Don’t Plan Too Much!
Help! I have many startup plans but all failed even before I actually start one…
Are you an entrepreneur who is keen to start a business (or businesses) but often failed even before you actually start one? You are not alone. Many of us are having the same problem as you do – and that’s including me.
Hello – I am addicted to planning.
Okay – it’s different from the AA meeting, but I often get absorbed in the planning stage, and eventually fail miserably when it comes to taking action.
You see, I like starting up things. Let’s say I am a startup addict. Being a startup addict or junkie is actually a good thing – you are full of ideas and you are a visionary. Unfortunately a “startup” is a, well, a startup when you actually turn your plan into a real, operating business.
I see my habit as a destructive one. I like to start, but I cannot finish what I have started. I often stuck at planning stage, and even when I have finally be able to move forward, I soon lose interest in my business idea.
As an introvert, I like to think on many things – and that’s including in starting up a business. I plan a lot and often trap myself in my thought, hindering me to see what’s in the future for me.
I lack “visualization” skills and I often strangle my imagination; I can’t imagine I run my business. Why? It’s because I stuck with my pros-cons thinking and I often bury myself in numbers and stats – including competitor analysis and such.
Don’t get me wrong – planning is great, but if you are doing it too much in a way that you are losing your interest and passion as soon as you great plan is about to be turned into a real business, it’s pretty much waste of time and effort.
But, hey – problems exist to be solved, right? Today, I learn NOT to plan too much and do my visualization, seeing whether this business is what I actually want to run.
Some practical tips from my personal experience
I am, by any means, not a psychologist. But I am in a business environment that demands me to able to embrace change (I’m in web business.) Everyday is often a new challenge for me, and if I am late in taking action, it’s almost guaranteed that I will lose many opportunities.
During my short 5 years of webpreneurial career, I learn that the key in online business, your imagination and creativity is even more important than your logic.
Even if you can’t code, if you have ideas and imagination, you will thrive in this industry. On the other hands, changes are typically rapid in online business: What’s working last month might not be the case next month.
It’s often difficult for me, but I’m getting used to see my websites of different types and niches rise and fall regularly. Changes of visitors’ interest, search engine algorithms, trends, and so on – everything in web business world seems so dynamic – for better or worse.
So to embrace the changes in my business planning and improve the possibility for me to transform my business plans into a real business, here’s what I do:
1. Taking action is all about habit – get into the groove!
Perhaps you are just like me: I need to see small successes first before I commit to something bigger.
Early in my website flipping journey (I am a web publisher, builder and flipper,) I like to start a website and flip it for less than $150. When I started to gather my courage, I start buying websites, develop them and sell them for (way much) more than the purchase price. Then I deal with 4-digit websites.
I once sold a $250 blog for $3,000 in less than 6 months of development. It may not be significant for others, but for me it’s an achievement. It gave me the confidence to take action more on bigger projects.
Along the way, I deal with failures – including scams – but the successes get me into the groove, telling me that I’m doing something right; suddenly, turning my plan into something real has became a habit.
2. Start small and bootstrap everything
Brand identity/design is important, but spending too much resource on those things loses you the focus: Establishing a revenue-generating business that makes a difference.
The idea is for you to start small; when your business grows, then you can start improving everything else. Again, focus on your business growth – not makeup.
Why spend $1,000s of website design if you can buy a premium template that costs you less than $50? Why build $1,000 software to support your business if you can use a $20/month cloud-based app? Why lease an office for $20,000/year if you can start from your garage? Why in-house if you can outsource?
3. Surround yourself with positive people who shares your mindset
You know what’s the culture in Silicon Valley? Those creative tech entrepreneurs talk failures openly. They embrace failure well. They know what they have launched might not work out so well, but they do it anyway – some make it, some don’t. When they fail, they just pursue other ideas – rinse and repeat.
When you are in online business industry, you need to network with webmasters and web business owners. You will learn a great deal from them; you can also share your experience with others.
4. Just do it (with proper planning!)
Starting up without a plan is not my thing; I like to set a plan first to see whether my idea is feasible to be turned into reality. But once you have your plan ready, don’t hesitate to move on!
Please bear in mind, failing to start doesn’t mean you are experiencing business failures; it’s worse than that…
Failures are great – as one more failure means you are one step closer to your goal. Failing to start, in my opinion, is worse than failing. When you are experiencing failure, you learn from it. When you fail to start, you have no idea whatsoever whether your idea will be turned into a successful business or not.
Please keep in mind, if you think your idea won’t succeed, then just move on to the next one – no big deal… don’t sweat it too much. However, if you think your idea will have a chance, just do it – don’t wait too much.
Don’t let yourself stuck in the planning process, saying that “this is necessary” or “this is crucial.” Your planning stage is just yet another stage in your startup process. You need to have a deadline to follow and your next step after planning stage is to actually get things rolling. Keep yourself on schedule and, again, don’t delay things.
So – are you ready to turn your plan into a real business?