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Start your own business event: 'Anxiety is normal'
One of the first questions someone thinking of starting their own business asks themselves is: Am I cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Sometimes people question whether they have the naked ambition they think is required for the job. Other times, the idea of embarking on the journey make them so anxious, they give up before they even begin, assuming they don’t ‘have what it takes’.
But according to Anne-Sofie van den Born Rehfeld – a real success story among Brussels-based small businesses – some traits can be learned, while others are just normal. Van den Born Rehfeld is the keynote speaker at ING’s expat event Start Your Own Business in Belgium on 17 May.
Loneliness and anxiety, she says, are just part of the game. “You absolutely do feel alone in it. People around you might not understand the number of hours you have to put in it or why it’s the only thing you can talk about – why you are consumed by it!” she laughs. “When you put so much of yourself into it, it is difficult to relate to other people’s seemingly safe lives.”
Van den Born Rehfeld (pictured) is the founder and CEO of The Library Group, a co-working office in Brussels, with three locations. It is founded on the principle of the Scandinavian style of workplaces, which feel more like homes than offices.
Van den Born Rehfeld started up her first location in 2013, and the others in the following two years. Anxiety and fear during this process is nothing but normal, “especially if you are taking risks with money, like I did,” she explains. “My stomach was constantly churning with worries. When I started, I didn’t realise that that was normal. So I gave myself a hard time for not sleeping at night, for not being calm and collected. Then at one point, I googled ‘entrepreneurs and anxiety’ and discovered that it just comes along with it. It’s the price you pay for the freedom you have.”
She is not new to providing insights into entrepreneurship and so has developed a set of tips she calls Pawer. It stands for Productivity, Athlete, Workout, Earn and Realism. She’ll be talking about each topic in turn at the ING event, which is free and completely in English.
Find your inner athlete
‘P’ stands for productivity, which van den Born Rehfeld links to optimism. But, she insists, optimism doesn’t have to be innate; it can be a learned skill. “If you don’t have a completely positive outlook about your own product, your own service, it’s very difficult to sell it to other people,” she explains. “If you are not optimistic by nature, I can provide some ideas about how to get more optimism into your life.”
‘A’, meanwhile, stands for the somewhat mysterious-sounding Athlete. “To be an entrepreneur, you have to think like an athlete,” she says. “Athletes don’t aim to be number three or number 47. A true athlete really aims to be number one. In the case of entrepreneurship, this doesn’t mean you have to be ‘better’ than all your competitors. It means you have to visualise growing and being successful with what you do.”
This is why van den Born Rehfeld called her company The Library Group, suggesting multiple locations. Even though she had one, she entered the field expecting to expand. And she did – quickly.
To hear more pearls of entrepreneurial wisdom from van den Born Rehfeld, come to ING’s Starting Your Owns Business in Belgium. Aside from the keynote speech, attendees will join four round-table discussions in turn, led by experts in various fields related to starting up.
Louise Hilditch of Local Knowledge, a company specialised in helping expats become self-employed or launch a business, will lead one of the round-table workshops. Participants will also learn about how to register a new company, banking services and tax and other finance issues.
Attendees will also receive a free copy of the Local Knowledge Guide, which details how to set up and run a business in Belgium, a €22 value.
Start Your Own Business in Belgium is free, but advance registration is required. The event is entirely in English and takes place on 17 May from 13.30 to 17.30 at ING Arts Centre, Place Royale 5, 1000 Brussels
Photos: Getty Images