The greatest gift of being a small business owner is freedom of choice.
We get to choose our path, our business model, how we price our services, who we take on as clients, how we spend our time and everything in between.
The choice is ours.
And that feels pretty awesome for about 87.6 seconds until we realize that with these endless options, comes the agonizing reality that we actually have to choose something and forgo something else.
That’s when our greatest gift becomes our greatest obstacle.
We start to second-guess our strategies, doubt our capacities, question our decisions and move further and further away from meaningful action. We spend our time gathering more information under the guise of research, closely monitoring our competition in hopes of they’ll leave a bread crumb trail to success, and write out our ‘plan’ for the 145th time in a well-worn notebook.
It’s here that we hope that clarity will come – that we’ll have a stroke of insight so strong and so certain that we’ll just know what to do next, and we can finally stop all the messy, muddy, “what the hell am I doing?” conversation, and step into the place where everything will shift.
I have watched this unfold hundreds of times. I have listened to clients express their frustration and agony over not being clear enough to know what to do next. I have helped them navigate the pangs of analysis-paralysis that come from too many choices and not enough trust to pick one and get started. And I have been there too. Because nobody is immune (at least not anyone I’ve met!).
The trouble is, this is no way to run a business.
For just a moment, imagine yourself working at a job for a large company. Now imagine that everyday you went into work and farted around at your desk all day long because you couldn’t decide what to focus on or whether you were working on the right project or not. Pretend that you spent your days jumping from idea to idea, rarely executing because you were worried that you’d pick the wrong thing and it wouldn’t work out. Imagine that you never actually moved the needle forward on the projects that were important to the company you worked for, because you saw somebody else at another company succeed at the same strategy.
We both know what would happen after a few weeks of this.
And yet, we’ve let it be ok inside our own businesses. Because it’s just ‘us’. Because we aren’t reporting to anyone. Because we can. Because nobody’s really paying attention anyway. Because we don’t feel like having a plan. Because we don’t want to be confined to a set of rules. Because…because…because.
It’s time to get clear.
Start by getting really honest about what’s most important for your business, right now.
- If you’re struggling to keep afloat and desperately need clients, the ‘paralyzing’ choice of whether you should be using Facebook or Pinterest is not an important choice right now. You need to be out talking to as many people as you can, asking for referrals and having strategic sales conversations. Pinterest can wait. So can Facebook.
- If you’re maxed out and burning the candle at both ends, or stuck doing a slew of busy-work instead of your genius work, then the choice about whether you should create a new product or repackage your services is probably not mission critical. Systems are. Building a team is.
- If you’re just getting your business off the ground, then the agonizing choice over how often to blog/podcast/email/send a newsletter etc shouldn’t get in the way of you actually putting your message out there to test and get feedback on. Start talking to people. The format doesn’t really matter.
You get the point.
Clarity comes when you stop chasing squirrels and breathe in the quiet long enough to really look at what’s most needed, right now in your business.
And then you make the choice to choose THAT thing – and put it into action.
Yes, it needs to be anchored to a longer term vision and a strategic plan, but if it’s been way too long since you felt clear, this is where you start. It won’t feel perfect and you may still have doubts.
Once you have that thing – whether it’s five more clients, writing the book, launching a joint venture project, expanding your market reach, or something else – then you start saying no to anything that doesn’t serve that goal.
And believe or not, that’s when things start to get easier. Because by choosing, you actually start to remove all the other choices. And that’s where freedom actually lives. As Barry Schwartz, author of, The Paradox of Choice says:
“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”
Make business easier.
Make one clear choice today based on what’s most important, and give yourself permission to let go of the rest. You can always choose them later.
And then enjoy the clarity that follows.
P.S. If you’ve been struggling with clarity and focus for too long, I’ve got good news. I’ll be opening up the doors to My PRO Plan very soon. Want to get on the early notification list? Sign up here.