A common thought-pattern that prevents a lot of people from making progress in their business:
Before I... [take the next real step in my business]
…I need to first do [some preparatory action that takes a lot of time]
…so that I'll feel more ready/confident to move forward.
This is a dangerous train of thought because "preparation" always sounds logical... until you wake up to the fact that you have already been preparing for months (maybe years!)… and you can be in preparation mode for the rest of your life.
Here are some ways that "preparation mode" often shows up:
"I just need to get this one more training, this additional certification... then I'll be ready."
There will always be another training or certification being sold to you, that you "must" to feel confident and finally ready.
This is what marketers (and learning institutions) tend to do — create gaps in your mind, the fear of missing out (FOMO) and the fear of failure if you don't sign up for their training.
True learning happens through action in the real world. Too many trainings are about knowledge-transfer from “expert” to student, rather than witnessing and guiding the students’ action-taking in real time.
Honestly, most of you reading this have gotten enough training to do your work. By actually helping people (starting with your friends) with the skills you wish to be an expert at, you will learn more than consuming yet another course or book.
"I first need to develop fool-proof clarity about my framework... then I can create and share content with the world. I don't want to embarrass myself by having to publicly revise my ideas later."
You will find that your framework, as you start to develop it, is so expansive and deep -- and ever evolving -- that it is not something you'll be able to completely understand and describe before you get out there and share what you know.
New understanding will always be unfolding, and therefore, revisions of previous knowledge are inevitable.
Trying to get “the right idea” before you start publicly sharing your knowledge means that you will be in preparation mode for the rest of your life.
I started teaching in 2009 before I had what I’d now call a “framework”. I just taught what I understood at the moment, what I already had found to be helpful. Who appreciated and benefitted from what I knew? People who understood even less than me.
There will always be people who understand less than you, who would benefit from whatever experience you already have, without you having to learn more.
Then, as I kept learning from real-world experience, I created my framework and kept updating it, each time, teaching what was true for me in that moment.
Again, there are always people who can benefit from what you already know. Just start talking, teaching, and sharing your knowledge. That is actually the best, real way to learn -- by observing other people’s reactions to whatever it is that you share in the moment.
"I need to wait until my kids are older... I just need to wait until my parents no longer need my caretaking... then I will build my business."
It is true that any kind of caretaking, whether for kids, parents, or someone else, takes an enormous amount of energy.
Yet, I have clients with young kids, or aging parents, who consistently carve out time to do productive actions to build their business. I’m so proud of them, that they simply try to show up each week with at least a few hours put into their business.
Don't wait. Just carve out a sliver of time each week to take real action. Don't let your family be an excuse to delay your business. Otherwise, you may even blame them later.
"I need to fully update my website... then I'll be ready to share about my business, create and distribute content, reach out for promotional partners, do my launch, etc..."
No matter how much time and money you spend on it, you will always feel that your website can be improved.
Typically, you can just launch with a particular landing page having been updated, since that's where the vast majority of traffic will go anyway. Read about it: why you might only need a one-page website.
Unless you're getting consistent comments from people about a specific thing that you must change on your website, it is better to look at your website as a work-in-progress-forever, and just keep making small improvements even as you take action to market specific aspects of your business.
There are plenty of things I can do to improve my website, but I just keep sharing content, sending newsletters, reaching out for potential promotional partners, doing launches, etc… and gradually make improvements to my website over time.
Don’t be afraid of mistakes, nor missed opportunities.
Being “perfect” is an illusion. You already know and have enough to take real action.
Break your pattern of delay.
Do the real actions that are needed to build your business:
As you look at your schedule for the week or month, be concerned if much of your time will be spent in "learning" or preparation mode.
Break the pattern of delay!
Decide today to spend the majority of your working hours doing the things that actually move your business forward.
This post was originally written in 2017. Updated in 2021.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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