How I dealt with the stress of being an entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur can be an intense journey. Last week I closed my first business, Nourish’d Kitchen, after a year and a half of ups and downs.

I’d like to share how I used one simple trick to turn a journey that was full of pressure and anxiety into one that was easy and fun.

This story may be about my experience running a business but I use the trick I am about to introduce in all areas of my life.

Every business has challenges and moments of difficulty, and when you have little support the effect of these moments can be magnified.

In the early days it would be the anxiety when a mentor asked me for the 30th time ‘so what is your USP again?’ or an investor saying ‘I just don’t see how this will ever make money’.

Later on it would be a client shouting at me down the phone telling me her delivery still hadn’t turned up.

My natural response to these problems was to focus on them as just that.

I also felt the need to make sure my business partner saw them as such too.

To illustrate this I’ll give you an example (one of many, trust me!)…

Nourish’d provided healthy lunches for businesses. One day a client called me to let me know that her delivery had not turned up on time for the 3rd week running.

‘We’re going to use someone who can manage to deliver on time’, she said.

My reaction was instantly to go to problems.

  • We can’t get delivery right because it’s so traffic dependent.
  • How are we ever going to compete with the high-street restaurants who can walk the food over to these buildings?

I would look at our clients and start to imagine 10–20–30% of them leaving due to delivery problems.

I would say to George, ‘if we can’t sort this out we are going to fail’.

His response would usually be positive so I’d point to all the other challenges and problems I could see in the business on top of this. Everything that pointed to disaster.

I’d go on and on until I felt he was on board with the fact that we were doomed!

Clearly this wasn’t working for me. It left me feeling dis-empowered and negative about something great I was doing and it put a strain on my relationship with George.

The realisation that this wasn’t what I wanted for my life, was a huge first step.

Having seen this, I decided to look at how I wanted to live my life…

I wanted to be someone that found it easy to run a business, someone who was positive and solution focused so I chose to be just that.

I said it out loud, I wrote it in my phone and I told George about who I was now. It was music to his ears I’m sure.

Everything began to change. Every time a challenge came my way I would be automatically starting down my path of problem focusing when I’d catch myself and ask myself, ‘is this what someone who finds it easy to run a business would do?’.

If the answer was no, I’d stop myself and did something a person who did find it easy to run a business would do.

I remember one specific instance that really showed me the value of this.

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George and I were walking down the street outside the office and George asked me what was on my mind.

My thoughts automatically went to the problems I was facing at the time, to the issues I had had that day and to my concerns about the future and I was just about to voice all of this before I caught myself.

“No, this isn’t who I am anymore.”

Instead, I decided to focus on positives and solutions.

I said something like, ‘everything’s under control, I’ve got our packaging nailed and I’m looking at solutions to improve delivery since this is important to our customers.’

In that moment, I did feel like I had it under control. George, I’m sure was shocked by this level of positivity, and was also able to give his ideas about delivery. I felt doubly determined to take action and fix our delivery issues.

And of course, there was a solution. There always is if you look hard enough and take action!

Over the next month these mini victories played out over and over again until not long after I created myself as someone who finds it easy to run a business, I became that person.

My automatic reaction had changed.

My auto response was to be positive and solution focused and boy did it make a difference. Running a busy was easy! And fun!

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So what was the trick that made this possible?

I call it ‘Creating Myself’.

I’m committed to being happiness for myself and all the people around me.

To do that I had to make running my business easy and improve my relationship with my business partner. Otherwise we were both going to be miserable.

As a result I created myself as being ‘someone who finds it easy to run a business’, and every time I felt myself struggling I turned to behave as if I was just that.

The important thing to realise here is that I could have created myself as anything, it could have been peaceful, angry, or accepting, but I know that ease was what was missing.

Take a moment to look at an area of you life that isn’t working. Who do you need to be to make this work? Then ‘Create Yourself’ as just that. See where it takes you.

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