Five Ways to Conquer New Business Paralysis

May 19, 2017

You've made the decision — you want to start your own business. How exciting! You feel the warmth of inspiration, that small ember within you that glows with hope. You can already feel that newfound sense of freedom: to set your own course, be your own boss, make your own rules, and make money doing what you're passionate about.

There's only one problem: you're also, quite suddenly, befallen with an undeniable terror.


There it is, creeping on you, tucked in the darkness behind your excitement. Are you the only one who has felt this way? Is this murky fear of failure here to save you from utter disaster? Maybe it's onto something. Well, yes...and no.

Artwork for "The Wolf You Feed" Native American Proverb by Phil Barber

What you focus on expands.


A grandfather is talking with his grandson one afternoon.
He tells him, "there are two wolves inside of us,  always at war with each other. 

One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery, and love.
The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred, and fear."

The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says,
“Grandfather, which one wins?

The grandfather quietly replies "the one you feed."


If there is anything I've learned during my journey of business ownership, what you focus on expands. If you focus on your fear, it will expand, and you will find yourself unfocused, anxious, and beyond stressed. You won't have the clarity to set clear goals and that dreaded "overwhelm paralysis" will set in. You may even give up (perhaps you already have). And believe me, you're not alone. I think we've all been there, and it's okay to find yourself there (again, ugh) — but you can't live there. Refuse to make a home in your fear.

It's time to conquer your new business paralysis like a boss.

Here are a few simple actionables that have helped me to clear the clutter in my head so that I can focus on limitless, heart-led success.

  1. Don't hide from your fears. Call them out.
    It can be tempting to run from those pestering, dark thoughts in an attempt to push through. Don't. Take back control by owning those thoughts and bringing them into the light. Write them down, in all of their messy, embarrassing glory. I promise you that we've all been there.
  2. Recognize that your fears are limiting you. Replace them with new, limitless mantras.
    Our fear can often become a mantra in our head, wrecking our focus and blocking our growth. Acknowledge those thoughts and choose to replace them with new mantras of en(courage)ment. For example, one of my fears was,"I fear not being able to focus day-to-day now that I work from my home." I replaced this with a more powerful truth, "I have the power & responsibility to set my intentions for the day." Post this at your desk as a constant reminder. I got this idea from The Conquer Kit — absolutely loving this resource so far! And it's only $7.56 on Amazon right now.
  3. Focus on small, actionable steps.
    You don't have to have it all figured out today. Just start with small, digestible milestones. For instance, perhaps today you take one hour and focus on visualizing your ideal client. Picture them as a person. Give them a name, a profession, and age. Have fun with it and get creative. Tomorrow, tackle another small exercise. Envision yourself one year from now and write down how you want to feel at that time and what you are doing. Dream big! The next day, come up with a small list of ideas that would make that dream attainable. Keep repeating your limitless mantras to yourself. You've got this.
  4. Focus on why you chose to start your own business.
    We often dive into entrepreneurship with an awesome, inspirational goal in mind — only to lose sight of it when we realize that we need to find a way to pay our bills and make this thing work. It's okay (and necessary) to keep those practical needs in mind — but do not lose sight of the fact that the income is a means to an end. Focus on the passion behind your journey and you will often find the grit and motivation to keep going.
  5. Invest in a professional, true-to-you brand identity.
    There is a reason that I have such a heart for graphic design and brand identity. Yes, it pays the bills. But it also inspires us. It inspires customers to buy what you're offering, it encourages investors to believe in you, it fires you up. As much as we hate to admit it, we all tend to judge a book by its cover, and we judge ourselves just as (if not more) intensely. A strong brand identity provides strength to your brand and increases your perceived credibility, professionalism, and trustworthiness. Your customers will take you more seriously, and you will take yourself more seriously. Invest in a strong logo, font, and color palette, and brand personality — then stay true to it. Give your customers a consistent experience and they will grow not only to trust you, but to love you. And you may just grow to love you, too.

  • Do you have any tips for business owners who are just starting out? Even now I have moments of doubt and paralysis that I have to overcome. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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Caitlin Shannon, Founder of Ember & Co Website Design Studio

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