Building a Startup with Anxiety

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

After I started my company and began building products, a curious thought appeared in my mind. Is building a startup while having high anxiety even possible?

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I’ll give you some background. I’m not a generally anxious person, but I did have social anxiety disorder for a number of years. At this point the effects of the disorder have for the most part subsided, though I still occasionally do get anxious in meetings with those of a higher authority.

But this context towards myself got me curious towards the context of others. If I were still in a stage of high social anxiety, could my business suffer as a result?

For example, think about the feedback cycle. In modern startup theory, the feedback cycle is considered to be vital for success. You must constantly be broaching others for feedback, whether they be mentors, customers, friends, etc.

But if you’re socially anxious, I can tell you for certain you’ll want no part of that. Not only will you have to engage in the conversation yourself, but you’ll have to ask for someone’s honest opinion of your very personal work. Easily a socially anxious person’s worst nightmare.

And of course, there’s more practical things. Like sales for a B2B firm. Or community engagement. Customer service. The list goes on. Now you can hopefully see why I considered this to be such a big deal — anxiety doesn’t just seem to be correlated to a bad mood. It may also be correlated to perpetual entrepreneurial failure. 

But that’s when I realized something. When I was deep into my social anxiety, I did have a business. It wasn’t a business per say — I wasn’t selling anything — but it was a blog, with a brand, and with followers. Really, all that was missing was a dollar value to the work.

And when I look back at that time, I realize that I wasn’t really worried too much with what people say. Negative comments hurt, but they always do. For feedback, I mostly just used my own. And I never tried to reach out — I grew organically.

Is that a harder way to do things? Probably. But is it impossible? I don’t know — I don’t think so. I never really got super big when I was doing all that in high school, but there was at least some people who followed my work. So if it’s something that you’re passionate in, something you really want to work on — I think life finds a way.

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