Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You Know It. Do It.

Do you ever catch yourself in this kind of desperate pursuit of information, feeling as if you can only move forward when you learn enough?

Sometimes, my fellow entrepreneurs, this is a trap. "Enough" information is an illusion.

I'm a vocal advocate of life-long learning and believe that there is always room to educate ourselves and improve ourselves, our careers, our skills.

And yet, there have been times over the last few years of starting my own businesses when I've caught myself saying aloud, "I don't know what to do next," or "my business would be more successful if only I knew how to _________ (fill in the blank: market online better, improve my site's search engine rankings, tell my story better, tap into the power of social media)."

Gripped by indecision, I've spent weeks, or even months, researching, reading books, attending workshops and conferences, taking experts to lunch and digesting dozens of electronic newsletters and articles online only to discover through all my questioning that I already knew most of the answers.

I began to realize that I wasn't going to find earth-shattering advice or sure-thing strategies that would guarantee success in my endeavor; what I was reading and learning were things I already knew. And that's when I realized that I wasn't really looking for answers. I was looking for safety.

It was my doubt and lack of confidence causing my indecision, not my lack of knowledge.

Sure enough, when I imposed on myself a moratorium on more learning and challenged myself to doggedly move forward in doing the work, my businesses started to flourish.

If indecision has you stopped in your tracks, there won't be "enough" information to move you forward. You have to find the courage to implement and act on what you already know.

Recently on LinkedIn, Andrea Stenberg of The Baby Boomer Entrepreneur posed a question to business owners, asking: "How do you know when you need to keep learning and when you need to stop and implement what you know?"

Andrea chose my answer as the best response to her question, and here's what I wrote:
If you have to ask, it's time to implement!

When I was first launching my businesses, I took course after course, read book after book, devoured newsletter after newsletter. At some point, I became aware that I already knew much of what I was consuming; it wasn't knowledge I was seeking, but confidence.

Sometimes, we choose to pursue information to try to protect ourselves from making mistakes. If that's your motivation for spending money on courses instead of marketing campaigns, STOP!

Being a small business owner requires risk-taking and "mistake-making." So go out and make the mistakes. There's more than one way to learn!

Following that Q&A, Andrea wrote a great article on her website (that includes a quote from my response, how cool!), including five steps to break your dependence on outside information and to start making things happen.

Are you an information junkie? Read Andrea's challenge to "Get Off the Information Merry-go-Round and Start Implementing What You Know."

Then stop reading, and start doing.

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