Think back to the beginning of your journey. Or, perhaps you’re here right now: overwhelmed by the choices, drowning in info, all the options and none of the focus.
In today’s world, with the “minimalism movement” upon us, there’s a good chance you’ve heard that more does not equal more. More stuff doesn’t mean more happiness (in fact, the science is starting to reveal that the opposite is true.)
And yet, when it comes to forging our own paths and setting up a shiny new business, most of us are tempted and tantalized by #allthethings.
If you’re a new entrepreneur feeling totally overwhelmed by your options, or maybe you’ve been at this for a while and still find yourself freezing up, this one’s for you.
Three Big Threats
As an entrepreneur early in your journey, you’re in danger. You’re at risk.
There’s a chance you’ll quit before you even really get started. And there are three big threats that would love to knock you off track forever.
1. Information Overload
Beware of advanced tactics, tips, strategies and promises made on the pages of expertly written sales pages.
Nothing against the experts & gurus (we mean well!), it’s just that you literally don’t need that stuff right now.
You need an internet connection. Sometimes, in a local community, you don’t even need that much.
You need a thing, and you need people to buy your thing.
As helpful as it would be to find the magic bullet or shortcut, there’s just no substitute for the diligent, disciplined approach (don’t worry, we checked.)
That being said, there is such as a thing as the right information when you need it. It should be strategic, relevant , timely and applicable. For more on “just in time learning”, read here.
Everything about you and your business is going to transform and change shape many times before you “get it right”.
I know how tempting it is to try to anticipate the “final product” so you can nail this out of the gate.
The truth is, you can’t know now what you’ll know then. You will be different too: more experience, more learnings and you’ll even be braver for having tried and stumbled.
So trust your future self and all the wisdom she’ll have. Your job is take Step One today, without worrying about what will happen at Step 27.
Fear is what keeps us paralyzed, and action is the enemy of fear.
When we take action, no matter how small, fear gives way to momentum.
And where momentum happens, paralysis can’t survive.
Are you sensing a pattern yet?
The answer is always “do the work”
I know you’ve heard it before, on every commercial for athletic shoes and motivational elementary school posters around the world.
But if you don’t the do work — the real work — nothing else matters.
We can’t wait for clarity (clarity comes from action.) We can’t wait to be “ready” (because it never really comes.)
It’s never too early to start building and you’ll always wish you started yesterday.
The incredibly good news is that you can get started today, right now.
Before this day is over, it’s possible to gain some traction.
There are two things you can work on right away, tomorrow and the day after that:
Audience: In order to build a business, you need people — maybe more than you have today, but possibly not as many as you think.
You can create a piece of content today to start creating your body of work and steadily building an audience of people who like your stuff.
Not only will you start building a following, but you’ll build your skills and hone your craft every time you click “publish” whether you’re writing, podcasting or building a YouTube channel.
Commit to a long term content strategy and aim for consistency. Imagine you’re building your empire one brick at a time.
Each time you lay a brick, that’s progress.
Product: This one is pretty simple. The objective is to find someone you can help, right now.
Where can you go to start offering your expertise? Facebook groups, your local community, Quora, relevant forums?
You can do this without standing on a soapbox and shouting about your services. This looks like real, authentic helping.
When you notice someone is struggling with something you know about, it’s as simple as offering to jump on Skype to talk him through it. Before you know it, someone will want to pay to work with you.
Over on the Courage & Clarity podcast, Jessica Eley refers to this as the “Quick & Dirty Money” approach. It might not be your dream work, but it’ll teach you a lot and get you paid. Check out her Clarity episode to hear more.
Why you still aren’t jumping in
So the motivational speech didn’t work, and you already knew that whole thing about “doing the work”? I thought you might say that 🙂
If you feel like you know that you must take action to bust through your overwhelm, there are a few big reasons you might still be standing on the shoreline, afraid to dive in.
“I might waste my chance”
You know you want to help people and create awesome content, but maybe you’re afraid of missing your “one shot” with your people.
You’re worried you’ll start down one path, realize it’s the wrong one, and then have to fess up on a very public stage.
Solution: Recognize that no one really cares.
I can think of members of my own tribe who have been following me long before my Fizzle days, back when I was just starting out with my career coaching business and had zero clue what I was doing.
They are some of my favorite followers, and people who cheer me on through all the transitions. If anything, the pivots and lessons learned seem to have strengthened my reputation, not discredited me.
“I won’t seem like I know what I’m doing”
This one is easy: you don’t know what you’re doing, not 100% anyway. Neither do I, neither do any of us.
Solution: own it! Being transparent about the fact that you don’t know it all totally takes the pressure off.
You don’t have to pretend you’re more than you are. You have enough expertise to get started, and you can even announce that you’re learning as you go.
The internet has enough fake gurus acting like they’ve got it all figured out. Dare to be real with your audience, and you’ll feel that pressure to be perfect melt away.
“I might waste time on the wrong thing”
It’s true, you might.
This is a real fear; it’s terrifying to imagine sinking hours into one path, only to realize you could have been much happier working on something else.
Solution: Realize that making no decision is still making a decision.
We can’t avoid the tough decisions by standing still — that’s just deciding to do nothing at all. And doing nothing is definitely not going to take you where you want to go.
Action is worth the risk.
Listen, analyze & iterate
At the end of the day, we can’t forget the golden rule of indie entrepreneurship: every single thing in your business is an experiment. (If you don’t know that rule yet, check out the roadmap.)
If we treat all of it like one big game of trial & error, we don’t have to wait to be ready.
With every step, every attempt, each conversation, every click of the “publish” button, you’re learning.
We don’t have to have it all figured out. We just have to be brave enough to really observe the results of our experiments and allow them to guide the next step. And then the next one, and the next one.
We can plan as much as we want — I get it, I’m a major planner myself. But at a certain point, you must jump in and splash around.
It’s the only way to learn to really swim.