You have been mulling over a business idea for months. The more you think about it, the more faults you find with the idea. It will require too much money, your skills and experience are wanting, you need to research a little more… there are so many reasons why you haven’t actualised your idea yet.
This inability to make a decision is known as analysis paralysis. In business, analysis paralysis can prevent you from starting a business and making crucial business decisions. Ultimately, this can translate into prematurely giving up on viable business ideas or loss of potential business revenue.
Analysis paralysis is responsible for many project delays, seemingly endless project planning sessions, gathering of unnecessary data, and slow movement between production stages. According to Anne Bogel, the author of ‘Don’t Overthink It’, there are three main causes of analysis paralysis. They include intellectual curiosity, information overload and perfectionism.
Because businesses succeed by making decisions and getting things done, analysis paralysis has killed many businesses. Entrepreneurs can’t afford too much time analyzing anything that can easily turn into stalling. It is better to start executing an idea after weighing the factors that matter the most, and learning as you go.
With that in mind, here are some tips on how you can avoid falling into the trap of analysis paralysis:
Establish your desired outcome
Identify main variables you need to make a decision. The truth is no matter how much research you invest in, you will not know everything. Bear in mind that sometimes, managers have to make urgent, important decisions without sufficient information. By identifying your desired outcomes and a few important factors, you can make a decision and start working.
For example, if you’re thinking about exploring digital marketing, you can easily be overwhelmed by the number of options available. Should you open an online store, use Facebook, Instagram, or partner with local influencers to push your brand? You can make a quick decision based on your desired outcomes. For instance, setting up a website is great for long term strategy. But if you’re in the initial stages and have a lean budget, boosting your Facebook posts is a great place to start.
Set short term goals
One reason most people experience analysis paralysis is the sheer magnitude of their goals. While you should dream big, setting your goals too big can make them seem unachievable, which worsens your analysis paralysis.
To avoid this pitfall, break big goals into bite-size actionable steps you can work on every day, week, or month. For example, when writing a business plan, you don’t have to do the whole thing in one or two days. You can set one week for research, another week to write it, and another one for proofreading and editing. This way, your weekly goals won’t seem so overwhelming. With such a plan, you will be done with writing the business plan in three weeks instead of postponing the project indefinitely.
Remember to make room for error when setting your short-term and long-term goals. This diffuses the perfectionism that often causes analysis paralysis. Accept that you’re going to make mistakes along the way and give yourself the time you need to course-correct.
Consult your mentors
Alongside allowing yourself breathing room on your goals, make time to consult your mentors before making a big decision. Talking to someone else can clear up your thoughts, not to mention they might also give you great advice. This will increase your confidence in making certain decisions, curtailing analysis paralysis.
When consulting mentors and other people in your industry, be specific with your questions. For example, instead of “Hey, there’s this big idea I’m working on. What do you think about it?” ask “How does this specific aspect of this business work?” If you’re planning a business launch, try asking specific questions such as “What should I expect on the first day of the launch?” or “What are some pitfalls that I might encounter during the launch?” This will give you specific ideas to implement.
Don’t be afraid of failure
A common cause of analysis paralysis is fear of failure. When you have ideas in your head, it is easier to make excuses about not having enough time or information to work on them. With such excuses, you don’t view your inaction as failure…which is easier to accept.
When you actually try something and it doesn’t work, it can be a huge blow to your ego. But there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes. Even the most successful entrepreneurs have made decisions that didn’t produce desired results. The difference between successful entrepreneurs and those who give up is their attitude towards failure.
Successful entrepreneurs view failure as a good learning opportunity. When they encounter failure, they course-correct and continue working on their goals. With that attitude, the blow of failure is less earth-shattering.
Start working on your idea expecting the best outcomes, but not overlooking the possibility of failure. Do your best to ensure favorable outcomes but understand that whatever happens will be a lesson that leads to growth.
Delay only for good reasons
If you find yourself in a position where you can’t make a definite decision, it is okay to hold off a little…as long as you have a good reason.
A little more time might not hurt the overall outcome of your decision. To make sure that you don’t procrastinate forever, have a specific timeline for making a decision. Remember that with decisions, timing is everything.