How To Organize Your Thoughts To Succeed At Your Business

Many thanks to Dr.Mani Sivasubramanian for writing this for me.

Many years ago, Rich put out a free PDF report about the challenges of launching a new home based business. It was to be the seed of a business coaching program that would get thousands of novice entrepreneurs started and keep them going through the challenges of setting up an online business from scratch. What I remember most vividly from that report was the image on its cover. It had a puzzled, dazed little man at the center – and coming at him, from every direction, was a literal bombardment of instructions, suggestions and ideas to implement. The hapless entrepreneur looked shellshocked! The big idea behind that small report was that it’s confusing to juggle so many different aspects of even a modest home business – unless you have the right knowledge, the right guidance and the right kind of support. Nothing has changed substantially over the years in this regard. Even today, a novice who sets out to create an online business with a bright idea and stars in her eyes suddenly finds herself drowning in a deluge of information. * At first, she tries to consume it all and learn as quickly as possible – but that’s like trying to drink from a firehose! * So then, she takes the next logical approach – and ignores everything completely, trying to figure things out on her own. And we all know how that’s likely to end! * Finally, one of two things happens: a. she gets frustrated, throws up her hands in surrender, and gives up – or, b. she gets smart, creates a system to handle the info, and keeps growing Which kind of business owner would you like to be? Right! So let’s talk about the best way to get there.

Launching A New Business Is Like Being A Teenager Remember how it was at that age? There was so much happening. Such drama and excitement. Surging hormones and crazy ambition. Exciting activities and the thrill of freedom. Things you want to do, but can’t. Things you’d like to do, but shouldn’t. Launching a business is rather like that. A lot comes at you, often at a furious pace. Most of the time, you’re frankly confused and overwhelmed. Some of the things you’re exposed to are important, even critical to your venture. Other stuff isn’t. The trouble is that you don’t know which it is. And there seems no reliable way to find out quickly. What’s a gal to do? Well, don’t cry – but CRI. Check if each item that you are confronted with and asked to handle is: C – Credible R – Relevant I – Important

1. Is It Credible? This question has to do with the source of your information, data or advice. All kinds of people will offer you suggestions – if you ask for help. The trick is finding out how reliable and credible they are as advisors. So if a guy has been managing a business like yours for 7 years and offers a suggestion, you’re clearly going to value it higher than the other nice lady who just bought her first domain name last week – regardless of how confident, vocal or insistent she is. Verify your source. Always. Carefully. Sometimes, it may involve doing some background checks and online research into the individual or organization that shares the information. This takes time and effort, but look on it as an investment. If it turns out it’s a reliable, trustworthy and experienced source, then you can go back to it often for more advice and guidance. And if your inquiry reveals – as it often does – that the source is not very authoritative or experienced, you’ve just saved yourself a ton of trouble and pain by being misled!

2. Is It Relevant? After convincing yourself that the information comes from a reliable source, the next thing to assess is its relevance. If you’re getting started, and have just learned how to put up a name capture form on your website to build your opt-in email list, it may not be relevant right now to study a booklet or guide about how to save money on your autoresponder service when you cross 5,000 subscribers! Sure, that will be important – even vital – some months or years down the line when you’re close to that landmark. But for the moment, even though it is good information, it doesn’t quite matter to you – yet. Assess every bit of information for relevance. And be ruthless at weeding out whatever is not. If it seems like it could be important shortly, save the details inside a folder named “For Later” – and forget all about it for the present. Focus only on what matters now.

3. Is It Important? The final question to help you handle all the information on business building that is thrown at you is: “How important is it to me?” Some things like regulatory details, the way you structure your business, your web hosting and payment processing services, and legal notices, are critical. Get these things wrong, and you’ll suffer badly for your mistakes. Other things fall under the category of “nice to have” – which means you can either take it, or leave it. If you have/get/use them, things may run a bit more smoothly. If you don’t, it’s no big deal. Finally, there are things that don’t matter at all. They are unimportant. Ignore them. Learn to sort information by its importance. If this sounds very similar to the priority setting process with ‘to do’ lists, you’re right. It is almost exactly the same thing! When you assign a priority rank to each item on your list of ‘things to do’, it helps you manage time more effectively and get more done in a day. In the same way, setting priorities will help you comfortably tackle the instructions, guidelines, advice, suggestions and best practices that are offered to you with good intentions – but little concern for how overworked and time-starved you are. How Can You Tell? Your anguish is real. And it is justified. It’s practically impossible to tell if a particular source is credible, or if a specific item is relevant, or even if something is really important (or only seems that way). You’ll need some experience before you get good at sorting things out. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to learning it. And along the way, you will make a few mistakes. Some of them may be painful and/or costly. But don’t stress about it. You’ll quickly get better and develop an instinct for spotting what is credible, relevant, and important.

More important, you’ll learn to figure out what isn’t – which saves you precious time and energy to focus harder on the things you truly have to get right. * One way to ease the journey, avoid pitfalls and reduce your error rate is to find a trusted and experienced mentor or coach to guide you. * Another could be to join business associations and form your support networks of fellow entrepreneurs who can watch out for you, and steer you away from danger. * A third approach is to read business books and take courses. * A fourth is to observe other successful people in your industry, to see what they’re doing, and what they’re not.

However, don’t obsess over being perfect. ‘Analysis paralysis’ is a real thing. Many new entrepreneurs and business owners get mired in it and become bogged down. You shouldn’t. Keep moving ahead. Stay watchful. Learn constantly. But also accept that you will not (and CANNOT!) be on top of everything, all the time. Trying to do that will drive you nuts! Thankfully, not many things are so critical that a mistake will sink your business permanently. So don’t panic if you feel you’re drowning under a torrent of advice and instructions. Just grin and bear it – or CRI!

Thank you Dr Mani!