Anxiety in the throes of success

by | Jun 5, 2024

Do you always feel like your successful business could come crashing down around you at any given moment? This was a topic I came across on the r/smallbusiness subreddit the other day and what struck me was how many people jumped in to say “Oh totally, I feel like this every day.” It’s a year old so I’m not sure why it surfaced now but I want to dig into this and I’d love your thoughts.

If you feel this way there are likely a few things that could be at play here (in my humble opinion): 

First, your business is successful but you don’t have a firm grasp on why that is. Naturally there would be a fear about that success disappearing because you’re (quietly) not entirely sure what’s working in your favor. Getting a grip on everything that contributes to and detracts from your business helps throw light into those shadows. 

If you’ve got that understanding, nothing’s going to come out of the blue. You will have some idea what your vulnerabilities are and as a result you will have the opportunity to prepare. The dark, the unknown, is scary because our imagination fills it with monsters. Turn on the lights. Do a deep dive on your business with someone. At least then you’ll know what’s going on.

Second, your business is successful, you know why it’s successful, but perhaps you haven’t taken that last step to give yourself security. You’ve taken risks to grow, quickly or otherwise, and while everything is going well right now that won’t always be the case. The pandemic showed us that you can’t prepare for everything. It also showed us which businesses were essentially operating check to check and which ones had savings.

What can you do to give yourself some security? Do you need to build a buffer of savings? Do you need to take fewer risks for a while to accomplish that? What needs to change to give your business a longer runway?

Third, and definitely not least, this may be a mindset challenge. Therapy is a great option if you think it would benefit you. There’s an argument to be made that most if not all people would benefit from having a therapist. I have one. If you feel like an imposter, if you feel like your failure is inevitable, you might want to talk to someone. Find the right person and feel no shame doing so.

One of the big realizations you can have is when you repeatedly realize that how you perceive and navigate the world is not how other people perceive or navigate the world. Who’s to say what normal is, but if you want to change your current situation it’s okay to have a little help.

If you want to tackle this outside the realm of therapy, there are countless mindset programs and methods out there. Again, find what works for you, but try to enjoy your success as much as possible. You’ve earned it.

Let me know what you think in the comments below, or any other method. I’m interested to hear your take.