If your small businesses has endured startup phase, you're probably familiar with the idea that anxiety has not disappeared, it just takes different forms.
But there are things we can do to relieve the anxiety, no matter what stage your startup is at. Here are 5 ideas from entrepreneurs who have been in the trenches.
1. Find or create a group of people on the same path as you and meet regularly.
We all need help from mentors, and mentors all need help from us.
"This will help to keep track of successes and failures and get an outside perspective," says Matt Odgers, from Odgers Law Group. "If you choose people to meet with who are financially in a similar position, it will give you strength to see the sacrifices they are making."
Besides, when you're alone, it's easy to glaze over the progress you've made. That's because we're always looking at the obstacle right in front of us. If you have a business partner, set aside time once a week to do an evaluation--surface concerns, wins, losses and prospects.
"If you surround yourself with people who can remind you of how far you have come, it will help out greatly with staying focused and motivated," says Odgers.
#2. Don't be afraid to ask-ever!
It's the old adage, of course, right up there with "good luck comes to those who work hard": nothing ever comes to those who don't ask for it--help from a friend, a collaboration with a partner, a project with a large, well known brand, a feature in your local paper, etc.
"Make a list of 100 things you only dream about, and start sending emails out, making phone calls and just ask," says Lindsay White, owner of Lot801, a manufacturer of children's apparel. "If you only get 10 YES's from that list, that's a hell of a lot more you had last week."
3. Do what you do best and hire out the rest
When she first started her apparel business, Lindsay White sewed every single stitch, along with doing everything else running a business requires.
Haven't we all made a similar error? Working in your business and not on your business?
"I was worried about hiring a seamstress because I didn't know if I'd have the funds to pay her consistently," she says. "As soon as I hired her, it freed my hands to work on the stuff I was really good at-like social media and PR."
As a result, White got more sales and was able to pay the seamstress.
#4. Find the influencers in your space
Josey Orr , co-founder of DyerandJenkins.com, manufacturer of outdoor apparel, recognized that we're never operating in a silo, no matter how differentiated we believe our business is. He found other companies in his category to help cross promote.
"It's a good way to grow your social and email audiences," he says. "In the beginning, it's good to stay as focused as possible, while trying to get gross numbers up. Then you can really get specific in your approach."
#5. Talk to your audience at every touch point
Getting customer feedback is the cornerstone of the lean startup ethos, but it's hard to imagine a time when customer feedback had little value.
"No matter what we feel or imagine in our heads as the founders or startup team, what truly matters is what the experience is like at every touch point," says Mike Kawula, CEO of Social Quant.
Kawula says to get out of your office and talk to prospects and customers. The most common pitfall among founders who have endured the startup phase is they create layers between themselves and their customers.
"Get the brutal feedback that you might not want to hear," he says. "If they invalidate an idea you had, that is perfectly OK, because they have the wallet and you need to address their pain point."