The Entrepreneur’s Greatest Enemy

Anxiety and fear are the greatest enemies of the entrepreneur. You attract what you focus on and anxiety and fear not only focus on negativity, but eat up energy that can be applied more productively. Even worse anxiety and fear trigger the fight or flight portion of your brain which literally shuts down your ability to do abstract thinking. With this region asleep, it is hard to visualize a new revolution.

During the Bubble implosion in 2000, I lived perpetually in this state for 18 months until exhaustion and 16 lost pounds forced me to reconsider. I got nothing done during this time.

In this market there are three things are creating anxiety and fear in the entrepreneur. Economic conditions are poor, leading to stress around funding and revenue. Secondly, the market is in a momentum phase in which each entrepreneur is trying to keep up with the latest exit of momentum exit. Third, by definition start ups have poor visibility and their success depends on non-linear, unpredictable outcomes.

Anxiety is toxic. No one wins and it is a remnant from our evolution when it was essential for our physical survival. Healthy paranoia and respect/understanding of what you don’t know is essential but not energy draining emotion.

Top entrepreneurs use a handful of techniques to manage this.

0) live in the present and stop fearing what horrible outcome might happen. You will always amplify the worst case case. They focus on what they can effect…the here and now.

1) they clearly visualize and define the promised land and communicate it clearly to their employees.

2) they remain focused only the core subset of activities necessary to reach them (versus frantically throwing noodles into the storm).

3) they maintain a calm conviction and confidence in the inevitability of the end success (will the company into existence).

4) appreciate and accept the possibility of the worst case…the Samurai’s would accept death first and then enter battle with no fear.

5) try to take care of themselves by eating and working out as needed.

6) focus on the things that count in your life…family and friends and mentors. Use them as your foundation and sounding board.

So, be aware of your anxiety level. High anxiety helps insure failure with your firm/team and health issues. It leads to nothing productive and it is driven most often by fear of the unknown future. Know where you are going but focus on the tasks at hand and bypass Anxietal Paralysis.