can we talk about fight or flight as a solopreneur

I woke up at 3am this morning in a panic.

Today my new book went live, in advance of it’s official launch day tomorrow.

I felt like running away and forgetting the whole thing, despite spending the last 6 months working on it.

My book is called How NOT to be Broke…and it’s probably my most courageous move in business yet…and that’s saying something.

In 1994 (gosh that’s a while back) I was offered my first piece of freelance work as a drama practitioner. It was working on a community arts project, a play called “We all came from somewhere else” a story about immigration, culture and hope told by 30 year 7 students from 3 different Newham schools.

It was the start of my obsession with community, and storytelling.

It was the start of my journey as a self employed solopreneur.

Almost 30 years of working for myself in one form or another.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have had proper jobs too…in fact, I have been made redundant from nearly all of them…5 in total. 

But I was born to be an entrepreneur, I am a maverick, I don’t like being told what to do, I am a passionate problem solver, and I get bored easily. 

My top strengths according to Clifton strength finder…

  • Ideation

  • Activation

  • Significance

  • Futurist

  • Winning Others Over

But there is one side of the Solopreneur life that I really struggle with, and that is managing my fight-or-flight response to things.

Now I am no neuroscientist, but I do know this response it to do with the brain, my amygdala, and if left unchecked it has me behaving like a kid in the playground, or worse still a baby throwing all their toys out of the pram…I am not proud of some of the messes I’ve got myself into over the years but I am learning to better understand these responses and to manage them more appropriately.

It’s funny because as Solopreneurs we say we work alone, we say it’s a lonely game, we say all of the responsibility is on our shoulders…and yet often the situations that cause us to go into fight or flight are in relation to other people.

  • Clients

  • Suppliers

  • Strangers off the internet

  • Competitors

  • Friends and family

And if we are not careful we can create barriers to growth, no woman (or man) is an island, and we must collaborate, co-create, and support one another in our ventures if we really want to build safe, secure and ultimately successful businesses.

It is easy to dismiss some of this behavior as “just the way we are” but those repeating patterns become exhausting, and keep us stuck.

How they show up in business might look different for different people, but it might play out like…

  • Ohhh that person (ie competitor) is bigger and better than me, I can’t compete with them, so I will run away, or worse still sabotage myself to prove my point

  • Flipping between tasks and projects, multitasking and being distracted

  • Being hyper focussed on the things people do wrong…nothing being good enough

  • Being outspoken, and missing social cues…needing to have the last word, needing to be right

  • Not following rules or being aware of other people’s boundaries

  • Changing your mind A LOT

  • Crying…feeling hopeless

  • Blaming others…feeling like nobody can be trusted

  • Masking the reality of your situation…using the last remaining remnants of hope as a strategy

  • Not asking for or accepting help

When what is really going on…is you simply feel scared.

It is OK to feel scared, we have to find ways of making it OK to be afraid. 

Because lets face it there has been a lot to be afraid of over the last few years, and we don’t run our businesses in isolation from our lives and the wider world….chances are there are more challenging things to come. 

Solopreneurship can be scary.

So what do we do?

How do we catch ourselves before we reach crisis point, or even at that moment where we know something needs to change? How can we self-regulate?

I developed something called my Bounce Forward Crisis Management Tool. which I talk about in the new book (you should totally grab a copy). 

I use it with my clients to help them through the challenges they face in business and life, and I use it to help myself, because even as an experienced business strategist, I still have my moments.

Also truth be told, I also use this process in my dealings with my sassy 10 year old who is still very much getting on top of her fight or flight responses.

The model follows 6 stages

Retreat – We must move ourselves away from the thing that is causing us harm. We need safe spaces, whether that is a physical place, a person or habits that ground us. It is very difficult to address an issue when you are in the middle of it. You need space.

Review – You need to take some time to review whats been going on. What led to the trigger. Who was involved. What part everyone played in the crisis, including yourself. But with kindness and without shame.

Research – Before jumping to solutions spend some time thinking through some options, looking at what has worked and not worked for you and others previously in similar situations. We don’t want to keep bouncing back, we want to get beyond the challenge…to grow.

Resolve – We need to decide we want to change, we need to decide that we are willing to work on doing things differently, we need to get buy-in from the other stakeholders involved. It’s about committing to the process.

Resource – We need to understand the resources we have at our disposal to address the challenge. Is it money, is it time, is it effort, is it attention. what is the cost of taking action AND the cost of not taking action.

And then, and only then do we…

Return – Go back into the situation and start activating your plan of action to move forward, beyond the point of challenge. 

So next time you feel that energy of fear bubbling away, and you think “OH shit…here I go again” take a quick look at this model and see if it can help you take a breath…gain a different perspective…give you some new tools and resources to find a better more appropriate solutions.

Let me know how you get on. 

need some support to get you back on track in your solopreneur business?

I am trialling a new service for Soloprenenurs, it is a consulting package to help get clarity over your biggest challenges and barriers to growth, it includes a 

  • Business Audit & Digital Ecosystem Review
  • 90 minute strategy session
  • CEO metrics that matter session
  • Who I need to be leadership session
  • Plus access to my Soloprenur Dashboard™️ worth £99
All delivered 121 via Zoom, over the next 3 months, so that you can hit 2024 in the best position EVER.

I am offering this at 50% off the full price for the first 5 beta testers. These are all services I do with my VIP clients, and folks in my various group programmes, so what I am testing is this package as a new service, rather than the individual pieces which I know work. 

Get in touch if you would like to discuss this further

Don't forget to buy the book

Looking for a business legacy strategist?

If you are a solopreneur doing all of the doing, AND all of the thinking, and have got yourself in a bit of a pickle. I might be able to help. As a business legacy strategist I help solopreneurs to get clear on their vision, their strategy and the best tactics to deploy, but most importantly I help them turn their ideas into sustained, successsful action…and before it’s too late and they have run out of time or steam to reach their full potential.

I have been a solopreneur for close to 30 years, and have been supporting freelancers, artists, coaches, creatives, experts, speakers and sole traders of all kinds of proffesions for more than 20 years. I am a keynote speaker on the topics of productivity, purpose and profits and the author of the book How NOT to be Broke.