From the outside looking in, entrepreneurship can seem like an ideal career path. The prevailing assumption is that entrepreneurs have the freedom to pursue their own goals, work for themselves on a schedule they set and reap the financial benefits of a sound business idea, but in practice, this journey also comes with many challenges.
If aspiring entrepreneurs focus solely on the positives of starting a business, they’ll be severely underprepared to handle entrepreneurial obstacles such as competitors and changing market conditions. However, focusing too much on the negatives can result in anxiety that leads to stagnation and the adoption of unsustainable business practices.
To help entrepreneurs find balance as they attempt to overcome or learn to better manage entrepreneurial anxiety, 15 members of Forbes Business Council share advice on what strategies have helped them persevere.
1. Stay Focused On The Result
The entrepreneurial life is a continuous roller-coaster ride. If you like the adrenaline, love the highs and never let the lows defeat you, you are going to succeed. After 17 years of roller coaster riding, my way to overcome all the downs has been to always keep focusing on the result. Turn the lows into opportunities and learn any lessons fast. Optimism and agility have made my dreams happen. – Magda Paslaru, THE RAINBOWIDEA
2. Honor Your Intrinsic Needs
I honor my intrinsic needs to help me avoid stress and anxiety. For example, I work out every morning and, when doing so, my days begin and remain more productive. This activity benefits me beyond the obvious health reasons; starting my day doing something I enjoy and feel accomplished about sets up the entire day for me to be ready to tackle whatever comes my way. – Kent Gregoire, Symphony Advantage
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3. Have A Backup Plan Ready
One way to manage entrepreneurial anxiety is to have a backup plan ready so that if you fall, you can get up again. This can be in the form of a part-time job, a side income or just shoring up cash reserves before every step of expansion. Remember that you have nothing to lose; an entrepreneurial journey is just like studying for an MBA. Learn from your mistakes, rectify them and move on. – Saravana Kumar, Kovai.co
4. Never Stop Learning
There is no standard formula for achieving success because struggles are different for everybody. But, one thing is for sure: Never stop learning, and don’t conform to what others think of you. This will help you overcome roadblocks one by one. Entrepreneurs are notorious for being impatient and overindexing on other people’s expectations. Optimize for learning and doing work that you love instead. – Tyler Weitzman, Speechify
5. Identify And Hire Advisors For Gaps Early On
Entrepreneurs should identify the skill gaps of the founding team and first get buy-in from expert advisors to form a functional board before going “all-in.” It’s a common misconception that advisory boards are formed after funding and development. I’ve brought many companies to market with two founders and an advisory board of over 10 people to ensure little missteps are handled when going to market. – Ben Sever, eRemede
6. Surround Yourself With Positivity
One early challenge I faced was people constantly telling me, “It won’t work” and “It’s a dumb idea.” When starting eBags.com in 1998, at least 95% of my friends and family discouraged me. To counter that, surround yourself with positivity. Encouragement can come from books, articles you read on your phone, your co-founders and other entrepreneurs. Surround yourself with positive energy. – Jon Nordmark, Iterate.ai
7. Build Healthy Personal Habits
To manage the stress of leadership, especially entrepreneurial leadership, you must build healthy personal habits. The work is never done and the opportunities are endless, so you have to build in systems that help you sustain for the long haul. I have a rigorous routine of getting up early, running (preferably outside) and doing an hour of reading before I start my workday. – Jenni Catron, 4Sight Group LLC
8. Create A Comprehensive Business Plan
One powerful way to manage entrepreneurial anxiety is to create a comprehensive business plan. Having a plan that outlines all of your goals and objectives, along with a timeline for achieving them, will help you stay focused and organized. Additionally, having a plan that includes a budget and financial projections can help you manage the risks associated with starting a new business. – Samuel Johnston, nth Venture
9. Get A Career Coach Or Mentor
Lean on a career coach or mentor with shared experiences. Failing is another reminder that you don’t know everything and that there’s room to grow. But overcoming the anxiety accompanying failure takes time and guidance from peers. Working with a career coach has enabled me to better understand when I need to admit that things aren’t going well and that I can’t solve the problem on my own. – Eran Ben-Shushan, Bizzabo
10. Stick To Set Objectives
It is important to stick to the objective you have in your mind. Continue persisting no matter what people (or even you) say. If you think it, you can achieve it! Instead of being scared of failure, embrace it and realize that it is normal to fail. Take failure as a lesson, get better from it and make sure it never happens again. – Neelesh Alwani, Time Piece Trading
11. Understand The Responsibility You’re Taking On
If you contemplate taking the entrepreneurial path, ask yourself whether you’re ready to lead a team, take care of employees and focus on the company’s growth. You should understand the responsibility you take on. Realizing that the entrepreneurial path is not your cup of tea should be normalized. There are plenty of other career paths. – Valentina Drofa, Drofa Comms
12. Find A Business Partner
It can always seem extremely scary to start on the entrepreneurial journey. My best advice is to find a co-founder or co-founders who make you excited to get up and tackle issues every day. Startups are a people game, and the best way to have a great start is to find a great co-founder. – Evan Zhao, Revela, Inc.
13. Develop A Strong Network
The best cure for entrepreneurial anxiety is a strong entrepreneurial network. Join an industry association and connect with your peers. Whatever you’re struggling with, someone else has been there and can advise you. You’ll be able to build your own confidence and industry profile by mentoring your fellow entrepreneurs. – Giles Sutton, CEDIA
14. Be Adaptable
Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Entrepreneurial anxiety typically comes from thinking the plan has to be perfect when you step in the ring. Relieve some anxiety by being prepared to take that first punch, then give yourself permission to adjust the plan to win in your ever-changing reality. – Bryan Howard, Mercury Performance Group, LLC
15. Keep Going
There is power in momentum. Don’t let anxiety transform a challenge into a roadblock. Stressing over every possible outcome and negative scenario holds you back from achieving the positive outcomes and home-run scenarios. Press on! Fight the fear with momentum. – Trey Porter, Trey Porter Law