Anxiety, Perfectionism & Comparison as a Small Business Owner • Pretty Content • Vintage-inspired brand and web design

Anxiety, Perfectionism & Comparison as a Small Business Owner

Balancing your mental health while running your own business can be difficult. We’re putting a lot on our plates and it’s easy to get caught up in anxiety over our success (and failure), perfectionism in our work, and comparison to others that we see as more successful than us.

I asked Kayla Chorley, the therapist behind Pineapple Therapy in Edmonton, Canada (and Pretty Content client) to give us her perspective on small business ownership, from her own experience as both a new small business owner, and as a professional helping millennials and teenagers navigate the world alongside their anxiety.

Kayla also has a fantastic podcast, The Anxious Pineapple, which I really recommend!

Okay, let’s get into the good stuff.

Guest Post by Kayla Chorley, Canadian Certified Counsellor

Starting your own business is easily one of the most exciting and scariest things you can ever do. And, like most things in life that bring a mix of these two emotions, anxiety is bound to show up. Or, at least it did for me. 

Hi, I’m Kayla. A classic perfectionist. I like things done perfectly. My standards are unbelievably high, and often unattainable; yet, I strive for them anyways. Most business books I’ve read have warned me to expect the first year of business to be anything but steady, but my perfectionism tells me to ignore that and expect it anyways. My perfectionism also nicely tells me that failure is not an option or the entire world will implode. Talk about pressure. 

I also find myself dealing with a lot of imposter syndrome, especially around the business side of things. I don’t have a business degree, and most of what I do know has been pieced together from multiple internet sources and books. I am thankful passion is on my side so I can find the energy to invest in reading the most incredibly boring articles on business start-ups with some enthusiasm. 

Not to mention I have poured my entire heart into my business, making it personally offensive if someone doesn’t want to invest in my services. I find myself saying: How dare you not engage with my business – do you even know how many tears I’ve cried over this?

So, why do so many small business owners fall into these same traps and what can we do about it? 

As a therapist, I think the first thing we need to do is normalize these thoughts and feelings. Given that we are truly passionate about our products and services, it makes perfect sense that we want our businesses to succeed and want things to go as smoothly as possible. Of course I would love to see exponential growth in my first year – who wouldn’t?! 

The second thing we need to do is check ourselves. Are we living in reality or has anxiety (aka perfectionism in my case) told us that what we are doing/experiencing isn’t enough? Do you have at least one client or a customer? That’s success. Do you want 1000 more? Maybe, but even having one makes your business legit AF. Take that imposter syndrome! 

Thirdly, let’s acknowledge that failure is a real thing that can happen. I am not saying this to scare you, but I also don’t want you to think your business is infallible either. Failure is bound to show up in some form or another: whether it’s a campaign that doesn’t work or a product that doesn’t get picked up… and that’s okay. Whenever failure shows up remember that you have the means to handle it. You are clearly a resourceful person, otherwise, you wouldn’t be running a small business to begin with. Use that same resourcefulness and you will find a way out of any downturn. 

Fourthly, comparison can be a real buzz killer. Comparing ourselves to others is a natural process – it’s actually a survival technique that ensures we fit in among the crowd so predators won’t eat us (true story – super relevant back in cave people’s days, less relevant now); however, when it comes to business we can really get caught up in the comparison game. “But, Company X sold more donuts than me this week.” Two things I have to say about this:

  1. Use comparison for good and not evil. Okay, maybe Company X did sell more donuts than you. Take a look at their strategy & educate yourself. What is working for them? How can you incorporate this new knowledge into your business? 
  2. Trust your gut and know that your business is exactly where it needs to be at this moment. Don’t try to be another company. Embrace the slow, steady climb. 

Lastly, let go of the idea of “perfect.” Waiting for the perfect conditions can lead to procrastination; instead, choose action over perfection. Don’t have every single detail down perfectly? That’s okay – launch it anyways.

About Kayla Chorley and Pineapple Therapy

Kayla Chorley received a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University in 2019 and is a Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) in Alberta, Canada. She owns a private practice called Pineapple Therapy, where she works with millennial clients, gen X to gen Z, who wish to drop the struggle with anxiety, ditch perfectionism, and start to live their best lives. Kayla believes that in order to make peace with anxiety, we need to drop the struggle with it and learn effective ways of moving forward when anxiety is present. Kayla recently started a podcast called The Anxious Pineapple in which she discusses topics related to anxiety and ways to navigate them.

Hi, I'm Aisling!

I’ve spent over a decade working in agencies and startups, designing for different mediums; coding responsive, user-friendly web experiences; and converting customers into loyal audiences. Now, I am so excited to bring those years of experience to your project, and to share some of my insights on this blog!