“Perfectionism kills every dream – better to just start.”
– Mike Michalowicz, “Profit First”
Lesson 1: Just do it
The quote above is not particularly revolutionary. I’ve heard something along those lines for much of my life…
“Perfect is the enemy of the good”
“The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement”
“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content”
“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week”
Many minds greater than mine, in this case Voltaire, George Will, Leo Tolstoy, and George Patton, have realized that perfection is unattainable and often counterproductive. I’ve never been much of a perfectionist, quite the opposite, but I do get trapped in analysis paralysis a lot.
I spend days planning and planning and planning. I have literally dozens of spreadsheets that map out financial goals, fitness routines, nutrition plans, and pretty much every other part of my life but very, very rarely do I execute the plans. There always seems to be one more thing I can tinker with or today just isn’t a good time to start… maybe tomorrow.
Basically, I suck at execution.
But, in the last couple of weeks I have blown through my reluctance and made some positive steps in my life, specifically starting my own business. I wish I would have done it earlier but I never really felt ready. This time around I still didn’t feel ready but thanks to the encouragement of my partner, my friends, my supervisor, and my therapist, I took the plunge. I bunkered down and filled out paperwork, paid a bunch of fees, and scheduled an appointment to see a CPA. And, strangely, after completing all that stuff I found myself feeling much more ready than before. Nothing substantial had changed except I had committed myself in a way that I never had before.
I think there are a couple of reasons why I feel more ready and motivated. First off, there is some momentum going. I’ve done “something” and I am encouraged to prevent that effort from going to waste. Second, I have some financial skin in the game. I’ve paid fees and committed to a system that requires a certain level of effort. Third, I have some accountability through my first hire (CPA) and the general Facebook public who I blab to about everything in my life. Lastly, creating a business has made me feel like I am not quite faking it anymore. It is what Steven Pressfield calls “Turning Pro”.
After all that effort I feel more motivated than I have in a long time. My actual job and income source hasn’t changed but I find myself wanting to work harder and learn more for that firm. I think this is the difference between feeling like an employee and feeling like an owner. I don’t think I was a lazy employee, but I think the incentives for employees do not align with those of owners. I had a disconnect from the vision and a lack of authority. If I spent more time learning new skills, researching more about my field, and expanding the customer base then there was not necessarily a direct link between that and a greater payoff for me.
As an owner, the incentives are quite different. My job is exactly the same, but if I expand my knowledge base, meet new clients, and become an expert than Neiger Consulting LLC can directly benefit. Maybe this means I get jobs outside of my current client or maybe I’m in a better place to petition my current client to try new things. That second point is mostly a psychological difference but mindset matters.
Being an employee and being an owners is the difference between reactive incentives and proactive incentives. It is the difference between feeling like you should just do what you are told and feeling like you should do what is in your (and the organizations) best interest. Ownership gives a feeling of authority that being an employee doesn’t.
I am lucky in that the organization that I’ve been working for for the last few years has been more flexible and open to change than I’ve ever had. they have encouraged me to expand my skill set and be creative, but I had a mental block that stopped me from really fully committing to that. That block is gone now. By becoming an owner of my own business not only am I going to benefit, but so is the organization that I work with. I will become more skilled, more motivated, and our incentives are now aligned because we both have a profit-motive that runs parallel to each other. What is good for me is good for them.
So, after all this I have one piece of simple (but difficult) advice to anyone who wants to start a business: just do it.
If you have time to read my blog then you have time to register as an LLC in your state, get an EIN, and get the process moving.
You don’t need a single sale or a single dollar in profit to get started. In fact, it might be better if you haven’t made any money as a 1099 or under the table yet because you won’t be locked in to bad habits or a production system that primarily suites others. Don’t wait to prove the concept, just get things started.
Want to be an author but have never written a word? Go register Phoenix Publishing LLC, pay the fees, inform the IRS, call a CPA, read “Profit First”, and feel the motivation to start writing.
Want to design t-shirts or become a graphic designer or professional dog-walker or a beer brewer? Do it now. Take steps. Action breeds action. Commitment leads to creativity.
No, seriously. Whatever your business idea you should get the ball rolling. Today. You may be sitting on your computer naked drinking a cup of coffee (or maybe on your work computer dicking around… probably not naked) but you obviously have access to everything you need to stop being an employee and start being an owner, of both your employment and your life.
Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a Snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?
Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions: pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”