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How Starting My Business Pacified My Anxieties.

When I started my business, What Next, Coach?, after leaving my ‘Big 4’ audit career of 4.5 years, I was excited about all the young professionals I could potentially help. I lunged straight in and soon found that my life would never be the same again.

So far I’ve had a good run – I’ve been featured on the Daily mail, invited to 10 Downing St and been on East London Radio but none of these can take away the fact that being in business constantly challenges all my insecurities, though, not without the opportunity to overcome and leverage them.

My usual sources of anxiety are those experiences that involve me putting myself out there in unfamiliar ways risking humiliation and looking like a failure to everyone watching. Some of my examples are:

  • Running workshops: What if no one shows up? What if feedback was awful? What if people don’t think I’m as good as I know I am? Tip: Stop yourself from asking “What If?” unless you can put a positive spin on it.

  • The necessity of shameless self-promotion: This was a huge trigger of my impostor syndrome – everyone knows me as an auditor/chartered accountant. Will they trust me to coach them? What if they think I’m not good enough? But they need to know what I have to offer and how to get it.

  • Next month’s rent: Without a guaranteed pay-check at the end of every month, how can I keep up with bills and rent? I don’t have the luxury of siting back and waiting for my customers to give me their money – I have to go out there and find them.

  • Needing help and being comfortable asking for it: Help to promote my business, help to review parts of my business, help to figure certain aspects of my life out. I’ve been burned in the past so some trust issues there too.

Hopefully, at this point you’re saying to yourself, “Thank God, I’m not the only one!”

So how has starting my business helped me pacify my usual anxiety triggers? Here’s what I’ve realised:

  • Just do it once – no matter your fears about taking your next step or putting yourself out there in the most daunting ways, I promise, it gets easier after the first time. Easier in the sense that you’re now familiar with what to expect and the fear of the unknown is no longer there.

  • I define my success parameters – in the case of my workshops, I would have been initially worried about numbers because of course I want people to show up but the value I aim to deliver is more important.

  • Everything you want is on the other side of fear – When you follow the path your dreams carve out for you, there are many opportunities waiting for you but courage is the key to unlocking them. You have to dare to explore what could be in order to attain what could be.

  • It’s okay to get it wrong the first time (or first few times!) – Not every idea you have will work and that’s exactly how it is. More people will be inspired and impressed by the fact you started and will want to help you get it right next time around. Remain authentic and flexible and you’ll get there eventually.

  • Your brand will attract who it will attract – I want my business to have an international brand and serve all races but I’m Nigerian-British and as such I naturally attract other BAME young professionals. I used to get hung up on this but I realised how silly it is to waste brain matter worrying about this because it’s not totally within my control. Some parts of your branding are within your control so you can tweak those parts to get your ideal customers e.g. use of certain terminology in promotional material

  • Believe in something bigger than yourself – For me, my Christian faith underpins this. If I didn’t have the belief and trust that God is watching out for me and working out my very best life to top up my earthly efforts, I would totally give up because I know there are certain heights I can’t access without divine opportunities and favour.

  • Your purpose is not running away – The pressure to have it all figured out or have everything running like clockwork in your personal and professional life is one of the biggest deceptions of our time, in my opinion. Ask the generations before us and I’m sure they’ll tell you that everything is rarely 100% at the same time – you just get more comfortable with life’s rhythms.

If you take nothing else way from this post, I leave you with this: Be courageous, don’t fuss over what you can’t control and relentlessly chase after what makes your heart sing. It always works out in the end, if you’ll just hang on till the end.

Abuja, Nigeria

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