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Anxiety & Starting a Business - Against The Odds

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by Startacus Admin

"My struggle with starting a business whilst battling agoraphobia." An inspirational guest article by Hayley Woodham of Poodles and Pompadours.

"When I lost my job as a hotel receptionist in 2009, I thought my life was over. I had no income, no savings and no way of paying my rent in the middle of a recession. I was far away from home, and ended up isolating myself, which in turn, slowly led to me developing depression, an anxiety and panic disorder, along with agoraphobia. I was 19 years old.

I was housebound for a long time - even the thought of answering the door or the telephone would send me into a fit of hysterical panic - but a few years on and I've just started my second business. If you had told me that I would have been in this place a few years ago, I would have laughed in your face (from behind my closed curtains in the seclusion of my own bedroom of course!)

Desperation can lead you to make difficult choices, but if you have nothing to lose, then you might as well go for it, right? You see, when you're sat alone in a studio flat in London and your electricity meter has just been cut off for the 3rd time that week, you kind of don't have a choice but to look for ways to make money. It's either that or sit in the dark until something magical happens, and unless you're in an Anne Hathaway movie, nothing magical usually happens to us "normal" folk.

And that's when my journey into the world of business began.

I had made a Christmas present for a friend (a crystallised phone case) that had sparked interested among our friendship group and they all seemed to want one. I suddenly realised that I had something here that people wanted, and I bet they would be willing to pay money for it too. I set up an Etsy shop on a whim, and a few years later I can say that my handmade jewellery and accessories have been stocked in shops across the country, including Selfridges on Oxford Street. I've taken part in London Fashion Week, been featured in local and national press, worked with a huge cosmetics brand and I even won an award celebrating Women in Business from Jacqueline Gold, the CEO of Ann Summers and Knickerbox.

poodles and pompadoursI closed my jewellery and accessories business in December 2012 to focus on my real passion and something that I had dreamt of since I was a child but never had the confidence to pursue - my pet boutique! I knew there was a gap in the market for the kinds of retro products that I wanted to make, as I couldn't find things that I liked for my own dogs, and I had learnt the basics of what to do (or what not to do!) from my first small business, so off I went on Adventure Number 2; Poodles and Pompadours.

If you thought that running a small business was hard work, imagine doing it with a crippling illness such as agoraphobia - simple things such as phoning a supplier to place an order become huge ordeals, but the support and friendship from my customers and friends really pulled me through the toughest times. They believed in me and for the first time in a long time, I started to believe in myself.

I have started afresh with my new business venture, and my anxiety disorder, although still rearing its ugly head quite often, is more manageable now. I'm looking forward to this new and exciting adventure, and I hope to achieve the same success with Poodles and Pompadours as I did with Diamonds and Daggers.

I started a business despite being petrified to answer my door most days of the week - what's your excuse? Go on, take the first step in starting your own adventure. It's not as scary as it looks."

A big hi five to Hayley from Startacus - inspirational stuff! You can find Hayley on Twitter - why not send here a tweet today to say well done (feel free to mention @iamstartacus too!) 

Also, when starting a business, everyone, (ourselves here at Startacus included), have had moments of pressure and self-doubt, or days when more seems to go wrong than ever go right. With this in mind, you might also want to read our article on Mindset - Top Tips when feeling the startup pressure

If you like what you see here on Startacus, why not become a member of our growing community? It's free! And you'll get all this - exclusive access to our Business Toolkit, discounts and offers galore for your business via our member only business deals, the chance to network and connect with loads of fellow self-starters, and maybe even become our celebrated 'Self-Starter of the Week' and tell the world your startup tale! Join right here for free

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Published on: 4th May 2013

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