Self Care March 13, 2020

How do you deal with anxiety in becoming an entrepreneur


Hey IH,

Interested to know how people overcome self-doubt, imposter syndrome, and general anxiety in their pursuit of financial freedom.

I've been trying to learn to code and come up with ideas for building a business, however I find it hard to sustain this practice as I keep getting trapped in negative thought patterns and feeling that I am incompetent. It seems easy to hit a brick wall and immediately resign yourself to thinking "I'll stick to the day job."

Also any insight on how to collaborate/reach out to others for JVs in spite of such anxieties would be cool to hear.

Cheers everyone

  1. 9

    I struggle with these things sooooo much, too. As do a lot of different people. Not sure if there's really a "solution", but some things I've found to be helpful...

    1. Spend less time on the internet. I know this is hard given what we do. But damn I can't even count how many times I thought I had a good idea, or a unique way of saying something, only to come to the internet and see 45 people doing cooler things than me and then getting instantly depressed and instantly wanting to shut my project down. I feel like, for me, spending too much time on the internet is a recipe for trying to make my project BETTER than other projects... but if I develop with my wifi turned off then I end up trying to make my project what I actually want it to be without comparing it to anything.
    2. Just do it. Shipping stuff has seemed to curtail the above feelings for me, at least to a degree. It's still uncomfortable, but a little less uncomfortable each time.
    3. Talk to someone. I'd be happy to listen if you'd like. I think these feelings are massively calmed when talking to other real humans, when you can start to realize that we're all so similar. These feelings aren't unique to us. And what's more, just putting words to feelings that you're having takes a lot of their power away.
    1. 2

      Hi heylorenzut, thanks for the kind words. Your first point seems kinda obvious now that I think about it, but I hadn't considered it much. I assumed measuring your ideas against other peoples' would help refine/strengthen them but in fact it makes you lose sight of what makes your idea unique to you, even though it may be inferior in other regards (hope that made sense lol).

      Must try to stop agonising over details ...

      Agreed. I do find it hard to talk about my own difficulties since it feels like I'm burdening people, but I may send you message since it's something I need to get over eventually.

      1. 2

        Please do! You 100% would not be burdening me cuz it's something I really enjoy talking about :)

        1. 1

          Can I jump on that "send you a message" train too?
          I've recently started battling anxiety, for the first time in my life really. I am not liking it very much.

          1. 1

            Absolutely. Shoot me an email (listed on my profile page). I have zero professional experience in any capacity lol, but 100% happy to lend you my ears and my heart.

  2. 3

    Some things that help me stick to it:

    Realise that repeated failure is part of the game for everyone.

    At any point in your game don’t dwell on success or failure. Instead plan your next move.

    For example no one signs up to your newsletter: next move is analysis to find out why. This could involve asking for help here.

    Pretend that your time spent doing this is just your day job. So if you work 40h week do another 10 but pretend it’s for your normal job so you care less about the results.

    For seeing what the competition are doing better and feeling depleted, realise there are many ways to niche up markets. There is a recent IH podcast on this plus read some of 4 steps to the Epithany although that’s a heavier read.

  3. 3

    Some things I've found to be helpful in my day to day:

    1. Meditation helps - I highly recommend Headspace. I found that after 2-3 months of consistent meditation, the inevitable seemingly 'catastrophic' problems that happen when you run a business became a lot less dramatic to me. And once your panic is gone, the problem becomes a lot easier to solve.

    2. Take care of your self consistently. Go to the gym, eat healthily, make sure you have the space and time to take care of yourself. There will inevitably be times when you have to sacrifice this 'selfcare' time, but if you take care of yourself consistently, you'll definitely be able to weather through them. I cannot emphasize this enough.

    3. Break down large problems into small, manageable steps.

    4. Detach your identity from your business and from the need to succeed. You are an entrepreneur, and that means you will have a lot of failures and a sprinkle of successes. To me, what really defines an entrepreneur isn't their success, but their grit (during successes and failures!).

    5. Learn something that's not related to your business. Learn to play chess, rollerskate, whatever. Have a hobby.

  4. 3

    No real answer, but one mindset that has helped me - action while keeping expectations low.

  5. 3

    I definitely struggle with this at times. I am no expert but have noticed with myself that I am definitely healthier if I don't hinge so much of my identity on my career. I am healthiest and also better at the job if I take some space away from work / computer and have some silence, nature time, friend time, etc.

  6. 3

    I've built a list of reminders for myself. Things like:

    1. I've already built this and supported 100+ users at work, doing it for customers is no different.
    2. What's the worst that happens? You launch, you fail, you learn. This is not life or death. As long as you don't borrow huge amounts of money there is literally no way you can come out of this worse off.
    3. Never launching is worse than launching and flopping. If you never launch you never actually know if it was a good or bad idea.
    4. One of my motivators is to be in a financial position to provide scholarships to under-privileged youth and to provide flexible working hours for single parents.
    5. Launching a startup and succeeding or failing is the equivalent of an MBA. This is all just school work.

    A lot of the quotes that pop up while Indie Hackers is loading are great. Just take screenshots of those.

    If you store each reminder as an image on your phone, then it becomes really easy to swipe through them. Or, what I did is wrote a small script that pulls a random reminder from an SQLite DB and reads it out as text-to-speech.

    1. 3

      Funny enough, IH recommended this post as related to yours:
      There's a lot of good reminders in there too. People earning a living from their product are suffering the same concerns you are.

      The other thought I have is: there is a huge [HUGE] amount of software, websites, and SaaS out there that you & I have never heard of. We all compare ourselves to Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc; the ubiquitous names everyone has heard of. So, it seems we feel we're not a success unless we're "that big". The reality is, if you have 100+ users and you're paying yourself a living wage then you're doing really well. If you have even 1 person willing to pay for what you've created then you've created something of value.

      1. 2

        Haha it seems both big and small fish alike suffer from these issues...
        That's somewhat reassuring.
        Really tough to put it into perspective but I'll try to remind myself that there are opportunities for everyone willing to apply themselves.
        I like the sound of the automated reminders too, might attempt something similar - must help to instill them.

  7. 1

    Hey there, I recommend writing down what you're good at, and then everyday, tell yourself what you're good at, and what you can improve on. This will get you into a positive mindset and will allow you to focus better.

  8. 1

    I'd really recommend the podcast from Pieter Levels.

    I was listening to it the other day and I launched the first thing in 6 months or so.

  9. 1

    Sometimes I would feel confident when we get a considerable sign ups in a day, sometimes down when there is little to no signups.

    I think this a process you need to go through. Eventually you become better and better at what you do, your product improves over time, the awareness of your product increases as you do marketing and sales, and if you deliver a great product + great customer service... you'll get the success you deserve.

    What I'm saying is... don't see the results that you're getting today or tomorrow. But think long term. If I keep doing this and focusing my efforts on this, what is going to happen in 1 year from now? 2 years from now? 5 years?

    If you're still at a day job, I'd suggest to keep it and work on your project part time until you get to a level where your project's income is equal to that of your day job salary.

  10. 1

    Sometimes i have a imposter syndrome too. But there was a milestones that boost my confidence so much, that was when i finished my first "proper" web app.

    It's a simple web app for personal purpose but im pretty proud with the result even though no one use it other than me, it's (it's youtube clone)

    After that im pretty confidence with my skill even though im still considering my self as a beginner.

    Keep learning but don't compare your self with others. The product than you want to build might has been built better by other people 3 years ago with > 5 years experience. Don't be discourage, we just started our journey.

    If you have not, build and finish your first proper project. Simple enough to be build alone but hard enough to be proud of. Maybe you could try to clone the stripped version of already running SAAS. Just ship something, it doesn't need to be commercial projects.

    On the way you might meet a problem that might result to business idea.

    That's what work for me from my experience.

    1. 1

      Hey mig13, love the idea behind your site (YT can be counterproductive with all the recommended videos and stuff).

      That's a hurdle I haven't really overcome, since I have followed along with some tutorials but the projects I've built during those are very similar to the tutorial content and so they don't feel very rewarding.

      I need to attempt something more personal and try not to be a perfectionist about it, lol.

      Really appreciate the advice!

  11. 0

    Rule no.1 of entrepreneurship: “the moment you self doubt, you lost the game”
    Rule no.2 : if you somehow managed to doubt yourself, tell yourself what did you exactly think of when you began this journey and in a way you will actually have no more self doubt.

    Ignore the below para if not coding interested:
    Also, if you’re learning to code, I’m a game dev and looking forward to teach people how to code for free on a YouTube channel via recreating apps games mechanics which I wouldn’t plug here ...just dm me.

    1. 2

      Powerful stuff,
      I do love games and am trying to learn programming so I will give you a shout.

      1. 1

        <3 just saw your mail, typing reply now <3