Stress Less

Managing Entrepreneurial Anxiety

By Erin Hueffner

Starting your own business can be exhilarating. You get to say “sayonara” to the 9-to-5 grind, the boring meetings, the aggravating commute. You’re following your dreams. Best of all, you get to call the shots now. But with the thrill of being in charge comes the anxiety of making it all happen, often on your own. How you manage that stress can make or break your venture.

So how do successful female entrepreneurs handle this stress? “First and foremost: Get help,” says Susan Thomson of ActionCOACH Business Consulting in Madison. “If you need to learn how to sell, find a sales coach to work with you. If you need help in staying organized, bring in an administrative assistant. It helps to build your business and set things in place from day one. And that’s why it can help to have a coach, because when you’re in the middle of it, you can’t see it.”

You may be a solo business owner, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. “It’s extremely stressful to be an entrepreneur,” Chariti Gent says. As director and lead instructor of the UW-Madison Professional Life Coaching Certification Program, she trains the next generation to help clients get new perspectives and find the courage to take bold steps. “There are always the bad days, but you honor that you’re having a dip, allow yourself to feel it, and then process through it. You’ve got to have a great support system.”

Gent tells her clients to reach out to others who are building businesses, too. Wisconsin Women Entrepreneurs is a “sisterhood” of women who own businesses in the state with an aim of lifting each other up and providing support to its members. And, remember why you’re doing this in the first place.

“When I was deciding whether or not to start the business, my daughter said to me ‘Well mom, if you don’t do it, will you regret it?’” says Gent. “If you’re thinking about taking the leap, do some soul searching. I never want to look back and say ‘what if?’ Go for it and know that you’re going to hit some bumps and challenges, but that’s all part of living a fulfilling life,” Gent explains.

For more information on Wisconsin Women Entrepreneurs, visit

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