I distinctly remember the day I made my first sale through an online business.
As I sat there compulsively refreshing the screen, there was a sense of power in realizing that I had accomplished my goal.
After years of listening to podcasts, reading books, and taking online courses, I had finally created something real. I felt a spark of hope. This would be the beginning of a significant change in my life.
And I never would have arrived at that day without making one critical decision.
Procrasti-learning is real, and it can destroy you
Have you ever decided to learn a language, start a new hobby, or get in shape? We all have.
If you are like most people, the first thing you will do is run out and buy books, gear or instructional programs. And we know how that turns out.
There are more than enough unused Rosetta Stone programs, dusty rowing machines, and scrapbooking supplies cluttering up closets.
You need more than a credit card to reach your goals. You also need more than knowledge.
Books and courses are great tools. They can help you tremendously when you start your own business, but only to a point.
Sure, your intentions are good. You want to make sure you have all your ducks in a row and that you’ve thoroughly looked before you leap.
You can pat yourself on the back for spending a few hours on the weekend reading up on things you might need to know, but delay taking any real action.
You’re convinced that you just need to know how to do one more thing …
Here’s the thing: there is always more to learn.
There has to be an expiry date on your research phase, or it will never end. And that means your business will never start.
We become our own worst enemies.
One of the ways our brains avoid doing something risky, such as starting a business, is by doing it half way.
I’m all for being cautious when you start out, by extending your runway or starting out as a side hustle. Not as a procrastination tool, but to increase your chances of succeeding.
You need to become aware of your reasons. Because endlessly consuming information about something instead of taking action is a terrible symptom of fear.
Fear of failure, fear of success, and fear of fear itself. Whatever psychological barriers are holding you back, need to be faced. Don’t let them stop you from putting your work out into the world.
Fear disguises itself as endless education and is fed through constant inaction.
The real work is always down the road, after you feel you’ve learned enough to nail it.
If you don’t know enough to start, you only need to learn enough to take the first step. Don’t worry — there will be plenty of opportunities to learn as you go.
One thing you can count on is that success will not come in a smooth, straight line. You are going to need flexibility, which brings us to another reason that learning too much can stall your progress.
Why trying to read the future is hard
In 2009, Mike started Loud Rumour by building websites for companies in Scottsdale, Arizona, without intending to specialize.
He spent years learning what worked for his clients by trying and testing things.
Five years later, he stumbled on a successful way to generate leads and get new clients for fitness studios.
To build on this success, Mike went all-in with Loud Rumour. They are now a marketing agency specifically designed to help fitness studios get more clients.
If he had planned the exact niche he was going to pursue at the beginning, he wouldn’t have had the flexibility to go all-in when he saw a great opportunity.
In fact, this has been the case with almost everyone I’ve interviewed on Hack the Entrepreneur. They followed unexpected paths to arrive at success.
They didn’t know exactly where they were going when they started. Regardless of the knowledge they had at the beginning, they learned the most important lessons along the way.
How to turn information into knowledge
Information can be useless. Unless you have a photographic memory, most of the historical dates and math formulas crammed into your head during school, have been forgotten.
If information is not relevant or useful to you now or in the near future, chances are your brain will file it in the trash can and promptly delete it.
You’ll have to learn it all over again when you are finally ready to use it.
When I started my podcast, the number of things I had to learn how to do was daunting. I had to get my head around all the big concepts and small technical steps involved in formatting, branding, finding guests, recording, and marketing.
Stop, breathe, and work backward.
Before I had to know the technical steps to publish new episodes, I knew I had to learn how to record the audio and make it sound good.
Before I had to make it sound good, I had to know what format I would use, how I would brand it, and what I would call it.
Instead of trying to learn everything before I did any real work, I decided to take it one step at a time. By researching each process just before I went through it, I was able to complete each task with confidence and move forward.
Instead of unnecessary information floating in the void, you can create hard-wired skills and actionable knowledge if you implement what you learn as soon as you learn it.
Now that you know how to make sure the knowledge you gain stays with you, it’s important to avoid the common trap called option fatigue.
Beat decision fatigue once and for all
If you’ve ever decided to do nothing because you simply can’t decide what to do, you’re not alone. Research has shown that too many choices and too much detail lead to decision fatigue, a state of overwhelm that causes poor decision making.
The outcome is worse when there are too many choices to consider.
The number of available products and services that can help you set up or grow your business is staggering. New options appear every day, and it is absurd to try and keep up with all them.
Don’t let yourself become paralyzed by indecision because there are too many choices in front of you.
Instead, limit yourself to a few options, do your due diligence, and choose. Give yourself deadlines for each step of the process.
Tell yourself, “I’ll spend one hour looking for a freelancer to do this design work, then choose.”
Just in time learning means taking action
When I decided to start learning just in time, I was finally able to beat procrastination. I stopped listening to podcasts, reading blogs, and taking courses. Essentially, I went on an information diet.
I realized that I would never feel like I knew enough, no matter how much information I consumed and that I no longer wanted to put off starting my business.
By only learning what I needed to know right before each step in the process, I was finally able to build my first online business.
Get momentum by doing, not learning
The concept of learning just in time will get you past the massive struggle to get started. Once you start, it will keep you moving forward.
Figure out the specific thing you need to learn to take the next step. Learn it. Do it. Don’t keep learning about other stuff without acting on what you just learned.
Take a step, then learn about the next one.
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