You’re finally ready to launch your product. Or maybe you’re going to meet that potential investor. Or perhaps someone from your team mixed up data pertaining to your most important client. Or you’re mulling over a difficult decision that you’ve been overthinking for too long. As an entrepreneur, you certainly know what I am talking about: The infamous entrepreneurship rollercoaster with its ups and downs, leaving us with that feeling of anxiety for most of the journey. If you let anxiety control you, it can become overwhelming and damage not only your business, but also your health. In these circumstances, most entrepreneurs dive right into “flight” mode, avoiding serious problems or important decisions at all costs. But let me tell you a secret: Depending on how you react to it, anxiety can actually act in your favor.
Postponing Important Decisions If you want your business to grow and succeed, you had better make more good decisions than bad ones. The pressure is high, I know. Most of the time you won’t have all information available when making decisions, but you have to move forward, even without being 100% sure of the outcome. This kind of uncertainty causes stress and anxiety, causing entrepreneurs to postpone important decisions. What can you do to cope with this situation?
Accept the fact that you won’t have all the needed information when making decisions. That’s OK. Once you accept it, you can ask yourself: “What’s the most realistic, best and worst outcome if I make X decision?” This question will help you balance your options and know what to expect in case something goes wrong. Knowing the worst-case scenario will also help you consider its consequences and how to handle them. Most of the time, you will realize that even the worst outcome is not that bad in the grand scheme of things. And hopefully, this will allow you to overcome your anxiety and take action.
I once had a top producer in my sales department who was responsible for over 10% of the company’s overall revenue. He was not a team player and was constantly bringing other people down with his negativity. I went back and forth for weeks deciding whether I should keep him on our team or not. When weighing the outcomes of this decision, I realized that I had a few rising stars on my team, and that part of this employee’s success was due to the fact that I trained him. Knowing the consequences of my decision, I felt much more comfortable making the right one.
Chasing Perfectionism. You’re supposed to put a minimal viable product out there and get feedback before creating a complex one, right? We all try to follow this kind of mindset when running our business. But let’s be honest here. How many times have you found yourself changing a feature for the tenth time just because there was something you still needed to improve a little bit? Like it or not, chasing perfectionism is a trait that most entrepreneurs share.
The problem is that if you let that trait prevail in every situation, you may find yourself spending a lot of time on smaller tasks that are not crucial to your business. And, not to mention, this approach can also slow down your execution and harm your end results. Perfectionism can be incredibly destructive and lead to high levels of anxiety down the line. There are two things that you can do to avoid this problem:
- Limit yourself:If you review your emails five times before sending it, start limiting yourself to check them only twice. Spending too much time on a certain task? Limit yourself time to work on it for only X minutes per day.
- Avoid being a perfectionist with the less important tasks:If you have a less-important email to answer, maybe you don’t need to spend 30 minutes crafting the perfect response. Give yourself five minutes to work on it and leave the other 25 for the more important emails.
Fearing Success. Success has its consequences. The more success you have, the more responsibilities come along with it. People’s expectations rise, and criticism becomes inevitable. You may find yourself having to fire a good employee. Maybe you will have to stop going out with your friends on Friday nights. You may even have to wait a few years before taking a full vacation. If this is something that makes you feel anxious and holds you back, then it’s important to figure out what you are willing to do to achieve your goals.
I’m not a morning person, but I soon realized that I had to accept the idea of waking up earlier if I wanted to build a successful business. I used to go out with my friends several times a week. Now, I’m lucky to talk to them a few times a year. You simply can’t expect to go out on weeknights and wake up every morning at 6 a.m. with the energy required to face all the challenges your business will throw at you. Success doesn’t come for free. If you are willing to make some sacrifices today, you will reap the rewards tomorrow.
By Tommy Mello, owner of A1 Garage Door Repair, a ten million dollar per year company, and published in Forbes Magazine.