I’ve seen it a hundred times. It actually may be the rule more than it is the exception.
An entrepreneur that has 5, 6, or even 10 different business ideas- about as rare as Karen asking to speak with the manager.
I met recently with one of these “easily distracted” entrepreneurs. She literally showed me a blue spiral notebook FULL of business ideas. Her entire point in wanting to chat with me? Ask me which idea I think she should pursue.
But she was missing the entire point of being an entrepreneur. It’s more about creating something you can be proud of and having more control over how you spend your time.
At least for me it is.
And her ideas? They were great! Well, most of them were at least. While there were a couple ideas in there that were superior (which I let her know), at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how good her ideas are. The only thing that matters is what she does about it.
So, with my friend in mind, I have come up with three tips for those who are experiencing “analysis paralysis” brought on my too many business ideas.
First, you have to focus 100% of your attention on one business concept. And this is exactly why one business idea is better than ten.
When you are in the beginning stages of coming up with a business, by all means, let your mind wander. You can even set up a whiteboard, like every suspense movie hero, with strings, and maps, and photos. Think outside the box and push the limits of what is currently being done.
Spend some time in this phase. But not more than a week or two.
In this phase you should do research about potential business ideas. Answer questions like: has someone already done it? Can I do it better? What would I do to differentiate myself in the marketplace? How would I attract customers?
No need to have everything answered perfectly. The purpose of this exercise is to compare the various business concepts you have.
The next step in finding your focus is answering questions about how each business idea would affect you personally: Can I see myself being fulfilled creating a business in this industry? How much time will this idea take to get off the ground and operational until I can hire help? How much money do I need to invest in this business concept and where am I going to get those funds? Can I see myself 5 years down the road and still enjoying this business? What does that feel like?
During the focus phase, you may also want to reach out to friends, family, mentors, etc. to receive feedback. But be careful doing this. Keep in mind that those whom you are asking for opinions likely have their own experiences, motivation and biases that will come with their advice. Did your father have a failed business and then go back to working for a corporation the rest of his life? Is your best friend worried that if you start a business you will not have time for him anymore? Is someone going to say something that might discourage you to a point where you no longer want to be an entrepreneur ? (If this happens, stick with your day job. This is a great sign that you’re not in a position to start a business.)
I have approached this both ways with my businesses. In some cases, I have asked for opinions, in others I just went with my gut in starting a business. I honestly don’t have a preference, even considering the potential negatives that come with receiving business advice from friends and family members.
Just remember that the only question in speaking to others is whether it will provide good information to help you decide which business idea to pursue.
After a week or two of asking, researching, and introspecting, force yourself to choose ONE business idea and, for the time being, ignore everything else. This is a difficult task, I know. And the best way to do it is to take action on the idea that you chose.
2. Take Action
Second, you must take action on your business idea and do it FAST.
Entrepreneurs have the tendency to get bored or distracted. The sure-fire way to maintain your focus on one business idea is to do something about it immediately. The larger an investment you spend on one business concept, and the sooner you do it after making a decision, the more likely you are to stick with it and not get distracted by other ideas.
There are several ways to take action with your business idea:
-announce publicly that you are starting your business
-quit your job
The more money or time you invest, or more drastic the move that you take in furtherance of your business idea, the more likely you are to keep the momentum going. Along those same lines, the business idea is not the trigger to get your business started. Taking bold action is the trigger.
If you want to actually start a business and not just think about it forever, take action. And rest assured, whatever action you take, whether it works or not, will be a success in the long run.
3. Don’t Let the Fear of Failure Paralyze You
The fear of failure is one of the main reasons why entrepreneurs get stuck in the rut of inaction. The fear of their business idea failing is what prevents a significant majority of self-proclaimed entrepreneurs from ever taking action.
What they don’t see is that their failure to take action is the BIGGEST FAILURE OF ALL.
Let me explain.
Creating a viable business idea is a lot like dating- the quickest path to success is through the process of elimination.
If you were dating someone that really wasn’t right for you, do you want them to tell you immediately or would you rather they drag you along? The answer is clear. (Although in the moment, the “dragging” might not seem like such a bad idea.)
With business ideas, we have so much control over whether our startup is successful. In fact, the most successful companies are usually those who are able to adapt and evolve the best. However, even if the business fails, along with the myriad lessons and experiences that would come with such an event, it would get you that much closer to what will work.
I get it, rejection and failure are hard. But if they get you closer to achieving success are you willing to take the risk? (This is another one of those questions in which the answer separates what I consider an entrepreneur from an employee).
The interesting thing is that with a lot of the entrepreneurs that I have talked to, they say that they’re not pulling the trigger on their startup because they can’t narrow their options down to one. They get distracted. As I have experienced this, the truth is they fear failure. When they fear failure or don’t have the confidence in themselves to focus and take action, a lot of times they blame it on having too many ideas. For some reason, that makes them feel better. It shouldn’t.
And if you want to feel better about your decision to not take action on your business idea, you’ve come to the wrong place.
Ultimately, if you want to succeed in business, you have to try. Then you fail. Then you try again. That is success.
If you are having difficulty coming up with a business idea or you are struggling to narrow your ideas down to just one, follow the formula prescribed above: 1. Focus, 2. Take Action, 3. Don’t Let the Fear of Failure Paralyze You.
If that doesn’t work. Call me. We’ll get you figured out.
Leave a Reply