People often ask themselves how they can prevent them from experiencing negative emotions such as fear, nervousness and anger, but the truth is that we do not. Anxiety and feelings of worry, nervousness and discomfort can turn our stomachs into knots, undermine our confidence and wellbeing, create stress, deprive us of a peaceful nights sleep, or even cause anxiety and depression.
Fear can show up in a whole host of different ways for entrepreneurs. Including fear of:
being judged as not worthy
being seen as a fake
even being successful
At any given moment one or a combination of these can show up for business owners, especially if they work alone.
Now the trick here is to understand the fear no matter how uncomfortable it is. Because that fear is telling you something. It’s telling you that something is out of alignment with either you, your business or even both. What I mean is not that you are doing anything wrong particularly but there is something in your nervous system trying to hold you back from action, and it’s using fear to do this.
The purpose of fear
Biologically fear exists to protect us. If you’ve ever burnt yourself, next time you get close to fire you’ll feel that fear as a warning to stay away, and the feeling is usually so powerful that it instantly stops you from taking action. It’s this instant power from fear that has helped our species survive. All living creatures experience fear, it’s a healthy part of existence and has been with us since the beginning of time.
But as we grow older the fears evolve too. Suddenly upsetting our friends and family or being reprimanded or seen as failing becomes the focus of our fear. We don’t want to upset our tribe, and potentially be banished for standing out. So for many of us, we try to blend in and be useful.
So, understandably for entrepreneurs who want to create personal brands, standing out can bring up every type of fear imaginable.
I certainly experienced this myself during my own entrepreneur journey. I consistently sought our partnerships with people who would be happy to be the public face. So I could do the actual guts of the work behind the scenes. I hated the thought of people ‘seeing me’ and it took many years of hard work to actually come to the conclusion that I had to put my face to my brand in order to truly deliver the message I was put here to do.
So I get it, it’s tough. But if you’re an entrepreneur with a personal brand, you really need to address these fears or your business will suffer.
The fear most of us live with today is entirely psychological and that fear leads to the biggest problem in today’s society – stress.
Stress causes so many issues with minds and bodies, it needs a piece to itself. But the long and short of it is that consistently living a stressed life is going to have a knock on effect on you, your family and ultimately your business.
So let’s get to it. If you’re constantly in a state of anxiety and fear and struggle to even sit still. This is your sign to take action. You’re one of those people who is so anxious about life in general that you are crippling yourself with the ‘what if’ feelings.
Some entrepreneurs manage this stress by overworking. By keeping constantly busy they don’t have time to deal with their anxiety. But this again is a short term solution, because it simply masks something much deeper going on.
The Fear Rationalizing Process
We need to understand that something is out of alignment. Your solution is to sit and write out what it is exactly that you are most frightened of? Try and be as specific as possible to understand what is going on. Then when you have identified the specific fear, work on an action plan to deal with this.
For example – if you fear that you’ll be judged, put into your action plan someone who supports you. Or perhaps you are anxious that you’ll fail, in this scenario know that every billionaire, millionaire, multi income stream, brand on the face of the earth failed!
See it helps to counteract the fear, don’t let it run around your brain like a spoilt child. Take control, and manage the fear. You know it’s going to come up at some point, it’s your duty to take control of it. By getting specific on counteracting the fear you can manage it. Fear thrives on the unknown, it’s a nagging feeling that something bad will happen but if you answer that nagging feeling with logic, it shifts the feeling, it probably won’t obliterate it, and we don’t want to eliminate fear completely but it will help to make it so much easier to manage.
Focused Breathing Exercise
Focused breathing is a great way to help to calm the reactivity of our nervous system and return to our natural physiological state of inner peace, even in the midst of adversity. Even if things are turbulent at the moment, those who overcome their fear do not forget peace. [Sources: 3, 13]
If you become overly anxious try using the following steps to help you calm down and regain control.
There’s a great breathing practice from the desk of Stanford Neuroscientist Dr Huberman says the fastest way to bring the autonomic nervous system is with a physiological sigh which instantly helps reduce stress and anxiety.
The pattern is this:
Two short inhales back to back through the nose – followed by an extended exhale through the mouth.
That’s a super quick way to help calm the nerves. Coupled with some regular meditation and mindfulness practice you can truly begin to turn that fear into a place of calm on a daily basis.
Just Breathe Meditation
It’s why I created my Just Breathe meditation for entrepreneurs, because using that simple practice when we need some calm can make all the difference in our businesses.
Another practice combines breathing with the fear rationalizing exercise.
Exhale The Fear Exercise
To change our relationship with fear and anxiety, we need to define what we are dealing with and use breathing techniques to calm our mind. So next time you are afraid to do something, take several long, deep breaths, list your fears and imagine you are exhaling them as you count them. Remember that letting go of fear will allow you to let go of fear when you let your breath flow and keep your chest open, and letting go of fear will bring you true health and inner peace.
Keeping a mindfulness journal can also help manage fear on a day to day basis. And help you rewire your brain, reboot your nervous system, and cultivate inner peace, happiness, and resilience.
Stick with it
Let’s be clear however, if you’re used to living with constant stress and anxiety It will be tough to retrain your brain, but if you commit to bringing about change, you will be able to overcome your fears and unknowns, and you will discover that fear. Is the catalyst that helps you embody what you really want in your life.
Explore and discover how to consistently defy fear, habit and addiction and how to prevent yourself from living with fear.
It is important to understand that the transformation of fear into calm is not about suppressing or denying the truth of your feelings. It is also reassuring to accept the reality of fear as a symptom of our body, rather than reacting with catastrophic thinking.
Each of the tools listed above can help you move fear into calm. Next time you’re feeling any kind of stress try one and see which works best for you.
Entrepreneurs are more likely to be affected by burnout than any other type of business owner. These 5 tips will help you to prevent burnout and save your business in the process.
As an entrepreneur myself, I speak from experience here. And boy, what an experience did I have. I was so good at ignoring the signs of my own burnout that I literally became paralyzed from the neck down.
The burnout was so destructive that doctors told me there was nothing I could do to heal. Needless to say, perhaps my greatest achievement in life was not listening to the doctors and finding my own solutions.
These 5 tips are just some of the ways I learned to heal my own body and save my business from ruin.
Tip 1 – Get clear on your vision
Sometimes the simplest of things makes the biggest difference in business. No matter how large or small your business is. Whether you are just thinking about starting a business or even been trading for years. The vision is always needed to ensure a healthy operating model. By vision, I mean, what’s your why? What is the reason why you started this business? Is it to leave a legacy? Is it to help others live better? Is it to create financial freedom for your kids? Whatever it is that drives you to make this business work write it down and review it daily!
When you are clear on why you’re doing this suddenly your to-do list makes sense. This is also incredibly useful exercise especially if you’re one of those entrepreneurs who can’t just stick to one business! If you suffer with shiny object syndrome – I.e constantly changing your mind, starting one business then being distracted by another business model and never committing to one. That shiny object syndrome will lead to burnout and financial ruin quicker than a gambling addict on the Vegas strip.
Let go of the idea that long working hours are a sign of a great entrepreneur and let them go. Ultimately, the success of an entrepreneur is not the number of hours you invest, but what you do with those hours.
Tip 2 – Manage your mindset
Your mind is the control centre of your life. Learning to manage how you operate, and dealing with issues where your mind just doesn’t want to play ball are essential to success in well everything in life. If you know me, you know I am all about the power of the mind to completely transform your life. It was only when I incorporated meditation and mindfulness into my daily routine that I truly began to see success in not just my own health transformation but in all aspects of my life.
Dedicating just 5 minutes a day for meditation will help you gain some calm in the chaos. It will help you to manage stress, and with time it will also help you become more creative and help you adapt better. All win-win’s in the world of entrepreneurship.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your business, I urge you to take a step back and balance it out by implementing a meditation practice today, it truly was one of the biggest game changers for me. That’s why I now teach meditation world wide alongside my consulting business.
Tip 3 – Know your limits
But know this, as a human being you are only good at so many things. Yes, I know that’s hard to digest, you’re not perfect. You have your strengths and you have your weaknesses. Mapping these out and getting clear on what you are good at and not so good at, or even things that don’t necessarily need to be done by you will make a huge impact on your business. Hire a virtual assistant wherever possible to manage your admin tasks and spend your time doing the things that make you money.
As entrepreneurs we can easily get stuck in a vicious circle working so hard we forget we are not alone. We can become so used to doing all the tasks in our business ourselves that we may sometimes feel shame in having to ask for help. But there isn’t shame in asking. It’s wise to ask for help. In fact it’s one of my first recommendations to anyone starting a business. If you want your business to grow the sooner you get someone in replace you the better, why? Because it lets you move up the ladder to more strategy or even advisor role where you may get to the point where you can sell your business if that’s your goal.
Spreading that workload will be stressful in the beginning when you onboard someone but it will rapidly become a god send and you’ll wonder how you managed without support in the past.
Tip 4 – Respect your boundaries
Setting healthy boundaries is possibly the most difficult aspect of being an entrepreneur. There is a tendency, again with the ‘hustle’ culture that we need to be working all hours. But this is a surefire way to burnout. Longer, harder work does not necessarily equal more money or success.
You must learn to strike a true work-life balance or be prepared to either lose your friends, your partner, your health or your business or perhaps a combination of the above. Think of your business as a marathon and not a sprint. Take time each day to attend to your other needs, whether that’s exercising, enjoying lunch with a friend, dancing, painting, going to a museum, bingeing a Netflix series. Whatever it may be, do it daily!
Set the time in your diary like a meeting. For example at 5pm I shut my laptop down, no matter what. Clear my desk for the next day and I’m done. No, oh I’ll just do xyz or maybe I’ll just finish this. I respect the boundary I have set myself. And I stick to it. That clear line between work and private life is one it took me years to learn but boy did it pay off. I have worked with clients all over the world and I used to let them text me all hours of the day and night. This caused no end of stress, and if I didn’t respond because perhaps they messaged when I was asleep, I would feel like a failure. Now I have set times in my contact schedule so it’s not just me but also my customers who know when I am available. Just a little clear communication and everyone’s happy and stress free!
Tip 5 – Stop the comparison
Social media, what an absolute blessing and a curse! A blessing because today you can instantly connect with your customers and prospects around the world. And a curse because it can be the worst time suck, and a nightmare for our own mental health.
The whole hustle culture will lead you to believe that successful entrepreneurs rise at 5 am or earlier, run 10 miles, drink zero caffeine all day and create an empire from their laptop on a sandy beach somewhere and still have time to meditate for 4 hours, practice their yoga and dine out on lobster. Let’s be clear, most of those posts if not all are complete lies! Yes you can operate your business from a laptop, I do that with my own business. But to pretend that you are super human is lying not just to yourself but everyone around you. We’re human. Sometimes we need days off, a glass of wine and to curl up under the duvet.
So I urge you, whenever you see those perfect posts from entrepreneurs claiming to have all their stuff together the chances are they are lying through their teeth.
I love the quote ‘Stop comparing your behind the scenes to everyone else’s showreel’. It’s worth remembering that what most people are doing on social media is showing you their public face you don’t see the hell going on behind the scenes.
So don’t beat yourself up for not meeting some fake idea of perfection. Perfection simply doesn’t exist even for entrepreneurs.
Your goal as an entrepreneur is to have the courage to free yourself from the shackles of fear and risk. Taking risks is part of building a business but you need to do so with a level of self-care and compassion.
Ensure you create and stick to a daily routine, where you’re clear on the your daily vision, you know what the plan is for the day, you stick to it. You also have fun that day. You take time to manage your mind, delegate some admin tasks and switch off the computer when the work day is done.
These essential tips can make all the difference in helping you win the marathon of running a successful business.
When you look at small businesses, it’s really difficult to judge whether they are healthy or not from the outside. But we often have a kind or sixth sense of a company’s health when we interact with them. Sometimes we can just tell that something is not well, but we can’t always put our finger on it.
But if we think of a business the way we do humans then that gives us an indication of where to start.
The first important thing you can do is to assess the health of your business in its current state. In particular, we will focus on how your health as a company could be affected by a number of factors, such as age, health, employee age (or entrepreneur age), location, etc.
I will also cover off some tips on what to do and how to do it.
Of the four metrics, however, the profitability of a company is perhaps the most obvious metric to measure. We all know our personal health can be improved, so vice versa so can the health of your company.
Your company’s profit is a measure of how well your company has performed over time. Profit margins are also useful to measure the performance of your business at a particular moment in time. But money is not the only indicator of business health.
The analysis of cash flow will help you understand what your company might look like in the short and medium term. If numbers are not your strong point, then I would certainly suggest getting a business coach in to take a look. Even having an external pair of eyes look assess performance can help assure you that you are on the right track. After all as entrepreneurs many of us are so deep in our day to day we can neglect these crucial long term strategies.
Having a business consultant analyze your base rates can help you assess how healthy your business is, diagnose potential problems and help to nip them in the bud before they become a real issue.
When you think of takeovers, the first thing an organisation does is analyze a company’s financial metrics which allows lenders to see how it is doing in comparison to its competition.
Imagine, for example, that these metrics belong to a single company, but you can see how calculating these three metrics alone can enable a quick health check of the company. A potential small business lender will take all these metrics into account when assessing the health of its business and other factors such as sales and profits. [Sources: 11, 13]
You can promote economic growth by continuing to work with partners who can help your business succeed.
As well as the money side. I like to look at the health of the people in the business. Are people happy in their work or stressed, overworked and dying to shut their laptops?
In these cases, some form of mental and phsyical care needs to be incorporated into the business. Be that a ‘personal day’, where employees are allowed to take a day off to do whatever they wish and not have to be sick for example.
Or for small businesses, connecting with organisations or apps that offer mental health services. Such as the service offered by Calm. Bringing meditation and mindfulness into the workplace.
It is also helpful to think about behavioural changes by helping your employees to set personal goals and develop healthy habits. [Sources: 17, 18] These are absolutely crucial for the mental health of your employees and yourself. Clarity on the direction of your own goals and the direction of the business help to not only ensure you are all on the same page but also help with communication and overall vision.
Regularly reviewing the health of your business is an essential part of governance that unfortunately gets pushed aside in the drive for profits for many small business owners. And I get it, you’re so busy in the day to day how can you begin to take a step back and look at this stuff. But that’s where you need external help. Get a consultant to assess your business, the intrusion will be minimal but the benefits can potentially save you from ruin.
Obviously you need to have enough revenue to support your current targets, but also consider the requirements for future growth. If you’re a sole trader and you want to grow your business, you’re going to need to factor in the costs of support, even if that’s just a part-time employee on weekends. But that extra cost needs to come from somewhere, perhaps with that vision in mind, you simply set aside a weekly sum to be able to pay someone in future. Just taking time to sit and think through the ideal scenario can help you plan your business future with much more control.
The truth is most small businesses are reactive and not proactive and that’s why so many have a high fail rate. There is way too much information on the internet about how to create funnels, and landing pages and nowhere near enough information on how to effectively run your business with a long term vision.
Knowing your underlying operating profit margin and getting comfortable with your profit and loss sheets. Planning the budget and creating a vision of the long term goal should be the starting point for many small businesses. And these metrics need to be assessed on a regular basis, to ensure you are on the right path.
Don’t be one of those entrepreneurs who neglects the essentials of your business health. Set a vision, i.e. your long term goal. Assess the performance of your sales, and your products. But also your own mental health and wellbeing whilst working, set healthy boundaries so you can operate your business with professionalism and integrity. Plan for the future and your business cannot help but thrive with the proper care and attention.
Success is a very important part of life, but is there any evidence that happiness is more important than success.
Happiness is such a priceless feeling and there are neuroscientific and psychological studies that show that it leads to better health, better mental health, and greater well-being.
There is also strong evidence that happiness correlates with, and often precedes, career success, and that positive emotions lead to better outcomes in the workplace. And subsequently there is strong evidence that happiness is more than important to success. Sources: 15, 16, 20
The biggest correlation between business success and happiness is that money can’t buy happiness. If you build your business focusing on the things that make you happy, then you inevitably become successful. But that’s something many people struggle to believe in. Why? Often because as entrepreneurs we are often in the thick our work and oftentimes not able to see the wood for the trees.
In these situations, it’s always best to take a step back and have someone else take a look at what it is you need to be doing with your business to create the balance between doing something that brings happiness and success.
If you work hard, you will become successful. But will that be enough to make you happy?
The pursuit of happiness may be a daily task, but if we celebrate our small wins each day then the happiness seems to grow naturally.
In other words, happiness is crucial to a healthy and successful life.
But what’s important here is to understand what happiness is to you. To do this one process is to write down your own definitions of what happiness and success mean to you. That level of clarity gained from this exercise can help you identify true happiness and success. As an example, if you say that success is completing your tasks for the day then you’re more likely to be successful each day as opposed to not being clear and having some vague idea that success is related to the dollar amount in your bank account!
If you want more happiness and success in your life, it really helps to surround yourself with people who are happy and successful. Building strong relationships gives you the opportunity to find a higher level of success and happiness in life.
You will feel happier and prove that happiness is not something you have to wait for before you succeed, but that you can feel happy now by proving it to yourself. And seeing others happy and successful does something wonderful to the brain, it gives you the desire to achieve the same.
When you look at happy people, they will tell you how easy it is, that you don’t need anything to actually get happiness from it.
The field of positive psychology contains a lot of research into how our behaviour affects our happiness and how it affects success and happiness and is definitely worth checking out.
One interesting point to note is that after reviewing 225 studies, it has even been shown in some cases that success does not produce happiness in the way we might think, and that it is indeed happiness that leads to success.
Success is like a vision and without happiness there is no sense of purpose in it. It is important to remember that happiness is the most important thing in this equation, because that is what our ultimate vision is about.