Estimated reading time: 8 mins
Building a company is not easy. But it’s an experience you need to live to understand the complexity of the entrepreneurial position. Administrative and market obstacles can be smoothed out and avoided with the appropriate knowledge and strategy. But as a new entrepreneur, you’ll have to pay a high price to launch your company.
Contrary to everyone’s favourite playwright might like to suggest, the price you pay is not a pound of flesh, let alone blood and tears. The price all first-time business owners pay is psychological. You could lose your mental health in a poorly managed launch. Indeed, before a successful entrepreneur turns into a hero – think of Elon Musk and his Tesla cars, or the inspiring Steve Jobs–, history forgets that they had to go through a period of doubts, financial difficulties, management worries, and self-esteem issues. You don’t succeed without sleepless nights and some white hair.
IN every business owner’s past, there is the cold taste of fear and despair. Indeed, the stress you experience when you build your own company is nothing you have experienced before. It doesn’t compare to the traditional workplace stress as an employee. It’s something of a different level that can reach near-debilitating extremes. In fact, it’s not uncommon for new self-employed professionals to give up on their business dream because they can’t handle the psychological pressure that comes with it.
The business owners who can make it until the other end of the psychological tunnel have learned to fake it until they can make it. While faking it is not the appropriate solution, it can help to rely on expert counsellors while the company grows. Ultimately, you can’t ignore your internal struggles, as they can destroy you if left unaddressed. Too many entrepreneurs have taken their lives to escape the pressures. So, if you’re in the process of starting your own business, you need to be prepared to deal with your fears in the most effective way.
Chrometophobia and tax horror
Whether you’re starting as a freelancer or whether you want to become a business owner, there’s no denying that the way you manage your finances needs to change and adjust to your new professional situation. As an employee, you can rely on your company to handle your health insurance, equipment and training costs, and even some of your taxes. In fact, if you work in the UK and have never earned any form of additional income outside of your day job, it’s fair to assume that you don’t even know what tax assessment is about. But when you are your own boss, things are different. You have to be in charge of all financial management and transaction. For many newcomers, the transition can be extremely stressful. It’s not uncommon for some entrepreneurs to get so nervous about preparing their taxes or setting a business market, that they choose not to handle money matters. The fear of finances, chrometophobia, can be a handicap to business growth. It can lead to legal issues with the tax administration, for which you have to pay severe fines. If you’re a freelancer, you can choose to work under an umbrella company that can sort out your taxes and NI contributions. For business owners, unfortunately, there is no umbrella company option. But you can outsource your finance activities to an independent accountant, who can manage your budget and prepare your tax returns.
Time is precious. Time is money. Can you afford to waste time? Of course, you can’t. But before you fall into the trap of developing time anxiety, you need to remember that not working doesn’t always mean you are wasting your time. When you work as a self-employed independent – freelancer or entrepreneur – time is your most valuable asset. It’s natural to want to cut down on leisure activities so that you can concentrate on your professional career. But you need to learn to stop listening to your fears. Losing time is necessary in the grand scheme of things. The mind can’t stay focused for more than a couple of hours without experiencing a drop in productivity and concentration. It’s therefore essential that you establish a schedule that promotes regular breaks and social interactions. Indeed, while launching your business is hard work, overworking yourself will not get you anywhere. A tired mind is prone to make mistakes and struggle with low creativity. Additionally, dealing with time anxiety is a mental exercise that you can sustain by ensuring that no time is wasting is unproductive, repetitive tasks. For instance, electricians and home building contractors can save time with an electrical quoting software solution that does all the hard calculating and estimating work for them. Similarly, marketing automation tools, automated Analytics reporting solutions, and administrative software can also save you precious time in your day-to-day career.
Fear of failure
Very few businesses started successfully. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple with a capital of $1,350, which they generated in selling Jobs’s Volkswagen microbus and Wozniak’s Hewlett-Packard calculator. While Apple I and Apple II sold with tremendous success, by 1980, 5 years after Apple’s launch, the company recorded declining sales, losing its market to IBM. In fact, the situation was so desperate that Jobs sold his shares of Apple and resigned in 1985. By any standard, the story so far is the tale of a failure. Failures are a natural part of a business story. However, fear of failure can be the most serious obstacle business owners have to face to make it work. Jobs, for instance, waited over 12 years before he was re-appointed to Apple’s board of directors. The rest is history, but it’s fair to say that if there’s one lesson to remember it’s that Jobs didn’t let failure stop him. In fact, he embraced it to adjust his stance and grow further. The key with failures is to understand that while they can’t be avoided, they can be managed with the appropriate growth strategy. Indeed, you need to ensure your company can survive its first years, through market analysis and strategic decisions, and by learning from your mistakes like Jobs.
Social anxiety as a boss
Am I a good boss? Do people like me?
While it might have been easy to make friends when you worked in an office, once you become the person in charge, the social rule can play against you. Stepping into a leadership role is daunting. As a new entrepreneur, you need not only to share your passion with your employees but also to win the trust of the team. Unfortunately, as a business owner, you can’t just be a fantastic market analyst. You will be judged on your leading qualities, namely on whether you can manage to convince your team to follow your direction. Healthy businesses can fall into bankruptcy due to poor leading qualities. But it can be difficult to step into a managerial role when you’re trying to be friends with your employees. Surprisingly, parents find it easier to act as leaders from day one because they are experienced in maintaining a relationship in which they need to serve as advisors, guides and inspiration but not friends. Not that employees are like children, but you need to know that popularity doesn’t make you a great leader.
Of course, you want your brand to be appealing to as many people as possible. But you can’t address this challenge by continually changing your brand definition to attract a variety of audience groups. Knowing who you are is the most fundamental factor of a business success. Think of it as the unpopular child at school who’s ready to say whatever people want to hear to make friends. A business with an identity crisis is exactly like that kid, and ultimately what people notice is your desperation instead of your quality. You need to define your brand clearly. Start by describing what the business does in one sentence. This process will help you to understand your benefits and why a customer might want to choose your company over another. However, pinpointing your identity is a process that will not happen overnight. Take the time to understand your business so that you can develop a brand that is credible, real and unique.
I’m feeling overwhelmed
The business life can be overwhelming. Every day brings new challenges, and you might feel torn in multiple directions at the same time. Your first steps as a business owner might be disorganised, scattered, stressful. You find yourself jumping from a project to another without completing anything. You might over-commit to projects and run into a wall as a result of an impulsive decision that takes your attention away from your business. It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to develop stress symptoms that are very close to ADD. But if you find yourself struggling in this new environment, there’s no reason to struggle on your own. Working with a personal assistant, or even a virtual assistant can give you the relief you need to maintain your focus.
Stress, anxiety, fear of losing time, finance phobia, these are only some of the few psychological obstacles entrepreneurs have to overcome when they launch a business. There is no miracle recipe for success; you will have to go through some of these negative experiences. However, you can protect your mental health if you know what to expect.