Woman in MaskAs people — more specifically as entrepreneurs — many of us feel obligated to put up a shield to hide what’s really going on. When we’re asked how things are going with our businesses, we’re more inclined to focus on the highlights rather than the brutal truth. That truth might be that we’re working too much and getting sick a lot. Or that business has ground to a halt. Whatever that truth is, we feel it makes us vulnerable, and we feel like that compromises our ability to succeed.

After suffering a few panic attacks, I realized this mask that I wore was cracking. While I tried to pretend that everything was hunky dory to the outside world, inside I was falling apart. At CorpNet, we’d reached a critical point where the right decision had to be made in order to move forward. I thought I could help us get there simply by working more and more. My body, on the other hand, had other ideas on the subject.

So now I’ve found ways to deal with my internal stress, and believe it or not, I find that removing that stiff mask that I wore makes it easier for me to stay grounded. If you can relate to this idea of hiding behind the truth, let me share some advice so that you make 2015 the year you take that mask off.

1. First, Be Honest with Yourself

Before you can be open with others, you have to be honest with yourself about your business. If you’re not making enough money to pay your bills next month, burying your head in the sand is not going to amend the situation.

I find it useful to take a reality check each week to ensure both I and CorpNet are on track with our objectives. If not, i ask myself what, if anything, I can do to change that.

2. Next, Take Care of Yourself

When you’re stressed and overworked, you don’t do your company any good. Now, I build in exercise, hot baths, long walks, and time to talk about my concerns with those I’m close with into my schedule so I don’t risk having another panic attack. I find that when I’m calm, I’m a better CEO.

3. Be Honest, But Don’t Overshare

Being honest with those around you doesn’t mean you have to share every detail of what’s going on. If your business is in crisis mode, there’s certainly no reason you have to alarm your customers. If someone asks, you can simply say, “We’re working on improving a few areas of the business.”

Panic tends to breed, so if you let on that you feel out of control, others will feel the same.

4. Ask for Help

Even if you’re a solopreneur, you’re not in this alone. Ask for help, whether it’s asking your spouse to watch the kids at night so you can spend more time on your business, asking your staff to push for improvement, or asking the bank for a line of credit to free up your cash flow.

We entrepreneurs tend to think we can take everything on by ourselves, but that’s not a healthy attitude. We’re good at what we do, but we need others to make our businesses complete. And when we’re in trouble, there’s no shame in letting people know so they can come to our aid.

I’d love it if we could all take off our masks. I think the world could do with more openness and honesty.