I quit my job in 2011 to build my own business. I was in for a bumpy ride – and I knew it. In an effort to obtain results at any cost, l adopted work habits that stressed me out and impacted my productivity.
Thankfully, I have pruned every one of them to a point where I can say that today I’m highly effective and at very healthy levels of stress.
However, in case you want to feel overwhelmed, guilty and stressed when starting your business or freelance practice in 2012, please pay close attention… hey, you may be practicing some of them already!
How to Make Sure You’re Stressed Starting a Business
1. Do it all yourself
Disregard your own key skills and never delegate. It doesn’t matter if you’re only really good at marketing or sales. Go ahead and build your online platform from scratch. Make any graphic design tweaks yourself. Get everything on your plate and start working on it. Outsourcing be damned.
2. Set unrealistic expectations
A great way to disappoint yourself is to set highly optimistic targets. As an entrepreneur, specially if you have an innovative product or service, the landscape changes every few weeks. Sometimes every few days. So set up short and medium term milestones that would require the stars to align. Friction (the gap between plans and reality) will always make its way in and guarantee Murphy’s law happens. Oh, and avoid branching out remediation plans for each possible failure scenario. Wait for something to crash first.
3. Make sleep a luxury – not a necessity
You will get plenty of sleep when you die. Why waste your life sleeping? Besides, you’ve got so much to do you can’t afford to get 7 hours of sleep, 4 or 5 is plenty. Creativity you say? Thinking outside the box? When you are sleep-deprived you’ll be safe from such happy clappy thoughts. You’ll be grumpy with your business partner and mechanical in your thinking. Soon you’ll start stressing over petty details. You’re doing great!
4. Adopt this mindset: Effort = Results
You’re an entrepreneur. Sisyphus has nothing to brag compared to your work ethic. Paretto? He was a lazy wimp. The harder and longer you work, the better. Right? Surely toiling a 16 hour day will have a higher OUTPUT. Focusing only on the critical 20% that brings you 80% of the OUTCOMES your business needs… that´s nonsense theory.
Don’t be a wimp. Always finish everything you start and look at results as a by-product: It is raw effort that matters. To reinforce this virtuous behaviour, make sure your Spartan lifestyle is your source of pride and admiration amongst your peer group.
5. Discuss critical points with key people when you are exhausted
It’s simple: The more tired you are, the more important your topic of conversation should be. The chances of fights erupting rise exponentially. The consequences can be miserably stressful, make sure to try this out.
6. Stop exercising
It’s a waste of time. Treat your body like a machine, not a living entity that needs exercise and renewal. You listen to useful podcasts you say? Don’t make me laugh. All that time and energy you waste running could be used to tick another task off your infinite to-do list.
7. Steadily raise your daily caffeine intake
It’s your gasoline, and you are a machine, remember? My office has free coffee so we could all indulge in this legal drug. For particularly rough days you can top up with a big can of Redbull. Energy spikes and crashes will soon be part of your daily grind.
8. Work all the time
You are starting out, who is paying for those weekend treats? Are you cash flow positive already? Then get off your butt and back to work. Leisure must be earned and you’re not there yet. Your smart phone is your guardian angel: always by your side, never sleeps.
9. Friends, family and significant others are distractions
Your mother is not a valid test market. If it’s not a potential alliance, customer, provider or employee – it’s a waste of relationship time. For all practical purposes your “support group” is there for when you burn out. If you follow this list long enough, burn out you will.
10. Under no circumstances: never, ever meditate
Quiet time. Me time. Yoga. They clear your head and give you perspective on what really matters – a no-no for increasing your stress levels. In the same line, stop reading websites like ThinkSimpleNow, lest it bring you sanity. See your ambition rising? Great, it works!
Mathematician Gustav Jacobi had a maxim to solve hard problems: “Invert, always invert”. I leave you with the task of figuring out how to become “joyfully balanced”. . .
Stressed? Let us know in the comments below what other stress tricks have worked for you!
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Lack of sleep will certainly slow you down and make you stressed faster than almost anything else. A solid 7-8 hours a night will make every waking hour much more productive!
I think step 2 is the one that got me (gets me still) when I started out.
Thanx for the great article. I am already doing most if not all of these mistakes! 😀 I stopped exercising and hardly see any of my friends. However, some of those ‘bad moves’ I do am forced to do, for example the first one ” Do it all yourself” , I knew right from the start I shouldn’t think I am superman and will be able to handle all the tasks on my own. Delegation and getting some help were the 2 things I was trying to get right from the start…however it wasn’t possible. I couldn’t afford paying for someone to help me on regular basis and none of my friends wanted to help…so I ended up doing everything…and I knew the results won’t be as I wished for..but this is the best I could do.
#3 and #8 are critical. just read an article in forbes, interviewing the countries top 500 ceo’s.
the top advice and findings were the ceo’s who completed their tasks on a steady schedule. not too much, just the same day in and out.
sleep is so important…
also your diet. adding 25% or more of raw (uncooked veggies and fruit) to your diet helps a great deal.
we help start ups build out online and have seen some real train wrecks in this area.
it is so addictive to see your client numbers rising…you love it.
even though you may be the next Facebook or Pinterest super hero, just remember, you are still human.
LOL>>>thanks for the laugh….I chuckled my way through…and I sure needed It….You are 200% Correct…and I am Guilty As Charged Under ALL counts….I plead GUILTY…GUILTY…GUILTY!!!!…Ok…I am very exhausted…and feel a bit cooky right now…thanks for writing this….puts me in check!
Great article! I’ve found I keep slipping back into the first point–“Do it all yourself”. I started my management consulting business in 2002, but it took awhile for me to discover “solopreneur” does not necessarily equal “by yourself”. My best recommendations are: 1) find a reliable virtual assistant; 2) ask if you don’t know how and 3) team up with an accountability partner. It helps!
This post made me laugh. I am just starting out and I am guilty of all of these. The web design made me laugh. We said getting others to help would be easy we want the best so we will do it ourselves. While it looks good it is a constant struggle learning. Time spender big time.
Really good tips! I think step 8 is the one that got me!