Focusing the entrepreneurial brain

There are as many different “types” of entrepreneurs as there are businesses, but there are some common traits I see that many of us share.

We don’t mind hard work, we like to start things more than we want to finish things, and we have a nose for opportunity. These three traits are a cocktail for distraction!

When the excitement of an opportunity has turned into the drudgery of slogging through the solution, it’s easy for us to daydream about the next “opportunity.” And we will find it whether that is looking for a new project, inventing a new service, or fixing some annoying glitch in our billing system. Answering the siren call of new, exciting things to save us from finishing boring tasks is something that most business owners do (even if they don’t realize it).

75% done = no value created

The first thing to notice is that you only create value when you finish a project!

If you look around you and see a bunch of projects that are somewhere between 50% and 90% complete what you are looking at is an incredibly large pile of sunk costs that have produced no value to you or your clients. Steve Jobs famously said; “Real artists ship.” So if you want to get paid, you have to learn to finish.

Further, you have to track and report status on all those partially finished things; having them unfinished is taking time away from finishing them and getting on to something new and glorious. 

So you have to get them done or abandon them.

You can quit

You don’t need to finish every project; some should be abandoned or deferred. Quitting is the second best option. (Finishing them is the best option, in case you missed that.) Are there some things you need to stop doing? Are there some things that need to go into a parking lot for you to pick up later (after you’ve got some higher priority things done)? 

It’s OK to do that, go into your to-do list right now and delete or defer anything that’s not a current TOP priority. Tell people you aren’t getting stuff to them. Be done with it!

You can get help

If finishing is hard for you then having a team (of some kind) is paramount. You need someone who will finish all the things you’ve started. 

Did you know some people love to finish things? Best of all, they usually aren’t costly! In the old days we called them administrators, and their job was to finish the things executives were bad at finishing. 

Look through your list of open projects. Who could you hire to finish these things off? What is the part that only you can do? Do that part and get help with the rest. 

For example, with my podcast, Jill and I get together to record it once a month. Then we have a team who edits it, makes show notes, posts them on the website, notifies the guest that it’s up, promotes it on social media… We do about 20% of the work — the team does the rest!

If it has to be you

If you are the only one who can finish it, then you have to use all the distraction avoidance techniques you can.

Block time and dedicated it to finishing the thing. Turn off notifications, turn off your phone, go somewhere without people to interrupt you, promise yourself a “treat” when you finish. Do all the things that make it possible to finish one thing this week. Then next week pick another project and finish that. The more effort you can put behind fewer goals the more likely you are to complete any of them. 

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