Fight the Fear of Uncertainty

Sep 21, 2020

The right mindset is key to steering your business through turbulent times.

Over the past few months, life got very real – especially for business owners: a global pandemic, economic recession, some industries almost wiped out, worldwide redundancies, and huge debt commitments taken on to enable some companies to stay afloat in these turbulent times. However, amid the instability, no matter how overwhelming the issues seem, as business leaders we need to confront our fears and uncertainties and lead ourselves, our businesses and our teams to a better place. 

Facing these challenges with positivity and action is vital. This is easier said than done when confronted with so much negativity, but there are some simple things you can do to stay in the best frame of mind to steer you and your business back on track to success. Read on to find ways to move you from a place of anxiety and concern to a place of calm and confidence, prepared for all eventualities.

Look forward, through goal setting

Blind panic impairs your vision. So, stay focused by creating actionable goals that can be broken down into achievable pieces.  Define clear, measurable goals. What do you want to achieve? Know exactly where you want to go and don’t be deterred. Identify measurements to determine progress.

Be specific. Ensure your goals are precise – and have an action plan. Develop a roadmap with milestones along the way. Be specific about what you’ll achieve, at each milestone. Commit to your goal and keep with it. Remain motivated to taking every step. Don’t dither, doubt or delay. Enjoy the process and stay focused.

Go public and declare your goals to add accountability. Tell your team, or an individual – or go public through social media or your website.

Have a deadline to focus and ensure success. Choose a realistic date that is achievable, while stretching you to take action now. And don’t forget to celebrate – mark and reward you and your team’s successes. 

Make time for self-care

Caring about your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing is not selfish, but essential. Put your own oxygen mask on first, to ensure you’re in the best state of mind and health to steer your business forward and support others. 

Get enough rest, relaxation and sleep. Being a business owner can feel like a 24/7 job but it’s vital that you recharge effectively otherwise you’ll be on a road to burnout. 

Nourish yourself with healthy food and water, and exercise regularly – for physical as well as mental wellbeing. Training helps you switch focus for a while, giving you a break from business worries and ultimately helps build resilience. 

Find healthy ways to relieve stress, for example through guided meditations and visualisations that encourage and enable you to relax. Clear your mind with walks in nature, or music.

Shift your perspective 

To assist you in seeing any challenge or problem from a different standpoint, use visualisation techniques. These tools can also be used to help keep you motivated to reach your goals. Try the below exercises: 

Create a compelling vision of yourself reaching your goals or achieving success. Imagine you’re living it, and make it multisensory: feeling what you’d feel (e.g. pride, joy, happiness); hearing what you’d hear (applause, congratulations, happy voices), and seeing what you’d see (thriving business, happy customers/family, big house). 

Can’t see the wood for the trees? Look at a problem (the tree) as if it is far away from you. Take a helicopter view, so you can see the big picture (the wood) and see its context (within a wider landscape).  Then, zoom in, and see the details in new ways. Things might not be as they seemed before. You might find the precise detail needed to take the next step. You’re opening your mind to new insights and new perspectives, creating mental space for new solutions and new realities.

Take back control 

It’s vital to learn the valuable lessons of the past few months, and to regain a sense of control again. What crippled many businesses over the lockdown period is that they are either carrying too much debt, or high overheads that must be serviced. Here are some practical suggestions to get your business back on an even keel:

Keep your overheads low. Did working from home affect your teams’ productivity, for example? Is that office space is an unnecessary cost? Platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams have enabled entire workforces to maintain normal lines of communication, whilst working from home.  

Test the market. Keep capital investment low and test your product or service (e.g. with prototypes or trial offers) to establish if there is a demand for it. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of going all-in, based on an idea they’ve had, with little to no research in the market or testing to seriously evaluate their chances of success. Pilot fast, easy or cheaply, and gather intelligence – if you receive promising feedback, use it to make improvements, enhance your offer and widen your reach.

Utilise freelancers. Avoid the burden of paying full-time wages and PAYE and embrace the flexibility of having someone work only when you need them. With platforms such as Upwork and PeoplePerHour, you can source freelancers from across the world who can deliver a magnitude of services, ranging from graphic design, virtual assistants, marketing and business development. This allows you to streamline your expenditure and keep your costs down.

Whilst so many things seem out of our control and are understandably worrying – as business owners, don’t let fear get the better of you. Take control and take action to navigate uncertainty and secure your business success.

By Ryan Jackson