How to Overcome Anxiety as a Small Business Owner

During this time of uncertainty, the toughest part for many small business owners is figuring out how to keep their company afloat and how to kickstart things once life begins to normalize. Not many of us, including myself, know what this is going to look like.

I consider myself a small business owner, and I really wanted to write this post to highlight some of the emotions, especially the anxiety, I’ve had to overcome since the pandemic really started to worsen. This may end up being one of the closest to a “Dear Diary” post that I’ll publish. 

The truth is that no one and no business can ever plan for something like this. I don’t care how many articles you read out there that talk about business continuity, no one could have predicted that this was going to happen, and once it did, many small business owners went into a reactionary mode. 

In today’s blog post, here’s what I’ll be talking about:

  • Daily practices that can change your mindset 
  • Taking lessons learned during the COVID-19 crisis and preparing for the future
  • Why accounting/finance should always be top of mind no matter the situation
  • How to keep being your own boss

Daily practices that can change your mindset 

What’ll separate you from the rest is your mindset. I truly believe that. It’s about having grit in the game of entrepreneurship. This isn’t an easy path. If it were, everyone would be doing it, making a shit-ton of money, and succeeding.

Entrepreneurship is a scary and risky path. Your paychecks aren’t guaranteed, and you have to work harder for yourself than you’ve had to for anyone else. More importantly, the amazing thing about running a business is that you’re doing something you’re truly passionate about. You’re building your own dreams. You get both the responsibility and authority to see the entire business through, no matter how many missteps or quick wins you experience along the way. 

It is always up to you. 

Changing your mindset when it comes to taking that leap into entrepreneurship also has to happen consistently while running a business. Here’s what I’ve done that has helped me:

  • Keep blogging. Seriously. This has been my creative outlet for what I’m facing, what I’m hearing colleagues are going through with their own jobs and businesses, and a way for me to create value for my subscribers.
  • Know what is in your control and what isn’t. Relationships are where it’s at in business. It’s not about making someone sign that contract. It’s about the long game and, I’ll say it again, adding value.
  • Don’t stop all marketing efforts. You’ll want to save money now more than ever, but if you can afford to, don’t stop posting on social outlets that you know your target audience is on, and don’t stop interacting with them. You can do something as simple as an Instagram Live session.
  • Try to stay as positive as possible. Be grateful for what you have as you navigate this time of uncertainty. Practicing gratitude is a great way to change your mindset from looking at everything with the lens of “what do I not have?” to “what do I have that I’m extremely thankful for?”

Taking lessons learned during the COVID-19 crisis and preparing for the future

This has been an incredibly unfortunate time for the unemployment rate, and a TON of small businesses are even having a tough time tapping into the PPP fund. But here’s the thing: this is also a great opportunity for you to start thinking more creatively about your business and, more specifically, figuring out where you may need to innovate to diversify your income. 

Here are some quick ideas:

  • Go digital with what you can.
  • Provide a convenient way for customers to buy from you and interact with your brand.
  • Know your subject matter expertise and capitalize on that through stellar content, consulting, and e-courses.
  • Buy products on clearance and resell at a higher price. I’m not talking toilet paper here or hand sanitizer. I’m talking about actual products. You can check out GaryVee’s model on garage sales arbitrage here.
  • Turn your blog posts into amazing ebooks that you can sell.
  • Start a membership site for the raving fans of your products/services as a way for them to interact with you directly on a weekly basis.
  • Always be transparent. Don’t just sell, sell, sell but look at where you can truly create value for your target audience and follow through with a great experience. 
  • Don’t think that “free” is the only way to go. Let’s face it: we don’t value things we get for free as much as the things we pay for. Figure out a good price point and go from there.

Why accounting/finance should always be top of mind no matter the situation

Knowing what’s in the pipeline for sales and revenue for the year or even the month is just as important as knowing exactly what is happening with the cash you have right now. In my recent blog post on the “7 Lessons I’ve Learned About Entrepreneurship and Remote Work,” I highlighted the following:

“Living well below your means makes sense, right? If you can’t afford to buy fancy cars or clothes and even go out to eat every single night, don’t do it. Yet, so many of us do. I’m not here to lecture anyone reading this, but it’s so important to save where you can. What’s scary is that more than 47% of Americans would struggle to come up with $400 to cover an unplanned expense.

In fact, 21% of working Americans aren’t saving at all and 38% cite that they have too many expenses. Here’s the thing: both of these are within YOUR control… developing a financial model that supports the health of your business as well as your lifestyle needs is important. And as a business owner, you do have to pay yourself first. I’ve always been a believer of these things and have continued to build a model for how my business operates to support these beliefs.” 

And, more importantly, here are a few tips by Fundera:

How to keep being your own boss

I’ve always said to friends, family, and colleagues that it’d be difficult for me to go back to work for someone else but that, if I ever did, it’d be because I was really excited about the product/service and believed that my role there could make a big impact.

That being said, once you’ve ventured down the entrepreneurial path, the idea of having to work for someone else could be a huge drag. So keeping on that path may mean that you have to pick up additional side gigs, freelancing opportunities, one-off consulting gigs, etc. 

The point here is that you are making an effort to do what you must to generate the income that’s lost during a time like this. Know that you should keep doing what you are good at, so don’t try to pick up side gigs that are really far out of your expertise or things that you don’t enjoy doing. You’ll be miserable doing that. Stay focused. Keep finding ways to do what you love and make a living doing that.

Wrapping it up

I hate sounding like a broken record, but I really believe that now is THE time. In fact, it’s YOUR time. Find the gaps and opportunities that you are not capitalizing on. It doesn’t matter if you run a marketing firm or you sell tee shirts. Digitize what you can. Make it easy to do business with you.

Dissect your business as much as you can into all the different ways that you can add value for your target audience and push them to buy from you. To put things into perspective, Amazon reported strong Q2 profits. You don’t have to be a big company to figure it all out. You just have to be creative about it, understand your customers, and go from there. 

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