You might be on the fence about starting your own business. or maybe you already have, and aren’t seeing the growth that you want to see. Well, no matter where you are, the number one challenge for new entrepreneurs is this: converting people into loyal, paying customers!
Life, as well as business, is all about taking action. Taking action is the only way to make progress, and if you want to make progress, then you’ve got to Get Off Your Ass. You’ll see an acronym for this around the forums and blogs and looks like this: GOYA. (Nope, not the beans)
Anyway, You know this already, and you probably beat yourself up over it. You know what to do, but you don’t do it. You want to get started, but it doesn’t happen. You’ve got the dream, but you don’t put the hours in. First off, let’s put to rest the myth about why it’s so hard sometimes to GOYA.
Myth: You are lazy.
Laziness doesn’t keep you from GOYA. You might be lazy, but I think it’s something else that is blocking your energy. I mean I know I’m an inherently lazy person, but everyone else only sees me as a workaholic. People who are lazy can often do rather well because they’re creative. Rather than spend a lot of time and energy spinning their wheels, they figure out the amount of work that will give them the most results, then they focus on that.
If you are lazy, then you need to get your head out of the nether regions of your posterior.
As long as you keep telling yourself, “I’m lazy,” you’ll keep getting exactly what you have today. Failure to GOYA doesn’t come from some kind of personality defect. It comes from specific blocks to your natural energetic state.
Problem #1: You don’t see what’s possible.
This is probably the most common reason people don’t start businesses — or fail them.
It’s in our nature to fear the unknown. It’s our nature to steer away from activities that we don’t see anyone else doing. That’s our primitive “lizard brain” trying to keep us alive. If you don’t really believe it’s ever going to work, why would you GOYA in the first place? It makes more sense to watch TV or waste some time on Twitter.
Solution: Find role models for the kind of business you want to create. Spend as much time with those role models as you can. If you want more customers, more energy to create a cool business, and more drive to succeed, hang out with people who have those things now. That’s why country clubs and networking events exist, so get out and put yourself somewhere you meet “your” kind of people.
Problem #2: You don’t have structures in place
Every successful person you know of has little habits or rituals in place that make GOYA possible. Some follow formal systems, like the Franklin-Covey or Getting Things Done frameworks. Others just have little private rituals they link together.
Solution: Create a simple productivity structure that makes it easy to develop good habits.
There are really just two elements to any successful productivity system. One, figure out what you need to do next on any given project. Don’t put “Launch my website” on your to-do list; put “Write outline” or “Research my primary topic” or “Talk with Blogger XYZ about a guest post to promote.”
Rather than throw big, vague ideas, break them down into the next action steps for you to take. Then string those actions together and you come up with finished projects. String together completed projects and you come up with a successful business.
When you’re planning your Next Step, it needs to be no longer than the amount of time you can work uninterrupted. Which leads us to the second key element: blocking out chunks of uninterrupted time to focus on your most important project.
Once you’ve identified the Next Action to take, you need to block out time on your calendar and make an unbreakable commitment to doing it. You may start small with just five minutes a day. Consistency and focus are much more important than the raw number of hours you spend. Use a timer, and turn off all distractions such as email, Facebook, your phone, etc.
Gradually work up to longer periods, but for most of us, keep them to no longer than 50 minutes, then take a quick break to refresh your body and mind. We all know there’s no such thing as free time.
You’ve got to fight for it. You might wake up a half hour early in the morning, stay up a half hour later at night, or (this one is often the best) use the time the rest of your family spends watching TV.
Problem #3: You haven’t set up any accountability
Only a small fraction of people can GOYA all by themselves. Most of us need to leverage the power of other people’s expectations to make it happen. You probably don’t want to try and use your friends and family for accountability unless they’re also entrepreneurs. They’re not going to understand your particular challenges or victories, and they’re too likely to say something like, “Maybe you just aren’t cut out for this.”
Instead, get out there and find some other entrepreneurs who are at about the same level you are. Meet regularly and make commitments to getting your action steps completed. You might have a face-to-face group, a weekly Skype call, a Google+ hangout — whatever works for you.
Solution: Find a group of peers who have similar goals to your own. Meet regularly to check your progress on your projects, and to hold each other accountable.
Every week, commit to a specific Next Action Steps, then let your group know about the commitment. It doesn’t matter how big or how small the steps are. What matters is that when others are looking for the results, you’ll hold yourself more accountable. Don’t try to do this yourself. Very few people manage it. Instead, construct an accountability structure that makes it easy to develop productive habits.
Problem #4: You stop at the first barrier
Because of our lack of role models, we have a silly idea that progress toward our goals is supposed to move forward in a straight line. No one’s success looks like this. No one’s. Anything as complex as running a business — even a small side business — has side tracks, dead ends, and false starts. So plan for that. Don’t get married to a single plan of action. Stay consistent about your eventual goal, but flexible about exactly how you’re going to get there.
Solution: Have a game plan for what happens when “Plan A” doesn’t turn out the way you thought. Who can you ask for advice on your next steps? Do you have a support network for the times when you’re feeling discouraged? This is where your accountability team comes into play.
Problem #5: You’re scared
This is really the combination of all of the other blocks together. Failure is scary. Reaching for a big goal has a lot of uncomfortable moments. When you’re scared, it’s very, very hard to GOYA.
Solution: Make the habits I’ve described here part of your life, not just your business.
The more structures you have, the more positive habits you build, the less fear will be able to stop you. All entrepreneurs feel fear, everyone has fear. But the fear of having your own business isn’t nearly as crushing as the fear of letting someone else like your boss, or the economy, or any other external factor control your fate. Start small, developing positive habits and a network of action-takers (not dreamers and drifters). You’ll be amazed at the way that small, consistent progress can start to grow into great things.
Devon Dudeman gets paid to sit in front of a computer screen and sell things. Occasionally he does promotional work for offline clients, and trades options. Whodathunkit? He recently released Guest Blogging Secrets, and likes to show other college kids how to make make money doing things they already do.