Solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and founders of early stage startups and businesses are frequently overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to get done. Being overwhelmed is a state of mind that is not always firmly planted in reality. It’s a direct result of the choices and actions that we take. There are several strategies for managing choices and actions that can ease these feelings of overwhelm.
If you’re one of the many who are overwhelmed, keep reading to learn about strategies to help you alleviate overwhelm, your workload, worry and stress.
1. Develop a Realistic Action Plan
Many solopreneurs and entrepreneurs are “idea people” and right-brain thinkers. They have an endless supply of innovative ideas for product, customer acquisition, and brand awareness; but they forget one of the most important strategies, which is to get these ideas into a system. They successfully build a business plan and a prototype – and perhaps they’ve sought and obtained investment from angel investors, but many fall short on implementation because they fail to develop a comprehensive action plan. They have too many ideas in their brains, but not in a well-structured plan, which leads to overwhelm over the number of things they need to do to get things done.
When you start your business, simplicity is key. It’s important to make a plan of action, but focus on the execution. Understand your long-term goals, and build an action plan for the first 30, 60 and 90 days based on those goals. Your plan should include the tasks, costs and schedules required to achieve the objectives of the business plan. Our advice is to use a mobile solution such as LifeTopix to record your goals, projects and tasks – and to store supporting information about those projects and tasks.
2. Trust Your Instincts to Make Decisions
Theodore Roosevelt once said,
In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
Solopreneurs and entrepreneurs make a variety of decisions every day and this can be overwhelming. Some take longer than others to make decisions – listing the pros and cons of their options; examining the data; and weighing their options. Decision-making takes time and energy, and when you’re starting a new business, you don’t have historical data to do a complete cost/benefit analysis.
Let go of overwhelm by trusting yourself. Your perseverance, intelligence and ingenuity got you started – now trust it to help you make the best decisions for your company. Take a test and learn approach. Trust your gut and instincts to help you make decisions, and stick with them until the data tells you otherwise.
3. Overcome Fear of Failure
Many solopreneurs and entrepreneurs suffer from fear of failure. It’s a natural feeling and no matter who you are, you’ve felt it in your life. Often times, fear of failure can cause anxiety and hold back progress. In fact, according to the article Fear of Failure by Timothy A. Pychyl, studies show that higher fear of failure leads to procrastination. As a result of your fears, procrastination leads to overwhelm because as you let things go, too many items pile up on your plate.
There are several strategies to overcome fear of failure, but first and foremost, you must have confidence that you’re doing the right things, have the right skills to do them, and know what it takes to achieve your goals.
4. Supercharge Health, Energy and Focus
Entrepreneurship requires strong energy and focus. Giving into distractions and shiny objects destroys focus and promotes overwhelm. Just like most things in life, developing good life habits that stimulate your energy level supports focus.
There are several ways to improve focus; however, some simple changes are to consume brain foods, exercise and learn to meditate.
The best brain foods contain omega-3 fats, and flavonoids and nonflavonoids (anti-oxidant compounds). Berries, salmon, avocados, walnuts, olive oil, spinach, dark chocolate and garlic are good choices. Limit partially hydrogenated oils, refined sugar, fructose, carbohydrates, gluten and processed foods.
Exercise is proven to improve focus, energy and attitude. The proper amount of exercise is debatable; however, guidelines from health organizations recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
These days, even western doctors recommend meditation to reduce stress, to improve focus and to promote better sleep habits. You can learn more about the benefits of meditation from the Mayo Clinic.
5. Get Support from Others
Much of success develops from having the support of your family, friends and others. If you don’t have this support, overwhelm can consume you. Before you start your business, ensure you build clear expectations with your partner, spouse, family members or others. Your time is precious and you will be pulled in many different directions.
Many of the day-to-day things that you accomplish in your personal life fall by the wayside when your business becomes your priority. Consider outsourcing activities such as house cleaning, lawn mowing and personal errands. Make meals easy by using pre-portioned, ready to cook meal delivery services such as Blue Apron or Plated.
6. Seek Advice from Successful Entrepreneurs
Support can also come from fellow solopreneurs and entrepreneurs. Knowing that others are going through the same journey is both encouraging and invigorating – and it can reduce your feelings of overwhelm.
You can find and get to know other entrepreneurs through Meetups, LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, and other networking groups. Attend meetings, find a mentor and pick the brains of others to find effective strategies for your endeavor.
7. Keep Tools Simple
Many solopreneurs tend to jump in immediately with heavyweight cloud-based tech tools to run their businesses. Setting up this infrastructure can lead to overwhelm, especially when you’re flying solo.
It’s typically not necessary to invest in heavyweight marketing, customer support, human resources, operations and sales/CRM systems. Focus first on customer acquisition, then implement these tools as your business grows. You’ll know when it’s the right time.
8. Let Go of Perfectionism
Paul Arden once said,
Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you’ve got, and fix it along the way.
When you’re already spread thin, having a tendency to set high standards can lead to overwhelm and put a stop to progress. Making mistakes and minor imperfections will happen. Don’t agonize over details and become overly cautious. Understand, as a solopreneur or entrepreneur that “perfect is the enemy of good.” Your desire for perfection can result in being your biggest impediment.
9. See the Forest For the Trees
At times, entrepreneurs can get too deep in the details, that they don’t see the big picture. Being hyper-focused on the details can overwhelm you and impede progress. For example, checking the language of an email campaign for the umpteenth time to decide which adjective works best is a waste of time. In the scope of things, it’s important to let go of these types of meaningless details and, instead, move quickly.
10. Consider Finding a Co-founder
If you’ve clearly defined your plan and it appears that realistically, there is simply too much work, you might consider finding a cofounder. As a solopreneur, this might be one of the biggest decisions that you make in your business. A co-founder is much like your life partner – they’ll be with you for the long haul so ensure their personality, energy, passion, skills and expertise complement those that you have.
As a solopreneur or entrepreneur, how do you avoid overwhelm and achieve success? Please share your stories and thoughts in the comments below.