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Ever experienced entrepreneur’s block?
It’s like writer’s block, except it involves your whole business. With entrepreneur’s block, you know that you need to make progress, but you can’t seem to figure out what your next step is.
So you end up doing nothing. Welcome to stucksville, population you.
Most of the time I find that this sort of block is rooted in fear and resistance. Business owners tend to find themselves in this quagmire when the next steps they need to take feel big or scary for some reason. Maybe you know that you need to build your list, but building your list requires putting yourself out there with guest posts or interviews, and that feels scary. Or maybe your next step has to do with launching a product, but you’re stuck in fear that no one will buy – so you never even take the first step of outlining the product.
What you need to force yourself out of this situation is action: take whatever you think is the next step forward to resolve your problem. Even if you don’t know what the full path is take the next step. Taking one step takes you one step away from stuck. Then you figure out the next step, and the path becomes clearer.
But this can be easier said than done, can’t it? I like to suggest the following baby steps to my stuck clients as a way to take action – when you don’t know what action to take.
1. Ask yourself: What COULD I do to move in the right direction?
Often if you ask open enough questions you get great answers from your brainy self, so it’s a great idea to sit down and make a list. You can give yourself a set number (like 50 or 100 things you could do – make it a little challenging) or a set period of time, like saying you’ll write for 10 minutes straight.
Give yourself a period of time to work it out but don’t allow it to become too long.
Once you have your list of things you could do, you can organize it a couple of ways. You could put the steps in logical order. For example, you can’t send out a newsletter or build until you set up an account with a company like MailChimp or Aweber, so setting up the account would logically come first.
You could also organize the list by the time needed to complete each task; then, if there’s something you can tackle in 5 or 10 minutes, do it and cross it off. That kind of immediate gratification of getting something done is very powerful.
If things still feel murky, move on to step 2…
2. Ask a trusted advisor who actually leads his or her life how you want to lead yours as to what the best next step could be.
We’ve all got our business heroes, coaches, or even mentors that we look up to and admire. These are the people who have been down this road before you, and so they’re likely to be able to give you good guiding advice.
If your Dad has led a very traditional life and doesn’t get your whole entrepreneurial lifestyle, he’s probably not a good person to ask for advice! Ask someone who understands where you want to go. If you have a coach or a mastermind group, this is a perfect opportunity to get some direction. If you have a business hero that you admire from afar (as in, someone you follow, but don’t have a personal relationship with) ask yourself, “What would _______ do?” Scour their blog posts and old newsletters to see if they’ve talked about your particular issue.
And if that doesn’t work, move to step 3…
3. Take action (ANY action).
In the end you have to do SOMETHING to find out what the next move is. If you are literally at a crossroads and can’t work out what to do, and no advisor/coach is making it any easier (What!?), then go ahead and do something because only by doing something can you get more information to know if you are on the right path.
This is actually usually my first course of action: I do first and worry if I have to adjust later. Do I make mistakes? Sure I do! But at least I’m making forward progress; mistakes are opportunities for learning, after all.
What about you?
Have you ever found yourself in stucksville?
What did you do to get yourself out?
Please share your experiences and suggestions in the comments below so that you can be the expert who helps someone out of their sticky stuckness!