Crippling fear and anxiety. Two emotions that plague all aspiring business owners. As an anxiety sufferer, the cards were stacked against me when I launched a freelance writing business in 2014. I feared rejection and failure. I was anxious about the future. I worried about not having what it takes and falling flat on my face while everyone laughed.
I know how tempting it is to sit around for months hashing and rehashing plans because it feels safer than starting and failing. However, you shouldn't quit before trying. Instead, dig into your fears and conquer the persistent voice of self-doubt. Here are a few tactics that help me manage the fear and anxiety since being a solopreneur depends on me being fearless.
Tactic #1: The Best and Worst Test
Whenever you're apprehensive ask yourself these question: What's the best that can happen? What's the worst that can happen?
Work through the scenarios to find exactly what has you in a tizzy. You'll notice the worst scenario is either not that bad or simply unrealistic. For example, I hesitated in the past to send out introductory emails to entrepreneurs I wanted to work with.
Going through the exercise, I realized I was scared they would respond to me with a nasty email and tell every one of their entrepreneur friends not to work with me. This has yet to happen. And the possibility of the best thing happening (landing more work) is worth the risk of a rude email. I'll survive.
Tactic #2: Rip the Band-Aid Off
When you're feeling fearful or anxious there's a tendency to procrastinate. Am I right? You plan to block out whatever puts you on edge until you're in a better headspace. After all, it's safer and you can attack the hard stuff tomorrow.
That headspace doesn't exist and procrastination only prolongs the fear of an unknown outcome. Take a deep breath in and take the leap. There's relief when you stop hemming and hawing to face the fear. Sure, it'll feel uncomfortable at first, but it never feels comfortable no matter how long you wait.
Tactic #3: Humble Yourself
Now, this tactic isn't intended to question your character. I'm talking "humble" in a different sense. Say, you're worried about reaching out to someone new; the underlying fears are:
"They won't find value in it. They won't like me. They won't think I'm credible. They'll make fun of my work and my website. They'll gossip about me with other people."
Notice it's all about you? The fact is, no one thinks about or dissects you as much as you do. Not to say you're unimportant, but people have their own insecurities they're wrapped up in.
If you do get turned down, it's nothing personal. No one's talking bad about you behind the scenes. And if they are talking about you, consider it a dodged bullet. You don't want to work for a person like that anyway. Gosh, when I remind myself of this each time I have an insecurity freak out it's like a weight lifts.
Tactic #4: Let It All Out
When you get in your head it's lonely and isolating. A close network of people with your interests is invaluable. They can help you rationalize feelings to free you from analysis paralysis. Thanks to social media, it's easy to connect with other business owners that can relate to you.
You may even benefit from hiring a coach who's had success in the business you want to start. Voice your feelings and learn from their experiences to make it feel less overwhelming.
I'll be the first to admit, dealing with fear and anxiety is an ongoing process. But, once you have a few helpful strategies on your toolbelt, you can manage it to move forward.