I’m currently working on a project where I share my story starting out in entrepreneurship. It made me sit down and really think about what drove me to start my business.
I wrote passionately about this in the past, largely focused on the emotional toll an entrepreneur like myself faces while working for others.
In this article, I want to share with you how I started in entrepreneurship, albeit a bit late because of one overriding factor: decision paralysis.
So, let’s define this to begin:
Decision Paralysis: A condition of not being able to decide on a matter when there is no clear cut best option. It leads to an ever longer period of gather more information in the hope that more information will guide the decision maker to an option that is clearly better.
This seems to be a common problems with young entrepreneurs, whether they are just looking to start their journey or already have a business under their belt. Many of us just have minds that race through exciting ideas and opportunities. That’s a major benefit to an entrepreneurial mind, but it has risks as well.
So this is my story of how I faced decision paralysis – and eventually beat it. I think you’ll be able to relate, and so, you can benefit from how I beat it in the end.
Inundated With Ideas, Opportunity, and Inspiration
Every week, I would continue building out my business ideas. Dozens of different projects I could start at any point. Some were pure concepts, others fleshed out with financials, products, and delivery defined.
And yet, I hadn’t actually started on any of them. I was still working my job while studying for my MBA. It wasn’t what I wanted, but that’s where I found myself.
So, what was the limiting factor that stopped me from starting one of these projects? It’s surely the money you would need upfront, or that fact that you can’t just start a business and be profitable the next week. Or that I needed to do more research before it would make sense to begin, right?
The Limiting Factor
Actually, I had a typical entrepreneurial issue. I wanted to do so many things and could never decide on which to focus on.
I could have started multiple projects, but I knew that wasn’t the smart way to approach things. Choosing just one ripped me apart emotionally and mentally. It’s so far from my philosophy to choose just one, even though I know it’s important when starting in entrepreneurship.
My final decision to enter entrepreneurship was made by combining a few key factors: being sick of working for someone else, conviction that I could run my own business, confidence in delivering value to others, and an idea that ignited my passions, interests, and needs.
Let me explain that last part. That’s the real driving factor that made the decision happen.
The Key To Getting Out Of My Own Way
I decided to start consulting with growing companies in digital marketing strategy. Let’s break this down to why it works for me.
Consulting means you work with a variety of companies over time. That isn’t the same job day after day. It’s new projects constantly, and potentially, multiple projects at once. That eases my entrepreneurial spirit that doesn’t like monotony.
I love companies that embrace growing, so that’s who my clients would be. Through combining what I can offer companies and what mindset the company executives need to have to find success, it only made sense to work with these types of businesses.
Digital marketing strategy was my offering. Digital marketing itself is a large subject that covers many areas, all of which I love. But, I could never be an expert in every area. The idea of focusing on a specific element, like web design, online advertising, or content marketing, still felt too confining and unaligned to what I love.
I love helping companies grow and at the core of that is strategy. With my expertise in understanding the complete digital marketing landscape, I found my focus on digital strategy. I love doing it and businesses desperately need it. It took a long time to discover this, but it was a worthwhile wait. In retrospect, however; I’d start sooner because you learn a lot more once you begin!
As a bonus to all of this:
My business combined many passions and interests. This was another element that was vital to starting. You often hear, “follow your passion”, but there isn’t a clear path to doing so.
Instead, I realized that a grouping of interests and passions collided with what I can do each day. They aren’t direct, but they are all relevant. The intersection that combined bits of each interest made it something I would find fulfilling. For me, these interests were psychology, communication, neuroscience, emotional intelligence, growth, strategy, and, of course, digital marketing.
How Can This Work For You?
I’m not trying to say everyone should become a consultant. It’s a valid option for many, but it isn’t the only way to get started.
What I’m saying is the following:
- Make sure you have something uniquely valuable to you and your potential customers. In digital marketing, most people focus on tactics, yet disregard the overall digital strategy. That’s part of why I focus on marketing strategy.
- Decide what your core values and driving philosophy is in life. Mine is strongly correlated with growth.
- Go after what you love to do. For me, it was digital strategy. It’s defined but different for every client. I find that exciting.
- Look at all your passions and interests in different areas and see where they may be incorporated into potential businesses and projects. For me, I had many topics I’d study but didn’t think of how they can be part of my business. I wasn’t a psychologist or neuroscientist, so how were they relevant? Well, they are! (See neuromarketing article here.)
For practicality, take these steps now:
- List all your passions and interests. Let your mind flow freely. Take a few minutes in the morning, in the afternoon, and then again in the evening for this. Your brain will think differently at different times, so it’s worth visiting at different times of the day.
- Define your core values. You can also think about your personal vision and philosophy for life. Whatever principles guide your decisions, growth, and happiness, write them out.
- Start validating your business ideas by making sure they are valuable to you and your clients. For you, does it match your core values and driving principles in life? If it does, will it also benefit your target customers or clients, or do they have better alternatives?
This is an extremely concise summary – I realize it isn’t this simple. Each area can take an entire book itself. But, getting started is better than waiting to do more research, right?
Have you faced decision paralysis? The answer must be yes for everyone, but was there a certain moment that’s most salient in your mind? Please share that in the comments below!