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7 Small Steps For Entrepreneurs To Overcome Being Overwhelmed

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how to stop getting overwhelmed

It’s inevitable. That disorienting feeling washes over you at the worst times. You have too much to do, you’re burning through cash, you don’t have much help, and others’ outsized expectations make your head spin and your stomach churn.

I’m not sure I’ve ever met a founder who hasn’t experienced the intense feeling of entrepreneurial overwhelm at one time or another.

The question isn’t how to get through this paralyzing feeling, it’s how to overcome it more quickly so you can focus and get back on track.

You have probably read or heard the same trite advice time and again. Get some sleep. Exercise. Meditate. Eat some fruits and vegetables. Take a break. Great advice, but not overly helpful.

I’ve interviewed and or coached over 200 Founding CEOs. Here’s 7 things that have worked for them:

1. Write down your why

Dan Shapiro, CEO and Co-founder of Glowforge, always starts his board meetings by reading the company mission, out loud. He says it annoyed his investors at first, but they gradually appreciated the constant reminder of the company’s why. They needed to be reminded regularly. So do you.

The key is to write it down and post it in multiple places. Use some index cards and tape it to your laptop, your bathroom mirror, the inside of your refrigerator, and or the dashboard of your car. You might be surprised how helpful it is to keep your mind focused on your mission in such a visible manner.

“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.” – William Barclay

2. Discard your hidden distractions

Distractions rob us of our energy. They are like appliance vampires that are constantly plugged in and cost you big electric bills.

Put the book piles away, throw out the garbage, and shred piles of unimportant paper. Turn off watch chimes, email alerts, smartphone push notifications, Facebook, and the endless electronic noise that add up to pretty significant stress triggers.

Just get rid of the pointless physical and digital junk that surrounds you and you will start to feel better almost immediately.

 

3. Prune your people tree

We all have them. There are people in your life that take more from you than they give. They could be a friend, a relative, family member, or even an employee that creates that pit in your stomach every time you hear their voice or see their number appear on your phone.

Temporarily remove these people from your life. Let them know that you’ll be busy over the next 2-3 weeks and will be unavailable to meet, talk, or engage. Don’t accept that coffee appointment, lunch date, or Skype chat. Prune these people from your life, just long enough for you to regain your balance.

 

4. Banish your brain baggage

It’s common to be told to “talk to someone” when you are stressed or feeling overwhelmed. Fine advice, but not altogether helpful for entrepreneurs. What you need is help getting stuff out of your brain. As an entrepreneur you accumulate a bunch of junk in your head: new ideas, people to meet, tasks to complete, research to conduct, etc.

Get someone to facilitate just two 30 minute sessions with you. They ask you questions. They capture your responses on a flipchart or whiteboard. They take pictures of this info and upload it into your Evernote app.

It’s hard to do this yourself. You just need someone to help you clean out some of the brain junk and brain gems so they can find a temporary home outside your head while your mind rejuvenates. This works wonders.

 

5. Refocus your resources

Entrepreneurs are action takers. You like to take care of things yourself. You forget to refocus the resources around you to work on those things that you don’t like to do. When you have to spend hours on things that you don’t enjoy, it’s often a huge contributor to the snowball effect of overwhelm.

If you don’t have a huge team, ask a family member or friend for some temporary help. See if your co-founder can handle those tasks that don’t bring you joy. Find someone on your team who needs some professional development and really likes doing those things you hate. Just try to refocus your resources in a way that gets you working on what you love, even if it’s just one thing.

 

6. Switch up your surroundings

It’s truly amazing what happens when you work from a different location, even a different corner of your office. Your entire perspective begins to shift. Go to the lobby of your building. Use your phone as a hotspot and work from a park for a few days. Hang out on the rooftop. Set up shop at a local museum café. Work from your local library for a week. Coffee shop hop for a week. Meet with your team on the top of a local hill, mountain, pond boat launch, or even a sandy beach.

Just find unique surroundings that stimulate your brain differently long enough for your body and mind to relax, recharge, and remove the familiar sights and sounds that remind you of the typical places where overwhelm occurs.

“I think it’s important to get your surroundings as well as yourself into a positive state – meaning surround yourself with positive people, not the kind who are negative and jealous of everything you do.” – Heidi Klum

7. Work your one small win

You crave traction. You long for progress. You just want some indicator that your business is headed in the right direction. Give it to yourself. Work toward one small win. Forget the big, lofty, disruptive goals that drive your every conscious thought. Get real and reduce the size of your expectations to one small weekly win that will tell your mind that progress is occurring.
Any number of these small steps can reduce entrepreneurial overwhelm. Implementing all seven will get you there quicker.

Which small step will you start to implement? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

What do you get when you mash up a decorated U.S. Army intelligence officer with a successful Corporate Executive and a successful Startup CEO? You get a guy named Todd Uterstaedt who is helping a new generation of Startup CEOs scale themselves and their companies. You can listen to these hot, purpose-driven Startup CEOs share their journey from Founder to CEO on Todd's popular podcast, “From Founder To CEO.” Join him at FromFounderToCEO.com and on Twitter @FromFounder2CEO.

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Are you completely new to networking?

Then this article is a great place to start. Networking isn’t hard on paper…you go along to online and in-person meetings, make new connections and build relationships, and those relationships lead to more work so you can grow your business! The challenge is that in reality, it isn’t quite so straightforward, as our emotions get involved and make things much tougher.

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Here’s a few tips to help you embrace every business networking opportunity you get, so you can grow your business and achieve your goals.

Rock up with confidence

If you want to keep those nerves at bay and ooze confidence at networking get-togethers, you’ll need to downplay it rather than seeing it as a big occasion. Try not to put pressure on yourself and see it as a casual meet-up with a bunch of people with similar goals to you. To help you relax in the run-up to the event, be sure to set achievable goals and expectations before you go.

Keep your chin up and your goals in mind – positivity is key. One easy goal for your first networking meeting is very simply to speak to one other person and see where the conversation goes. Introduce yourself and your business, but take the time to listen to their story, too. It’ll only take a few minutes and will be over before you know it, so it’s nothing to fear. You may even enjoy it and want to speak to a few more people, too!

“You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

Where to go networking

If you’ve never been networking before, it might not be very easy to find a group – but only because there’s so much choice and you don’t know where to start your search! Groups come in different sizes and styles, so it’s important to find one that suits you and your business. Informal, formal, big, small… the choice is yours.

For your first meeting, start small to ease yourself in – a big group could prove too daunting, and stop you from feeling comfortable enough to get involved. After all, you want to make a strong first impression!

If you’re wondering which group to opt for in the long-term, give a few a go! Get a feel for them, speak to as many people as you can, and see which one suits! You’ll know when a group feels right for you, and you can see where those all-important relationships are most likely to be built. If a group doesn’t feel like the right for you, give a different one a go.

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