By: Phil Drinkwater Business Coaching- https://phildrinkwater.coach
Entrepreneurs, and particularly those new to creating a business, can suffer from the overwhelm when seeing the huge mountain of challenges that they have in front of them.
From learning new marketing strategies, to finding ways to make sales, to running the business and creating the product to sell, it’s enormous.
How can they help themselves past this?
Traits that help entrepreneurs
There’s no doubt that certain traits will help a business founder succeed:
- Persistence; the trait of getting up and trying again, when you’ve not succeeded.
- Positive mindset; focusing your energy on what’s going well, instead of what’s not.
- Strong innovation; allowing yourself to be creative and not follow the herd
- Risk taking; believing that everything will work out, even if you’re not clear of the path forward
However, if they never take the first step due to a feeling of fear, stress and overwhelm, they will never be the business owner they dream of.
What’s the real challenge here then?
As a business coach, I understand that it’s important to solve the correct problem. Solving the wrong one – via an incorrect goal or destination – will not gain the entrepreneurial success that’s desired.
The difficulty entrepreneurs face isn’t actually the amount of work to do, but the overwhelm about that work, often at the amount they have to learn before they can complete it, and the stress which their emotional systems take on as part of that.
In order to allow them to become an incredibly successful entrepreneur with a new and growing business, the goal is to reduce the overwhelm, rather than to reduce the overall amount of work.
What is overwhelm?
Overwhelm is the feeling that there’s too much in front of you and that it’s an impossible hill to climb. This feeling isn’t an objective truth; it’s just an opinion based on prior experiences in life and how you approached them.
It also contains a limiting belief – in this case “I can’t” or “it’s impossible”. I can’t is a motivation killer because it’s something you’ve allowed yourself to become convinced of; it’s now a belief.
Personally, I know can’t jump 18 feet in the air. It’s OK to say “I can’t” in that situation. However, “I can’t” should never be used when something is possible. Instead you may choose to say “I can, but it will be challenging at times”.
How to reduce overwhelm using steps
So we need to turn the list of tasks from something that’s “impossible” to something that’s achievable, and that will result in your new business venture growing over time.
Let’s take an example.
Once upon a time, you struggled to ride a bike. Now you can do it. What happened? Did you just go from one to the other without any fear? No. You took steps, and you paced yourself.
If you were in the UK at least, maybe one step was to have a bike with a stabiliser. But as part of riding a bike with stabiliser, you still had to take a set of steps to get there:
- Lift one leg over the saddle
- Put the leg on the peddle
- Hold onto the handlebars
- Put other foot on the pedal
- Start pedaling
And if you look at step 3, you can break that down into even smaller steps:
- Move arms so hands are just above the handlebars
- Grip the handlebars
The reality is that you can always break a single step into a smaller set of steps.
How do steps help?
There are three key ways that creating steps help to grow a new business venture:
- The smaller the step, the more achievable it appears.
- It’s easier to evaluate the knowledge you’re missing, rather than having this vague list of things you “can’t do”.
- The business owner can purely focus on the next step, while ignoring the rest
How to use pacing for business success
What is pacing?
Pacing can be choosing a specific set pace, but it can also mean choosing a pace that’s relevant to this situation.
Let’s imagine we’re out for a hike. We usually walk at 3mph. If we go uphill at 10 degrees, we don’t expect to keep to 3mph – we reduce maybe to 2mph. If the hill increases to 20 degrees, the pace might reduce to 1mph.
Now let’s say we encounter a rock face, we might need to get the ropes out and climb the cliff. Our pace might slow to 0.1mph. Again, we don’t expect to continue on at 3mph.
What pace is relevant right now?
It’s very easy to assume that we should always go through our business growth tasks at the equivalent of 3mph, but that can be incredibly difficult. We can beat ourselves up if a seemingly simple task takes a full week, either because we lack knowledge, or because it makes us feel anxious for some reason.
Accepting that any pace – no matter how small – is fine for us can help to reduce the pressure and overwhelm.
We know we’ll get to the top of the mountain, and it might take 1 hour if it’s a relatively small mountain that we know well, or it might take 10 hours if we need to find the right path, it’s steep at points, and there are some scary bits.
Both are OK and we should praise ourselves in both circumstances! Each accomplishment – regardless of the amount of time it took – is worthy of congratulations.
Always praise the accomplishment, not the speed.
Pacing plus steps
Putting both together gives us a new way to conquer the hill that’s overwhelming us while we’re building our new company.
When we feel overwhelmed or anxious, we can choose to:
- Slow our pace right down while we allow our feeling of overwhelm to subside.
- Break the tasks in front of us into smaller and smaller pieces, until we don’t feel anxious or overwhelmed about any step because we can see they are all achievable.
Typical human behaviour is that we should keep going – just carry on – regardless of how we feel, but this leads to procrastination as our emotions say “NO MORE!”.
This system involving pacing and breaking down tasks into smaller steps will give us the perseverance to carry on, no matter how steep the climb or confusing the path becomes. There’s always a way forward, and the next step is always possible because it can broken down.
Create your new venture slowly
Aspiring entrepreneurs typically run forward as quickly as possible through desperation or the excitement that their entrepreneurial spirit brings, but the business plan for a successful entrepreneur should be full of speed ups, slow downs and steps forward that are achievable for you, such that your emotions never become overwhelmed.
Choose to take the path that leads successfully to your final destination, rather than the one which appears to promise reward but quickly delivers failure.