There are a lot of things in life that are one way or another – with no real middle ground. Your dog can no more be “sort of” housebroken, then a woman can be “sort of” pregnant. Either he goes inside or he doesn’t – she is or she ain’t.
Earlier this week I talked about using a Nest Test as a trial run for your new home business. A test can be crucial to the success of a home-based startup. Not only do you get the opportunity to ease into it, you can get some early feedback on what works and what doesn’t. The problem comes when people continue to linger in the in-between stage where they consider themselves “sort of” in business. When they talk about it, they may talk about their day job, and then mention “this other thing” in passing. The apprehension over making the full leap creates a home-business purgatory, where you’re working, but not really thriving.
When it comes to your home business, there comes a time when you need to get serious. Pee or get off the proverbial pot (and for those who’ve been through potty training, HOPE that it’s done in that order, not the other way around).
So, are you in business or not? There are two main reasons that hold most people back from making a full commitment – fear and perfectionism. Let’s take a look at each and what you can do about them.
Fear – Just Look at Your Toes
Fear is a stupid thing. Really. Fear is designed to protect us against saber-tooth tigers, even though they’ve been extinct for thousands of years. Our fear-based lizard brain, that’s tucked inside our new-fangled mammalian brain, gets all the inputs first. And like most two-year olds, its first response is, NO!
By the time our rational, logic-based, and creative selves are able to think about something new, it’s been poo-pooed by Lizard-Boy (or Lizard-Girl). Change is seen as a threat, and it’s not good to threaten the lizard mind.
So what do you do about it? You look at your toes. Okay that might not make any sense to you if you never had diving lessons as an 8-year old in the late seventies. It describes a somewhat sadistic, yet quite effective technique to get a kid to dive off a board suspended 200 feet (this may be exaggerating, but is as I remember it) above the water. No kid is his right mind would just walk to the edge and trust a very large and scary woman not to push him off. So instead, the deal was that I’d just go to the edge and look at my toes. That’s it. So it did. And she pushed me off.
Now you’re not going to hear a lot of bellyaching about child trauma, because it worked. The next time, I went up and dived – and again, and again, and again. That small seemingly safe task of looking at my toes was enough to trick my lizard brain into overcoming the threat. Then my rational brain took over, and I kept on diving.
The lesson here (there is one, I promise) is that you can overcome fear by taking small, seemingly safe steps to trick the fearful brain. One of my favorite books on the subject is One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way. It explores how to use the Japanese concept of kaizen to make small changes to create lasting change.
You can use this approach as a way to help overcome the fear of committing to your business. For the next few weeks, expand your business actions a little at a time. Take small steps to make it ready to go full time. Then when you’ve proven to your fearful brain that you have what it takes to succeed, and are doing the work you were born to do, you have gained the confidence to dive in and REALLY be in business.
Perfectionism – Polished or Perfect
This one can be even a bigger pain, because it seems pretty rational. You can’t launch a business if it’s not perfect, right? You only get one chance to make a first impression, and the marketplace will judge you by your first outing. In a way, that’s true. But I have to tell you, it’s never going to be perfect. I know, I’ve tried.
Paraphrased from a comment I made yesterday, sometimes you just have to launch the thing. Like a piece of art, some things may never be “finished.” We may have to just go with polished. The important thing to remember is that polished doesn’t have to mean perfect. (Hat tip to Easton).
If you keep waiting for the time to be right, your marketing copy to be flawless, your Website to be pixel perfect, your eyebrows to grow back, or whatever else you think you need, it will never come. Get to polished, not perfect. Get to professional, not perfection. Get to refined, not ready. Then just launch the damn thing.
So, are you in business or not? At some point there comes a time when you need to make that final decision. You know in your heart whether it’s right. The best time to take the plunge is now. There’s no absolute safe time or perfect time to do it. But there is today. And it’s as good as any other time, don’t you think?