Advice For Young Entrepreneurs – Paralysis by Analysis

One of the best pieces of business advice I’ve ever received comes courtesy of my Dad.

“Just get the business first and worry about how to make money later”.

It is a line he’s repeated to me no less than 137 times over the last decade, and it only took 101 times of repeating it for it to fully sink in.

My old man is far from a philosopher and never spent a day on a college campus, but he is a great entrepreneur and the best salesman east of the Mississippi River.

What he was trying to get me to understand with his simple statement was how to overcome the always daunting psychological reality of paralysis by analysis.

Anyone that has ever debated putting their money/reputation on the line has encountered that doubtful voice in the back of their head that creeps into every thought and decision a young entrepreneur must make.

That internal voice can be a loud & anxiety-inducing brick wall.

The old phrase is “quitting is never an option”, but that isn’t true and deep down we all know that. Quitting or never starting is the easiest option.

It is the comfortable/safe way out. There is no discomfort or embarrassment with the status quo.

If you don’t feel anxiety approaching the edge of your comfort zone with starting a new business or launching a new product then please call me and explain to me how you’re managing that because I’d love to learn.

Granted, I’ve felt this anxiety lessen over time with each new business success, but it never fully goes away.

The beauty in what my old man repeats so often is that there are too many unknowns and details to ever fully tackle before getting started so why focus on that at all?

Land your first customer and the rest will work itself out naturally because it has to. You don’t control the details. Often time the details are controlling you which is all part of the game.

Entrepreneurs who can adapt the fastest will come home with the most prizes.

Paralysis by analysis is a mental Mt. Everest a good portion of the global population can’t climb.

How many people do you know that have had a “good idea” but there was never any execution?

Granted, the failure to execute could be attributed to laziness, but I’d argue it is self-doubt and too many internal “what ifs” bouncing around in their head.

With a new business idea comes this tornado of details and what-if scenarios that leaves the majority of people with the inability to make any decisions. Action & execution is what is most important, not the details.

Most young wannabe entrepreneurs get stuck on minor details or begin focusing on what three years down the road will look like and they don’t even have a customer yet. Why are you worried about financial success 36 months from now or what your logo will look like if you don’t even have a single customer yet?

I can crunch any set of numbers to make them say whatever I want. I can make any business idea look profitable or unprofitable in a spreadsheet. We make up numbers on the spot and try to hit those numbers in the future.

It’s not that the financials aren’t important, but the reality is that it’s almost impossible to accurately predict the financial future of your new business so why let that limit the actions you take today?

The sole focus of a young entrepreneur getting started with any business is to get customers and get them today. That first customer will teach you more than any article or book. This article I’m writing now is nothing more than encouragement.

The only way to truly learn anything about your business or your customers is to sell them something. That forces you to develop your product or service, price it, source the parts, deliver upon your promise, etc.

Quit overthinking the details and the numbers behind every decision. There are no “right” answers anyway. There are only decisions to be made and work to be done.

You won’t know if your actions and choices were correct until some point in the future anyway so don’t stress over their financial impact now. Worry about the future when it gets here.

As a young entrepreneur, if you’re putting in the time and effort it takes to get a young business off of the ground then the money part of things will work themselves out.

As the great General Patton once said, “A Good Plan, Violently Executed Now, Is Better Than a Perfect Plan Next Week.”

Crunching numbers in a spreadsheet is great, but don’t let minor details & nuances limit big action.

Thank you for your time,

Scott Kohler