I've noticed a common thought-pattern that slows down a lot of people's business progress:
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 or years... and you could be in preparation mode for the rest of your life.
Take note of the following ways that "preparation mode" often shows up:
(1) "I just need to get this one more training, this one other certification... then I'll be ready."
There will always be yet another training or certification being sold to you, that you "must" take if you are to feel confident, and finally ready.
This is what marketers (including learning institutions) tend to do -- Create gaps in your mind, the fear of missing out (FOMO), or the fear of failure or being embarrassed if you don't buy their courses or trainings.
Unfortunately, it does work to make some short-term sales, so the marketer thinks, "aha! this is a successful strategy" and the buyer/student feels "Yes, just this one more training will make me feel ready!" In the long-term, it's a lose-lose for both parties. (The marketers lose because their conscience will eventually catch up.)
(2) "I need to first develop a fool-proof clarity about my framework & methodology... 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."
The "Truth" about your modality/framework is not something you'll ever be able to fully understand and comprehensively describe in your lifetime.
New understandings will always be unfolding, and therefore, revisions of previous knowledge are always inevitable.
Trying to get to "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 when I didn't have any framework. I just taught what I understood at that moment. Who appreciated and benefitted from what I knew then? People who understood even less than me. (In other words, there will always be people who understand less than you, who would benefit from whatever experience you already have.)
Then, as I kept learning from real-world experience, I kept updating my framework and teaching what was true for me in that moment.
There are always people who can benefit from what you already know now. Just start talking, teaching, sharing your knowledge. That is actually the best, real way to learn -- by observing what other people get, from what you say.
(3) "I just 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 caretaking for kids, parents, or another person, is essentially a full-time job.
And yet, I have clients who have young kids, or aging parents, who also consistently carve out time to do productive actions to build their business.
Don't wait. Just carve out whatever sliver of time you can, to take real action. Don't let your family be an excuse you make to delay your business. Otherwise, you may even falsely blame them later...
(4) "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.
There are very few cases in which I've seen clients that legitimately need to update their entire website. Typically, they can just launch with a particular landing page having been updated, since that's where the vast majority of traffic will go.
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 real action to market your business.
There are plenty of things I could do to improve my website, but I just keep sharing content, sending newsletters, reaching out for potential promotional partners, doing launches, etc.... and just gradually make improvements to my website over time.
Don’t be afraid of mistakes or missed opportunities.
Don't try to be perfect at all.
Break your pattern of delay.
Do the real actions that are needed to build your business:
(1) Consistently let your network know, in a direct way, that your business exists, and what your offerings are. Do this through social media, email newsletters, and personal outreach.
(2) Publicly share what you already know in your field, so that you can educate and grow your audience. Do this through consistently posting helpful content. Do this on social media, and send a regular email newsletter to those who have opted in on your website. (Don't send email newsletter to friends/colleagues/family unless they have specifically asked to receive it.)
(3) Consistently be reaching out to potential promotional partners, colleagues you might enjoy collaborating with. You could cross-promote each other's content or offerings, or it might make sense for the promotion to go only one way but the other party gets other types of exchange.
Additional reading: Truly Productive To-Do List for 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.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for Counselors, Coaches, Speakers, and Authors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.