Creating and owning your own business can be a truly life-changing experience. Some people say that nothing can compare to the rewarding feeling you get when you have successfully built a business from the ground up – something you can call your own and be proud of.
Despite the potential rewards, however, many people simply shelve their dreams of owning a business due to various factors they perceive to be detrimental. This article looks at social anxiety, and why it can stop people from pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams – it also looks at overcoming this anxiety and realising that you can still create and own a business.
What is social anxiety and why can it cause problems for business owners?
Before we look at why you shouldn’t let social anxiety prevent your budding entrepreneur’s spirit, it is important to understand exactly what social anxiety is, and how it can be detrimental to your everyday working life. The following paragraphs below provide some background information about this disorder and its potential real-life effects:
Social Anxiety – A definition
At its most basic, social anxiety can be defined as “an overwhelming fear of social situations”. This is a problem that can often develop in individuals at a young age or during their teenage years. People often incorrectly view social anxiety as a form of shyness, reclusiveness or even social awkwardness – this is not the case; social anxiety is much more than any of these terms. Social anxiety is an intense fear that can be difficult to control and becomes worse when sufferers are placed in everyday social situations such as work, school or even simple public outings.
How can social anxiety affect your working life?
Social anxiety can truly affect your working life; indeed it can affect every aspect of your life and prevent you from engaging in a variety of activities most people wouldn’t think twice about. The following are some ways in which this disorder can affect your employment:
- You may dread activities that involve face to face communication such as meetings
- Simple tasks may be difficult such as phone conversations and meeting new clients
- You may continually worry about your business decisions and how they are perceived
- You may have an intense fear of criticism for your actions
In short, you may struggle to make decisions, engage in meetings or perform simple tasks associated with running a business due to your overwhelming fear of judgement and embarrassment.
Why is creating and owning a business a worthwhile venture?
So why should you pursue your dreams, create a business and overcome your social anxiety? We believe wholeheartedly that anyone can create their own business, regardless of what they may think. If you have the tools, knowledge, skill and a worthwhile idea, there is no reason why you cannot create a business of your own. Indeed, we believe if you have a burning desire to enter the world of business, you should let nothing stand in your way! The following are some reasons why you shouldn’t let social anxiety stand in your way.
A business can bring financial security
This is possibly one of the most common reasons why people start a business – they have an idea in their head and feel they can make an impact in the world and create a comfortable lifestyle for themselves and their loved ones. If your social anxiety makes you worry about financial security and paying your bills, a business can help you overcome this – the first few weeks and months may be tough, but as you start to see success and make a profit, you will have proven to yourself that you can indeed make a living.
A business can help you develop as a person
Creating a business requires skill, dedication and determination. To create and own a business, you must be strong of character and be willing to put in that extra effort to achieve your goals and dreams. You may have to work long hours, you may have to make tough decisions and work out of your comfort zone. In short, you will have to develop as a person and grow as your business does. If you look back years down the line and look at what you were like on starting your business venture, you will see exactly how far you have developed and grown as an individual.
For a person with social anxiety, this can seem truly daunting and terrifying – you will not believe that you can grow as a person or achieve greatness. You will not believe that you can improve your own skills, learn new things and better yourself. But you can, and creating a business can help you do this! As you will see below, a business can also improve your life in other ways, but whatever the outcome, you will be a better person for it.
A business can change your life for the better
As we touched upon above, a business can bring financial security. Creating and running a business can enrich your life in so many ways. It can also benefit your family and friends and provide security and safety for their future too. You can develop your mind and skills. You can develop new friendships and bonds with employees and business partners. You can see the world and widen your horizons. You can realise your dreams and be satisfied with your working life.
For those with social anxiety, creating a better life for themselves may seem like an insurmountable task. You may feel like your life is going nowhere and that you will never amount to anything; this is simply not true! As you can see above, a business really can change your life in an array of wonderful ways.
A business can help you meet new and interesting people
When creating a business, in most cases you will have to forge working relations with a wide variety of people and organisations. You may have to talk to and negotiate with suppliers and stockists. You may have to create relationships with investors and stakeholders. You may have to interact with your end customers. As you can see, by creating a business you can improve your social skills and communication, and have the chance to meet a fantastic array of interesting individuals from around the world.
For many suffering with a social anxiety disorder, the prospect of meeting new people and speaking to strangers is distressing. You may feel inadequate, scared and like you are being judged. When creating a business however you can help squash these fears and overcome your barriers. You can take small steps and gradually build up your confidence when speaking to others. As your confidence grows you can increase your engagement with others and, in no time at all, you will have built a new network of business contacts. You may even create new life-long friends!
A business can help you learn to cope with failure
There is no denying that not all business ventures are successful. Some businesses simply don’t work – some never gain enough custom, some simply start with a poor idea that never gains traction. Failure is often a natural part of business.
Even successful businesses may have experienced failure in the beginning – they may have lost an important customer for example, or a supplier deal may have fallen through. This failure helps individuals and business owners grow, however, and learn from their mistakes. Failure is perfectly acceptable – it’s how we deal with that failure that is important. Some people simply accept failure and capitulate – others take this failure, look at where they went wrong and improve their situation as a result.
Someone suffering from social anxiety can have an intense fear of failure. The thought of failing will scare them. The thought of letting people down and making the wrong decisions will frighten them. They may be unable to take charge and be a central figure within an organisation as a result of this fear. When creating a business, you can overcome these fears – start with small mistakes and failures and work on improving them. As you turn your small failures into success, your confidence will grow and your coping mechanisms will also improve.
A business can help you cope with letting people down
Throughout our lives, we strive to make others happy. We go out of our way to help those around us and ensure their needs are met. This is no different in the world of business. A business owner will work hard to please a wide variety of people and organisations. A business owner will have to please suppliers by making prompt invoice payments. They will also have to please their employees by paying an adequate salary and taking care of any qualms they have. Additionally, they will have to please their customers by providing a first-rate product or service.
Regardless of the above, however, it is ok to let people down. It is not physically possible to please everyone and keep every business associate happy. In the world of business, sometimes we have to prioritise and make decisions that adversely affect others.
For someone with social anxiety, they may always strive to keep everyone happy and have an irrational fear of letting people down. When creating and owning a business, you can learn to cope with letting people down and making decisions that don’t always please everyone. Furthermore, you can also learn how to react to those who are displeased and how to cope with unfavourable situations.
A business can help you beat your own personal expectations
When creating a business, we often challenge ourselves and perform feats we may not have thought possible. Creating and managing a business can push our boundaries and help us beat our own personal expectations. You may not think you are capable of managing a team of staff for example. Or you may not think you are capable of creating a marketing campaign or website. When you create something of your own that you are invested in, you often go above and beyond and surprise yourself with what you can achieve.
Someone suffering from social anxiety may have extremely low self-expectations and esteem. They may feel that they will never succeed or amount to anything. They may feel they cannot complete even the most basic of tasks. As you begin to create your business, you will soon see that these fears are totally unfounded. As your business succeeds you will be truly amazed at what you can achieve and your own self-expectations will grow as a result – you will have self-worth and confidence.
Hopefully, you can now see that creating a business can be an absolutely life-changing and epic adventure. For those lucky enough to own their own business, they can enjoy a fulfilled life and be proud of what they have created. That doesn’t mean that creating a business is the be-all and end-all – each person must live their life as they see fit and self-satisfaction comes in many forms. If you do have an idea or burning passion inside you, however, then act upon it, as the rewards of creating a business are many and great.
As you can see from the pointers listed above, creating a business can also help an individual overcome their social anxiety. In many ways, creating a business forces a person to face their fears, cope with the unexpected and grow as a person. As you begin to create a business, you can start confronting your anxieties and overcome them one step at a time – at the end of the process, you should hopefully have developed a new set of skills and coping mechanisms, and your anxiety will be a thing of the past.