If you’ve ever faced a daunting task, you know what it’s like to do “productive procrastination.”
At its worst, you find yourself making lists and doing laundry to avoid diving in. But in its more veiled form, you’ll be planning; perfecting a business plan, defining your market, building up your online presence, and promising yourself that once you’re ready, your next project will be a huge success.
Website platform Pantheon recently talked to successful digital agency owners who’ve become experts at stopping the planning process and kicking off new ventures and projects.
Here’s how they suggest avoiding the planning trap.
Planning Won’t Get You to the Perfect Answer
When you’re just starting a new endeavor, it’s easier to get going when you’re comfortable being wrong. Have a strategy, yes. A detailed plan, sure. But know that some of the most successful moves you’ll make will be a product of learning as you go.
If it’s a new company or product line, for example, defining your target audience will be important—but the first-laid plans will likely get thrown out as soon as you find some traction. Even incredible success stories such as PayPal had to change direction several times from the original plan.
When the time comes to make a change, embrace it. When you leave room to adapt, you’ll be more focused on the outcome rather than all that planning.
There Are Plenty of Talented People to Help
Even as an expert in your field, there will be plenty of limits on what you can do on your own. But rather than wait to master a new skill, get certified, or make a new hire, you can partner up with others to tackle your big project.
Work with someone on a contract basis—or just ask for help. While most people won’t work for free, people with expertise in the area you need will likely be happy to at least share their wisdom over coffee or a phone call.
It’s Not Bad to Be the Underdog
As someone tackling a project for the first time, or a small company competing against industry giants, you may wonder how to come out ahead. But use your differences to your advantage—find an edge in your talent, enthusiasm, and agility instead of your size or experience.
Take Mozilla, a fledgling nonprofit founded by a few employees of Netscape that—at one point—topped out at more than 30 percent market share against the behemoth Internet Explorer.
Even if you’re not launching a company, you can embrace being the underdog and thrive on doing things differently.
Use the Arsenal of Technology Available
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by what’s ahead, find tools to get organized and streamlined.
Often you can automate some of the repetitive tasks that slow you down, or outsource work that takes you longer than it’s worth.
Take note of the least productive work you do, and find out how to stop doing them yourself. Knowing your optimal workflow and toolset can make you more efficient at hitting your goals.
You Will Figure it Out
While you might not feel 100 percent ready, it’s probably time to jump into that next big venture.
As you do, remember that confidence—both in yourself and the support of those around you—goes a long way in navigating uncertainty.
You’ll make mistakes, learn quickly, adapt, and come out far more equipped than when you started.