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STARTUP

How to Handle Your Entrepreneur Anxiety
 

A pair of founders offers tips on how to cope with the anxiety and fear that being a business owner brings to your life.

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Life as an entrepreneur can give you freedom, satisfaction, financial security...and a bucket load of anxiety. Sure, building a business is rewarding, but a huge percentage of new ventures fail and leaving the security of the corporate world for the uncertain odds of your start-up dreams is scary. How can you deal with that fear?

That's the question recently pondered by Solome Tibebu, the founder of Cognific, on the website of Women 2.0. Tibebu came to entrepreneurship with an existing history of anxiety, so how does she cope now that she's added the extra stresses of being a business owner to her life? She offers six lessons for others facing similar circumstances, including:

Practice mindfulness. Developing mindful awareness will mean improved communication and connection with others, like colleagues and customers. When we are overly self-focused all of the time, it is easy to get caught up in thoughts and mistakes of the past. Come to the present and be more focused, creative, and prepared for solutions-oriented planning.

Build your mind a body--“sweat equity.” We all know that when you don’t get enough sleep, eat unhealthy foods, drink too much caffeine, and don’t get enough regular cardio, it can create the perfect storm to get into a funk-like anxiety, depression, or both…. Strengthening both your body and mind will help prepare you to be the leader you need to be for your startup.

Remember why. While I have had many anxiety-ridden “first-times” in the past 18 months, I feel privileged to be able to innovate and bring to life a solution for a community that is close to my heart. While things may seem unclear often during this journey, remember that no one else knows your story that brought you to starting your venture better than you do.

Check out Tibebu's complete post for more on these points and a few other tips. But Tibebu isn't the only entrepreneur to offer advice on this theme. On blog Dumb Little Man recently Clay Andrews relates the story of the anxiety that gripped him when he quit his job and offers some ideas on how others in the same situation can handle their fear.

For instance, like several others who we've discussed here on Inc.com before, Andrews actually thinks a bit of pessimistic thinking can help calm your nerves as you ponder the worst case scenario and realize it's survivable. He suggests asking:

What is the worst thing that could happen if you do this and fail? Understandably, no one wants to focus on the negative. Many of us have studied positivity or personal development for a while now, and we know that you’re always supposed to focus on the good and what you want, right? But let’s be honest here. We don’t always get our way all the time, and no matter how much we focus on the positive, chant affirmations, or do things to lift our spirits, there isn’t a way to get what you want 100% of the time...

There’s always a risk of failure, and it’s important to weigh that risk. Usually, the risk is fairly small (you might not get that date, you might lose a few dollars, or waste a few hours). Other times, the risk may actually be great, and it’s important to get clear on that too (like say if that parachute doesn’t open, you get locked up in prison, or your career or reputation is ruined). Either way, it’s important to really name the worst case scenario here so that you can actually get a real grasp over the thing you dread.

How do you cope with your entrepreneur's anxiety?

Last updated: Aug 27, 2012

JESSICA STILLMAN is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.
@EntryLevelRebel




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