Stress is a serious business. Recently, I was hospitalized in Riga for almost a week with a severe infection. The doctors told me that one of the main causes of my illness was stress. So how do you get rid of anxiety? While being completely stress-free is almost impossible for us, I want to share my recent experience on how to deal with stress as a micropreneur.

This is not one of those canned “eat healthy, sleep well and do some light exercise” posts about stress. I want to share with you real solutions that worked for me, and I think can work for you if your business is the source of your anxiety.

Stress Kills

Those six days I spent at that hospital in Riga, and the slow recovery that came afterward, ranks as the worst experience of my life.

I think I read some time ago that stress is not necessarily bad, that there is good stress and bad stress… And I honestly think that’s bullshit. I am responsible enough for doing my job and meeting my deadlines. I don’t need that “good stress“, thank you.

There are different types of stress, but none of them are good in my opinion. Apart from the work-related stress -that led me to that hospital bed- I had to add the stress of not being properly insured, and the stress of not knowing what was happening to me.

The root of all my problems was the anxiety I had been suffering for weeks. My business, once something exciting, had become a terrible burden for me.

Being an entrepreneur is not just a job. It’s a lifestyle. An amazing journey that can bring you a lot of joy. But also a very demanding occupation. One that can expose you to a lot of stress. So it’s important to talk about it, and be prepared when it hits you.

Dealing With Stress As A Micropreneur

The Dark Side Of Entrepreneurship

There’s this image of an entrepreneur as an invincible, god-like creature. A young, passionate, Steve-Jobsesque visionary building his or her company from an indie garage. Entrepreneurship stories tend to emphasize this romantic view, and cover only the successful moments and key milestones.

Most podcast and blogs will frequently ask the interviewees about their “a-ha!” moments, but rarely about their sleepless nights or panic attacks. Obviously, the goal of those podcasts and blogs is encouraging aspiring entrepreneurs, so stress is not a sexy topic to discuss.

However, I think we are doing a disservice to the community by not talking more openly about it. Eventually, every entrepreneur will have to deal with it, or perhaps go through an anxiety crisis. While every person -regardless of their job- may be subject to stress, I believe entrepreneurs are particularly exposed to it.

Even if you have a natural resistance to stress, and are used to work under pressure, all that tension acummulates inside of you, until finally exploding. And when it does, it’s not a pretty spectacle, and may have severe consequences for your health, your relationships or your personal life.

Truth is: we’ll all have to cope with stress sooner or later. Today, while having lunch with a friend and fellow micropreneur, she told us how she went through a period of extreme anxiety when some former co-founders of her company tried to steal it from her. And how being involved in a long, awkward trial almost destroyed her.

Her words made me understand that, while these stories are different, they all have the same common denominator. And I think it’s positive to talk about that to realize that we all go through similar problems… And eventually get over them.

Sources Of Anxiety And How To Deal With Stress

Days before falling ill, I was completely overwhelmed. As you may know, launching a business on your own is hard. You are the ultimate responsible and, especially at the beginning -until you manage to automate things- the business is you.

That alone is enough to lead you to a stress episode. However, my situation was also the result of a series of bad decisions. So let me give you some recommendations, based on what I’ve learned, to help you avoid stress as the sole owner of your business.

Dealing With Stress As A Micropreneur

Focus

The day I fell ill, I had just come back home at 10pm from the coworking center. It was a long, 12 hours workday. As my business Tu Empresa En Estonia was still generating a modest income, and I wanted to surprise my partner with a new macbook pro for our anniversary, I decided to collaborate with the Polish Software Development Academy as a Java mentor to get some extra cash.

As a result, not only I was spending the mornings working on Tu Empresa En Estonia, and taking care of some pending stuff for Digital Leaves in the afternoons. I was also teaching Java during the evenings too. Oh! And don’t forget the daily stoic and writing regularly here on Micropreneur Life.

All that multitasking was not only preventing me from progressing more on my main business, but also was taking a toll on my health. A lot of pressure, a lot of work, and a lot of stress.

So one of my main pieces of advices for dealing with stress as a micropreneur is: try to focus on one thing, and just one thing. Avoid moonlighting.

It might be ok to do it for a short time, or for a very specific goal. But if you positively need to work on several projects, make sure to leave room for relaxing and enjoying some free time.

Delegate

I know it’s difficult to delegate for us, micropreneurs. First, as we are used to do everything ourselves, we end up being very picky about hiring VAs or freelancers. In our minds, nobody will be able to do the job with the same level of quality and detail.

Secondly, hiring someone is expensive and, especially at the beginning, we think we cannot affor to spend that money if we want our business to thrive. Curiously, experience has shown me the opposite is true. As soon as you have money to pay a salary, you should hire someone to take care of the tasks that require more technical expertise, are more repetitive and tedious, or you are just not good at.

Related to this point, being stingy is one of the worst things you can do with your business. Even if you cannot afford the best, investing in quality professionals is investing in peace of mind.

Unfortunately, I never truly believed this until I experienced it myself. I was outsourcing the most technically challenging parts of the business to an external company. I did this because it was cheaper and easier than hiring someone.

But the relationship you have with an outsourcing company is different from the relationship you have with an employee. More specifically, you have a closer, more immediate connection with the latter. They won’t charge you extra money for the time you spend with them at the phone or exchanging emails. You can easily reach them in an emergency. And you have more control on deadlines and quality of work.

I finally hired a good professional, and that was the single most important factor in setting me free from stress. Trust me. Every hour you spend searching for a qualified employee is an hour well invested.

Dealing With Stress As A Micropreneur

Automate

Automate, automate, automate. Automation is key if you want your business to prosper.

I personally think every micropreneur or solopreneur should have a technical background or, at least, learn to code, and get some technical expertise in how to manage and run a server.

Wait, you just told me that you should learn to delegate, and hire professionals as soon as possible. Are you telling me now that I should build and maintain the product myself?

Well, not in the long run of course, but at the beginning, it’s going the be just you. Until you can generate some income, you need to be able to put together something that works to attract some customers. If you can code and deploy your initial product, you can start with minimal costs.

And, most importantly, a technical background will give you the ability to automate things. It’s amazing what you can do with some regular expressions and a script. Especially at the beginning, when spending time building the product, you should prioritize the parts that eliminate manual tasks and free you from doing repetitive stuff. Every hour you spend coding a piece of software to automate something can save you hundred of hours later.

I’m becoming quite obsessed with automation lately. In fact, automation has been so important for me in my last business, I’ve even created a fictional robot creature called “Robotito” and listed it as part of the team. It’s that important.

Dealing With Stress As A Micropreneur

Meditate

Stress clouds your mind. That’s a proven fact. When we are under stress, it’s difficult to think clearly and we tend to focus on the immediate and ignore the long-term stuff. Our organism is on constant alert, and we react to things with fight or flight responses.

Also, when you are suffering from anxiety, your mind is a cacophony of thoughts. A friend described that to me as being filled with “parasite thoughts”. I think it’s a very accurate description. Eventually, all that noise and fear ends up paralyzing you.

In my case, it got to a point where I was not able to open the Mail app. The mere thought of going through my inbox made me sick. It would take all my power of will to be able to do it. Obviously, that only made the problem worse, as I was not taking care of my business as I should.

I was paralyzed.

I have been meditating for quite some time now, but I decided to take it more seriously lately, and it worked. Meditation is like going to the gym. You won’t see the results right away. It requires practice and persistence. But give it some time, and it will change you.

I use the Headspace app, and I love the relaxing, gentle voice of the narrator. It really helps me to focus. And that’s precisely what meditation can bring to your life: clarity and peace of mind. It can give you tools to fight when you are overwhelmed by stress.

So my advice would be: try to meditate or, at least, some techniques to relax and breathe. In my case, I was surprised on how effective it was for me.

Dealing With Stress As A Micropreneur

Enjoy

Last but not least, it’s important to enjoy the process of growing your business. When the initial rush of excitement of launching a new business has dwindled, it’s easy to forget why we started it in the first place.

I remember that, during one of the most stressful periods of launching Tu Empresa En Estonia, my husband told me: “Why are you so anxious? This is your business and it’s working! You are supposed to be enjoying the whole thing”.

And you know what? He was right. I was so stressed I forgot that I had managed to build a company that was slowly but steadily growing. I was earning enough money to be able to hire my first employees, and the future looked promising. This company is something I built from scratch, with literally zero resources. I should have been happy and proud.

So don’t let anxiety deprive you of that. You should enjoy the whole process, and be happy and proud when all your efforts pay off.

Disconnect

We also need to enjoy our free time. Sometimes, we actually need to force ourselves to have some free time. We can get so obsessed with our businesses, we forget it’s not who we are. We are not our job, or our business. You really need some time to disconnect and give some rest to your mind and body.

We are surrounded by screens these days. When we are not in front of our laptops -or even our iPads– we are looking at our smartphones. All those screens don’t make us happier.

Lately, I am starting to experiment with tech-detox days. The idea came from one of our friends in Latvia. We had taken the day out and traveled to a natural, wild beach in Lilaste. He mentioned how that day was the perfect opportunity to do a technology detox, and I liked the term. 🙂

So at least one day of the week, we try to stay away from screens, laptops and gadgets. We take this opportunity to go hiking, or biking, or just going out for a walk.

So enjoy the journey. It’s yours, and it’s only going to happen once. But every now and then, do things just for fun, leave the house far behind, disconnect.

Conclusion

After going through a stressful period that led me to the hospital, I decided to write a post about how to deal with stress as a micropreneur, solopreneur or small business owner.

Being the only one in charge of your business is more than a job, it’s actually a lifestyle. And in my opinion, a lifestyle that implies periods of stress and anxiety sooner or later. I also think that this topic is not something we talk about easily. It’s hard, and sometimes embarrasing, to discuss about it.

I wanted, however, to show that it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and a problem that’s more common that we think. If we all added our voice, we would help other entrepreneurs to cope with it better, or even avoid it altogether. Hope my story inspired or helped you!

Let's talk!

Years ago, I quit my 9 to 5 job and became a freelancer first, then a solopreneur, and finally a digital nomad. Managing my company back in Spain was a nightmare until I discovered the e-Residency program and opened my company in Estonia. That changed my life.

After some years managing my business, I know the tricks of the trade. I can offer you advice on how to become location independent, found an European company you can manage online while traveling, and avoid unnecessary costs. If you are ready to take the leap, but have some doubts or don't know where to start, let's get in touch.

Let's do this!

❤️ Did you enjoy this article?

If you found this content useful, consider giving some love back by making a small bitcoin, ethereum or bitcoin cash donation. Thank you!

BTC: 331u8dLejzfssKY3cXm1DPPvtaibaS4S9z

ETH: 0x994ECE4B48144f5541B34D5f15a3D671e51D7E05

BCH: 1KejtFCcrv7X2ZgovpLgs6pwgqDo1KmrmS

(Visited 84 times, 1 visits today)

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *