There are so many people out there with really great ideas. But, they never get out of the trap of over-thinking and over-analyzing everything. There’s a reason the Nike slogan was so powerful when it came out. “Just do it”. It’s a directive, get it done. But, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Do you even know who you are?
Most of the people I’ve met who have gotten stuck overthinking it, have been people who actually thrive when they’re told what to do. They’re not high-level thinkers, they’re technicians. So, when they’re in a position where nobody’s in charge, they find themselves taking more and more courses, reading more and more books, analyzing and over-analyzing information. They have a need to feel competent because their risk tolerance is low.
Technicians thrive in well-defined boxes, but they’re not good at creating them. And stupidly enough, a ton of entrepreneurship material out there is aimed at technicians, promising them that they too can become entrepreneurs. It’s deceiving, and it’s not true. The vast majority of people out there aren’t entrepreneurs. They’re great employees, they get the job done. But, when they fall under the spell of charlatans promising them riches, they’re lost little potatoes.
So, you better consider the question: am I good at making things happen out of thin air? Or am I really good at coming up with solutions to existing problems? Am I good at coming up with new ideas, or am I good at implementing them? Forget whether or not you’re keen on becoming an entrepreneur, and start thinking about whether or not you should.
Failure is beautiful!
For those of you who do have it in you, one of the key things to embrace is the fact that failing is everything. It’s your best teacher. It’s beautiful because it’s never misleading. Failing means you did something. You didn’t read about it, you didn’t dream about it. You took an action, and it backfired.
Failure is just an invitation to try again. I think that we’re never really scared of failure, we’re just scared to have to restart something all over again. It’s the time it takes to get something right that actually turns off a lot of people. Look, I get it, time is money. And to be frank, if you can’t pay the bills, it’s not time to be experimenting with a new idea. You have to be in a position where you have the luxury of failing.
Setup your environment.
Nothing annoys me more than business advice that starts with “quit your job and just jump in!”. No, don’t just jump in. First, setup an environment where you have the right framework to actually get things done. I mean it when I say that failing is a luxury. And people frequently think that taking additional courses, or reading a ton of books on a topic will reduce their failure rate. But, that’s not always the case! In certain industries, failure is a better teacher and you’ll learn more by doing than taking a course on it.
So, how can you setup a proper environment to take chances? By making sure your basic needs are met. That means having an emergency fund. I’m serious, don’t quit your day job until you have a buffer of money set aside in case things don’t work out. The amount of money you need really depends on the project you want to bring to life, your current debt load, and your lifestyle.
Consider start-up costs, incorporation costs, your rent or mortgage payments, and anything else you might need to get started. Consider whether or not you’ve already got clients lined up. (It can take three to six months to get your first client, otherwise!). Being financially ready will help you create the right environment to throw yourself into.
Do you need to quit your job to start working on your business? Absolutely not, you can start working on your project sooner than later by breaking it up into smaller chunks. There’s nothing stopping you from setting aside a couple of hours per week to start working on an online shop, or working on a new website. But, and I know this from experience, it is really hard to do both all at once. Eventually, you’ll want to go all in, or you’ll want a simpler life and just stick with working a job. Just don’t go all in under you’re ready for it.
If you’re wondering where to start, the answer is simple, “anywhere”. I mean it. While you’re working on creating the ideal environment for you to become a full-time freelancer or business owner, you can start writing copy for your website or making a list of prices for your products. What matters the most isn’t where you start, it’s that you actually start “doing”.
This is where most people get stuck because they get overwhelmed by every single little detail. And it’s perfectly ok to make a list of things you know you need to get done. But, the best way to make sure you actually get them done is to pick ONE and do it. Some people manage to get a lot of things done at one time, but most people are terrible at multitasking. Picking just one thing to do at a time is probably the most efficient way to work, especially if you tend to lose focus or lose motivation along the way.
Every little thing adds up.
Since it’s so easy to lose track of the things we’ve actually gotten done versus the things that are still left to do, I always recommend that people keep a copy of a “done list”. All the to-do stuff you’re crossing out? Keep that list in plain view. You’ll see that a month from now, six months from now, years later, what you’ve accomplished will surprise you.
A lot of stuff isn’t obvious at first glance. Building an email marketing list has more obvious growth than figuring out how many blog articles you’ve written over time. And on those ‘off’ days, you might only manage to reply to a few emails. Feel free to track that, too. There will be weeks where you feel like you haven’t done enough, so that will serve as a healthy reminder that you’re still getting things done!
Hang out with other doers.
It’s incredibly hard sometimes to be surrounded by moochers. Let’s just call it what it is, some people will try to ride the coat-tails of your success. Some people won’t understand why you’re so motivated. Some people won’t get what it’s like to claw your way through the muck to get somewhere.
When I lived in Montreal, I was awestruck by how artists were creating their own projects, bringing them to life, getting everything done themselves, because that’s what they wanted to do. Everyone seemed to be working on a “project”. It was beautiful to be surrounded by such highly motivated people! So, if you can, find your people. Find the people that make shit happen and become their friends, not because you want favours, but because you’ll be in good company. We sometimes need the company of people like us to remind ourselves of who we are at times when we might have forgotten.
I wish that I could help everyone make things happen. I know so many people with big dreams, and big ideas. But, the best you can do for anyone is to invite them along. And sometimes, that means doing it yourself. If people see you in action, then maybe they too will believe that it’s possible.