Overthinking is a nasty habit almost all starting entrepreneurs struggle with. It’s not surprising, actually. Of course, you’d expect anxiety to shoot up when you’re a newbie dabbling onto uncharted territory. You play every possibility and prepare for each outcome so you can bolster your chances of achieving success.
But then again, you’re not getting any closer to that success, precisely because there’s so much going on inside your head, holding you back from doing something, anything. Analysis paralysis. Here are strategies to break the cycle of overthinking and finally get things done:
1. Adjust your focus
In the mind of an overthinker-entrepreneur, the negative outweighs the positive. Out of the hundreds of things that could go right, you think of the thousands of things that would go wrong. It’s important to acknowledge problems, yes. But don’t stop there. Pin down the ways you can tackle the problems.
In short, focus on the solutions. So, for instance, you want to try your hand at the food service industry, but you have no experience, no big capital to shell out to compete with giant restaurants, one approach you could do is explore fast casual franchises.
You’ll be able to take advantage of the training from the parent company — a solution to your no-experience dilemma, at the same time, the low starting costs — a solution to your no-big-capital problem. Another way you can develop the habit of adjusting your focus is to celebrate your mini victories.
Drafted the business plan? Celebrate. Did you hire your first employee? Celebrate. When you fix your eyes on what you’ve accomplished so far, you’ll be able to counter those negative thoughts easily.
2. Aim for flexibility, not perfection
Starting entrepreneurs tend to look for the perfect elements in their business: perfect plan, product, structure, etc. Committing to excellence to that degree is a good way of approaching business. But you also have to embrace the fact that you can’t do everything right at the start phase of your business.
There will always be shortcomings, unintended results. In fact, that’s the very reason businesses grow. There’s always room for improvement. There’s always something to troubleshoot and tweak, and therefore something new to offer. This doesn’t mean producing half-baked plans or products, though.
This just means that perfection shouldn’t be your primary goal, but rather the potential. The flexibility. Most business mentors today advocate ‘lean planning,’ the process of outlining the overall strategy for a business idea, testing the plan out, and then revisiting and improving it every now and then as one learns about the market and the industry. So the business plan isn’t just a one-time event. It’s a continuous process. Flexibility over perfection.
3. Adopt a new perspective on failure
At its core, people overthink because they fear to fail. And if there’s anything people know about failure, it’s that it’s never a good thing. It’s costly. It’s uncomfortable. Hitting rock bottom is depressing. But if you think about it, it’s also liberating.
It frees you from the pressures of people around you, giving you a clean slate. At the same time, it releases you from the anxiety of whether your idea will work or not because you know a lot now than ever before. Ironically, it’s a path toward success, too. So embrace failure. Welcome its possibility, despite gripping anxiety. Befriend your greatest fear.
Starting entrepreneurs can’t be overthinkers. Otherwise, you’ll end up being a ‘wantrepreneur,’ never making the dream a reality. Break the cycle of overthinking today.