How to set up a business without stress, from a former serial entrepreneur

Smiling young African entrepreneur standing in front of the counter of her cafe talking on a cellphone and using a tablet, single parent business ownerIt’s no secret that starting a business from scratch can be really, really stressful.

From concerns about whether you’ll make enough money to the pressure you might feel as a new entrepreneur, setting up an enterprise has the potential to get the better of even the most well-prepared, business savvy people.

As a self-confessed former serial entrepreneur, I know just how overwhelming the pressure can be. While I had plenty of determination, I also struggled a lot. But, nowadays, I am a far more focussed business owner and can proudly say I’ve figured out the formula for starting up a business with minimal stress.

Why I found starting up a business (relatively) stress-free

After the 2008 economic crash caused the collapse of Iceland’s three major banks, all of my previously successful businesses nosedived. I lost everything, and it took me a long time to get over what happened.

When I finally felt ready to reassert myself, I realised that my new venture had to have purpose. In other words, I wanted to be clear on my “why” and go into the business knowing exactly what I wanted to get out of it. That, and not KPIs and revenue, had to be my driving force.

So, I asked myself what my core reason was for starting a new business and found that, more than anything else, I wanted to be location independent and have time for myself and my daughter. This brought me to the realisation that it was more important for me to build my business around my life and not the other way around.

As crucial as this revelation was, I knew I still had to have purpose in the business itself. This helped me to get really clear on who my ideal client was, what I was offering them, and my messaging.

Finding your “why”

The simple fact is that it’s far more difficult to start and sustain a business if you don’t understand your “why.” That’s not to say it isn’t doable. I managed it for many years, as do many other people. But, unfortunately, it very often comes at the expense of a person’s mental health and true fulfilment in both their personal and professional lives.

With your “why” at the forefront of your mind, though, you will have a solid foundation on which it is far easier to build something successful. This has to do with the fact that, with those strong foundational pieces in place, there will inevitably be a much better match between your ideal clients and your offers.

This means that you’ll be able to offer the people you want to work with exactly what they need, and you’ll have the sense of purpose to deliver that to the best of your ability, always.

How to reduce stress when starting a business

The notion of using your “why” to eliminate stress and drive business success might sound a bit wishy-washy. So, check out these practical tips to help you apply your newfound sense of purpose to your start-up and experience the benefits for yourself.

  1. Have a system in place

My number one tip is to focus on what matters to you in everything that you do, and to put a system in place to ensure it always remains your priority.

Figure out what you want and need to do to fulfil your “why” and build your business processes around that. Then, you can ditch all the rest. So much of starting a new business is thinking you’re going to do something and then never doing it. But, with a focused system, you won’t have to worry about the extra 90% of stuff that, really, never mattered to begin with.

  1. Introduce themed days

You may have eliminated a lot of unnecessary stress by building your stress-free system, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have plenty to do. So, my advice would be to break down the things that really will help you to reach your “why” and set themed days that will help you get there.

This could include one day of being in full CEO mode, in which you work on your business and get strategic, and another of working solely on client attraction.

  1. Take control of your agenda

Once you know what themed days you need to introduce to your working week, it’s time to take control of your agenda. So, start planning. By giving yourself a clear overview of the days ahead, it will be far easier to stay on track and not lose sight of your end goals.

However, while you’re building out your schedule, don’t forget that a big part of your “why” will be related to personal fulfilment. So, make sure to factor in plenty of time to spend with loved ones and get some well-deserved headspace.

The secret to starting up a stress-free business

Building a new business without (much) stress might sound like an impossible task. But, I know from experience that it can be done. You just have to take a different approach to entrepreneurship, one which values purpose, fulfilment, and passion over strict quarterly targets.

Trust me when I say that you’re far more likely to find and enjoy success if you do.

About the author

Silja ThorSilja Thor is a serial entrepreneur and business mentor who helps her clients build successful and profitable businesses without sacrificing their personal lives. She works with online entrepreneurs, who are doing well but are ready for growth, to help them sharpen their offering and work out smarter ways to attract their ideal clients.

Many of the people Silja works with are feeling overwhelmed, working long hours to try to make their business a success. But they are no longer willing to sacrifice what matters most to them, so Silja helps them leave the overwhelm behind and build highly profitable businesses which are designed around their lives and not the other way round.

She works with clients to make small tweaks which make a big difference. Simplicity is the key to her approach and she’s helped hundreds of entrepreneurs across the globe create the space they need to step fully into their zone of genius.


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