporate world.
2. have a significant other that is totally supportive, encouraging and if possible has a source of income independent from your own income.
3. Don't rely on 'friends' and part coworkers to give you work network with them and find who they know you don't know and reach out to everyone. Social media is fine but human contact is better so cold call even if you hate it. A little trick. Have a mirror on your desk next to the phone and SMILE before you start the call and keep smiling during the call. That generates a positive tone of voice and keeps you up beat.
4. As other noted find time for at least 15 minutes of meditation a day and 45 minutes of getting a great cardio workout. No excuses, find a friend to work out with it helps.
5. Once you have an income ensure you have a good accountant or banker who forces you to put aside your tax requirements and send it in monthly, don't wait and don't spend it. Remember the more taxes you are paying the more success you are having.
6. Realize your own business is a 24/7 adventure and once you hire others they have to be paid first. But usually that leads to more work and more income. If you can't give it 24/7 don't do it.
Hope these suggestions can help in some way.
Hello Daniel, I join with other commentators in wishing you well on this journey. They have given very practical processes through which you will be able to fall back on if things go off trajectory.
You say you are opening your 'business mostly on your own' which indicates that the resources to bring on board other experts is not available, or, your business idea is not one that can be easily explained, or you have opted for the challenge of learning the skills of starting a business probably with the intention to share with others, either way it has left you questioning yourself.
In life we tend to question ourselves when we are not sure that we have worked out all the kinks or seeking the approval and validation of others to indicate that we are on the right path.
Stress is an indicator of discomfort or dis-ease with the flow of work or conditions in which you are operating, taking up membership with a mastermind group should remove some of that feeling of isolation and give you access to resources that would support the growth of your personal skills and business. Self help books are good if you actually know what thought you didn't know!
Your motivation will be easily sustained if you can maintain your vision. Here is the best kept secrets about achieving our goals - holding an emotion of satisfaction that you have your objective has a 100% return which stress does not. STRESS is limiting as it says, I'm not enough! I dont have enough time, it's not possible! where will the sales come from?
The only way to turn your stress around is to LET IT GO! in doing this you will remove the barriers to your business growth.
Hope this helps
If I wanted to be self-promoting, I'd say hire a virtual assistant to take care of all the little stuff. Hey - I'm a virtual assistant! Whaddya know! :)
I've been running my business for over seven years now. I don't think I've ever been stressed regarding "running" it. Because I love my business and I love what I do, so I'm never upset about it. However I do get stressed when I don't feel like I'm working hard enough to make the business grow, or not enough work is coming in - and I feel like I'm failing.
At those points, after throwing the tiniest bit of a pity party, I stop thinking about the negatives and move myself into an educational, focused mindset. So, instead of me thinking "I'm not getting these jobs because someone knows X and I don't" I sit down and start learning X. I guess what I'm saying is that there is always something that you can be doing with a proactive mindset rather than dwelling on the stress of a situation. Does that make sense?
And now those stressful times don't come nearly as often anymore, though some of that is because I've learned how work patterns happen. For example, I know it's going to be dead for work in December, and it's currently dead right now. The first couple of years I freaked out thinking everything was falling apart. Now I know it's just what goes on. So I take these months where work is at a crawl and I read, learn some new software, and go have fun, too! Because I know it'll come flowing back in soon and I won't have the luxury of time to do these things.