How to overcome analysis paralysis (episode 42)

Show notes from The Sweaty Startup podcast episode 42.

Analysis paralysis is the act of over-analyzing and over-researching a potential business venture to the point of taking no action at all for long periods of time.

Ready… Aim. Aim. Aim. Aim. Aim.

Never firing a shot.

I would say this (along with the fear of failure) is the main reason many otherwise brilliant and high-potential people never end up starting a business and building the life they want.

Diving in and committing to one business and pushing onward can be hard for a number of reasons:

  1. The opportunities are endless. The number of businesses you could potentially start, even in a small town with a limited skillset, ranges in the hundreds.
  2. The resources for analysis are endless. The internet is amazing but it can be the cause for information overload. You can find and read amazing content on any question you could ever consider asking. I find myself addicted to google. I get curious about something and start searching. The next thing I know 30 minutes is gone and I’m learning about ancient chinese martial arts. Not only the the internet but podcasts (like this one), self help books and online courses.
  3. The number of markets and companies out there to study are endless. You can always find more competitors in other cities to study and research.
  4. There is no perfect opportunity. There will always be hair. It’s hard starting something. You want it to be hard or everyone would be doing it.
  5. After the initial high of getting started when everything is fun and you are learning quickly there is a long slow moving period where things happen slowly. It takes a while to get momentum. It takes a while to get your website on the first page of google. It takes a while to get word of mouth churning. You’ll be out there sweating, toiling away laboring for a year or even longer in the early days.
  6. Its uncomfortable being different. You might be seeking validation from the wrong people. Take advice from everyone but only apply what resonates with you and aligns with your mission and your goals. Starting a business is doing exactly the opposite of what 99.9% of people do.

So how can we combat analysis paralysis and just make something happen?

Understand that most of the resources are broadly applicable and if you don’t have a project to apply them to they are nearly worthless and will be forgotten in a few days. Simply put you can listen to podcasts about how to ski, read reddit articles like this about how to ski, read blogs about how to ski and if you don’t get out there and actually ski you will never learn how to ski. Business is the same.

You must understand that time (not money) is your most valuable asset. Every day (beyond a reasonable amount) you waste doing research should be viewed as lost earning potential.

We’re not re-inventing the wheel here. A strong healthy competitor is a good sign. That means the market is there. The customers are there. We know it can work. Don’t let a strong competitor scare you off if you believe the market is large and growing every day.

Just because there is a good strong competitor doesn’t mean you can’t carve out a piece of the pie and build a successful business. If the market is large and growing every day, like most services, you might not need to steal a single customer from that strong competitor. You might not even need to get all the new customers. You might just need to get a few of the many at first to get some momentum.

Consider setting up a few businesses. It takes just a few days of focused work to get a Google My Business location, logo, website and the essential set of the tools set up for customers to find you. You don’t have to learn it yet. You don’t have to buy the equipment yet. You don’t have to form an LLC and get insurance yet. I did this with lawn care, painting and athletic training along the same time frame I was building my first successful business. The lawn care website stuck and now my brother is operating a successful business there.

Understand that value and money aren’t always equal and successful entrepreneurs are really good at understanding value. They are good at seeing beyond the bank account when devoting energy and resources towards building something that will be worth something in the future. If you are focused on money in the near term you’ll get discouraged and give up quickly.

Fight the urge to be “busy” doing small menial tasks and instead work on the things that are important but not urgent to propel your business forward as quickly as possible. Don’t worry about the fluff initially. Don’t spend weeks writing a business plan. Don’t make your training videos before you have customers. Get the big stuff done so you can get to market as quick as possible with a simplified version of your service.

Its low risk if you do it the right way. We’re talking $500 or less to get the tools to let customers find you. Time and opportunity cost is the real factor here. Buy things used. Keep your expenses variable.

Work quickly and efficiently. For a low skilled and low investment business you can do a sufficient market analysis in a day or two. Don’t drag on and on working on things that you can easily learn on the fly while out servicing customers. Everything takes time to develop so its critical you get the ball rolling as soon as you can.

Continue to consume material but spend time applying it. The real value from self help material like this comes from spending time thinking about how to apply it to your own experiences. This is general stuff for a reason. Its meant for you to grasp the overall concepts and pass on the stuff that doesn’t apply and get serious about the stuff that does.

When you launch be sure to set goals. Get serious about your marketing so you have a chance to succeed but if it isn’t working move on just as quickly as you started.

If it is working get serious about buckling down and working on something that is going to take time to develop. It won’t be fun all the time. You won’t get paid right away. Its a 3-5 year plan. Power through the dip until you reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

Look at each venture as taking a shot. Ready. Aim. Fire.

A shot is only a few days work and a few bucks for hosting. Why wouldn’t you take a lot of shots?

I can see spending more time aiming in the tech world when you are investing years and years or in the product world where you are investing thousands of dollars. But this is low risk stuff we’re talking about here.

Ready. Aim. Fire. Aim. Fire. Aim. Fire. Aim. Fire.

You’ll hit a target that way and the momentum will get behind you.

Don't know where to start?
About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.