In today's economy, you would be hard pressed to find a business owner who doesn't experience some level of anxiety surrounding the fate of their business. But for many entrepreneurs, anxiety can be a real hurdle that makes growth and progress difficult.
Take for example Joaquin (name changed to respect his privacy), a business owner with a consumer products company. When we first started coaching Joaquin, he struggled with terrible anxiety. His business was growing quickly, but his uncertainty and fear had really begun to get in the way of his growth. He was regularly turning down contracts for fear of production backlogs and he was beginning to experience physical and mental burnout.
Our first session together, he showed up in a wrinkled button-down shirt and fidgeted constantly. He looked tired and overworked. His ideas were all over the place, and he struggled to focus for more than a few minutes at a time throughout the hour-long session. It was clear that he needed help.
Here were the three areas we focused on to help Joaquin calm his nerves.
1. Take control of your business.
Like many business owners, Joaquin played an active role in his business. He had his hands in almost every job function and struggled to delegate tasks to his employees.
So we began the process by having him write down every single thing he did over the course of a week. We then looked for places where he could free up his time by creating a series of processes and systems and delegated tasks, where appropriate.
As a consumer goods manufacturer, Joaquin struggled with production and operations. So the first set of systems we set up were:
Preapproved vendor list
Competitive bidding process for all contracts over a certain dollar level
Quality review checklist
A centralized (likely cloud-based) document filing system
Once these were in place, he was able to take his focus away from the "what ifs" and fine-tune the process until he felt comfortable taking on new contracts.
2. Understand the worst-case scenario.
The second thing we worked on together was the concept of "worst-case scenario."
Now, Joaquin already spent a lot of his time thinking about what could go wrong in his business. So we addressed the elephant in the room surrounding some key decisions that he was putting off, with one simple question:
Is it reversible?
The majority of tough business decisions aren't permanent ones.
He was going back and forth about whether to buy a $500,000 piece of manufacturing equipment that would triple his productivity. So I challenged him to think about the worst-case scenario.
Is this decision reversible?
He paused for a minute and then replied "Well, yes.... As long as we take care of the machine, I should be able to sell it for about 90 percent of what I paid for it new."
"So worst-case scenario, you lose $50,000 dollars?"
Suddenly the barrier to the decision was lifted and he could make the decision that his business needed.
3. Make time for self-care.
Last but not least, we made self-care a priority for Joaquin. Now, this isn't about spa days and shopping sprees, it's about taking time out for your own mental and physical growth.
Getting adequate sleep
Taking time away from the business to reflect
Taking time to connect with friends and family members
Joining a mastermind group
I recently met up with Joaquin at our annual coaching retreat in Maui. He wore a Hawaiian shirt, flip flops, and spoke of a month-long trip that he just took to the Galapagos to snorkel with sea turtles.
The business? Set to have its most profitable quarter ever.