Before you even think about building a business, do this first…

How long have you wanted to build a business?

How many podcasts, webinars, and free training have you listened to?

How much consistent, daily massive action are you taking?

If your response is “Not much”, good!

Because there’s ONE thing you MUST do before starting a business IF your goal is to be successful and stay in business.

And the one thing is this:

Develop your inner leadership.

Not all of it because inner leadership is a lifetime process.

Not half of it because the entire point of inner leadership comes with knowing that it’s an ever-evolving aspect of personal development.

No, the one thing you need to do before taking any steps forward in building your business lives in the realm of your inner leadership and boils down to one specific thing: managing your emotional triggers.

When people think about starting a business, they focus on logistics: set up the LLC, start a business checking account, get all your social media profiles, build a website, set up a payment method… and all of those are critical to your success.

However, no action you take will produce amazing results if you haven’t first managed your emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman, known as the father of emotional intelligence, in his book , Working with Emotional Intelligence, calls emotional intelligence the missing priority. He cites tons of research that indicate how deeply tied EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is to success. It’s not IQ that determines success; it’s EQ. And every generation is showing signs of a decline in EQ as compared to the generation before it.

So we are living in a world that’s technologically connected and emotionally troubled… and then wonder why our businesses aren’t thriving. And it’s because the EQ work has to be done first.


Because if you aren’t aware of your emotional triggers and how to manage them, the first time an obstacle shows up on your entrepreneurial path (and MANY will), you’ll default to being triggered, make a bad decision, and go down the wrong path which you’ll continue to do every time you get triggered.

So… how do you manage your emotional triggers?

Here are 4 steps:

1 Identify your top five emotional triggers

Before we can get to your top five emotional triggers, it’s important to understand what emotional intelligence represents.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is composed of 2 competencies:

  • Personal competence
  • Social competence

Personal competence is all about whether or not you’ve met you.

Can you recognizer your own emotions and the effects of those emotions on yourself and others?

Do you have an accurate self-assessment of your strengths and limits?

Do you have a strong sense of your own self-worth and capabilities?

Do you know what triggers you and do you have coping responses in place when you get triggered?

Social competence is all about how we handle relationships.

Can you take the temperature of the room and sense the level of tension or happiness that it’s a room when you walk into it?

Can you sense others’ needs, wants, and desires?

Do you know how to relate to and influence others?

Can you listen openly (and without feeling defensive) to different viewpoints?

Can you create group synergy in pursuing common goals?

From the questions alone, you can see why developing your personal and social competence (i.e your inner leadership) is critical to building and sustaining a successful business. If you can’t manage your emotions, you won’t work well with others and if you can’t work well with others (whether they are your clients or your employees), productivity and performance will be the least of your problems.

Your emotional triggers (and what you do about them) live in self-awareness and self-regulation. And your inner critic loves to fill your head with negative self-talk whenever you’re in a triggered state. One of the reasons I created the private Facebook community Fire Your Inner Critic, Find Your Inner Badass, and Finally Build Your Business is because I wanted to create a community that would support and help aspiring entrepreneurs transform their triggers into triumphs.

There are certain words, experiences, tones of voice, and personality types that naturally trigger us… and you’ve got to know what your top five triggers are.

For example, if someone calls you a liar, does it annoy you… or does it enrage you? Your response to that question will tell you whether it’s a trigger.

If a potential client turns down your offer by saying “That’s way too much money! I can’t believe you’re charging that! How do you expect the average person to afford that?”, do you walk away from that conversation feeling solid that this person wasn’t your client… or do you walk away feeling hurt and deflated? Again, your response to that question will tell you whether it’s an emotional trigger.

Where do emotional triggers come from?

Everywhere… but especially early childhood experiences that were somewhat traumatizing or negative relationship patterns that have shown up pretty consistently in your young adult and adult life. They also come from words or tones of voice that have been used with you repeatedly over time. Those words trigger certain emotions in you. Those tones of voice cause you to immediately go into defense mode. That’s why you’re the only person who has enough self-awareness to pinpoint all of your emotional triggers.

Your goal isn’t to transform all of your triggers. The objective is to identify your top five triggers and figure out how to manage them whenever they show up. Ask yourself:

What are my top five triggers? What buttons, if pushed, make my blood boil?

It won’t take you long to come up with your top five list.

2 Be aware of how those triggers show up as inner obstacles

Once you’ve identified your top five emotional triggers, it’s now time to continue the self-awareness journey and understand how those triggers can and will show up as inner obstacles in starting a business.

Ask yourself:

  1. Where could this trigger show up in my business?
  2. How will I feel when it does?
  3. What will be my initial reaction when that trigger shows up?
  4. What obstacles could responding this way cause in my business?
  5. What actions will I take to short-circuit the negative impact of this trigger (i.e. soften the blow) when this comes up?

Remember: Your emotions will get triggered as you build your business.

A client will say something that offends you. An employee will disappoint you. Family members will criticize your business-building endeavors and you’ll feel very triggered. The point is to identify what inner obstacles will surface when this happens so you’ve already got a response plan in place.

3 Pay attention to what shakes your certainty

Certainty is a powerful aspect of strong inner leadership. When you develop the certainty that you can AND will succeed in business, you become unstoppable. And it isn’t an easy journey to get there… which is why paying attention to your triggers AND to what shakes your certainty becomes a powerful way to develop that inner leadership.

An emotional trigger doesn’t necessarily shake your certainty. A shake to your certainty doesn’t necessarily cause you to feel triggered, especially if you’re starting your first business and you already feel shaky about whether or not you can actually do this. In that case, you don’t have certainty yet.

The two are, in many cases, different… so start to pay attention to when your motivation, passion, and drive to perform your business-building activities drops off a cliff. That is a symptom of a shake in your certainty and you’ll want to uncover what caused the shake in your certainty.

Understanding the factors, patterns, experiences and conversations that shake your certainty will help you do two things:

  • Stop engaging in experiences, behaviors and conversations that steal your certainty
  • Pull in certainty building tactics so you can firm up your certainty in those moments

4 Practice self-regulation to strengthen your inner leadership

There is nothing more powerful than taking ownership for your life- all of it.

When you practice self-regulation, you’re owning the fact that you do control your emotions, that you can shift from the negative to the positive, that no one has to change for you to do it, that you can take the initiative to change, end, or manage anything that comes your way, and that you can persist UNTIL you succeed.

Yes, it takes practice and patience. Yes, you’ll have to resist the urge to go off on people or to act rashly. And, yes, your ability to do this over and over again, no matter what the circumstance, will make you feel like an EQ powerhouse.

The ability to allow nothing to move you from a place of clarity, calm and power is priceless.

How do you develop self-regulation?

Let life happen. You’re going to get triggered. People will piss you off.

Let life happen and pay close attention to how you respond. The more you get presented with opportunities to self-regulate, the more you can practice taking personal responsibility, flexibility, and readiness to take action.

At the end of the day, before you start taking the daily actions of building a business, spend some time focusing on developing your inner leadership. This is a lifetime process so don’t sign up for EQ courses, trainings, conferences and webinars and spend six months trying to ‘work on yourself.’ You’re going to do the deepest inner leadership work alongside the other business building activities that you must do to be successful.

Start with your triggers: your top 5, the inner obstacles they cause, and what you can do to self-regulate. Do that before you build your business and you’ll find a greater level of ease and power as you move into the uncharted territory of starting a business.

Want to escape the corporate rat race and create your own lane?

Watch my free training (no email opt in required) that will teach you how to fire your inner critic, find your Inner Badass, escape the corporate rat race and create your own lane!

Watch the FREE training now!



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Kassandra Vaughn

* Mindset Coach | Author | Soon-to-be Therapist * On a mission to help women 30 and above rebuild their self-worth & reclaim their power.