Stop Saying You Don’t Have Time to Start a Business
Once you’ve made the decision to start a business — or even if you’re still deciding — it’s all too easy to find yourself making excuses that now isn’t the right time because you’re “too busy” or you have to do “this thing” or “that thing” first. Before you know it, things can start to feel overwhelming. Self-doubt creeps in. You start worrying that maybe you won’t be able to do things perfectly/exactly right.
Before you know it, a week, a month, a year has gone by.
If that’s you, then you’re experiencing the downside of inertia — an object at rest tends to stay at rest. In this case, the object is you.
Inertia has an upside.
But inertia works two ways — just as an object at rest tends to stay at rest, an object in motion tends to stay in motion.
So here’s the thing… you just have to begin. Even baby steps will turn things around. We call that momentum, and that’s where everything becomes possible. If you can do that, you change the game.
And if you’re feeling like you have don’t have time, let me put your mind at ease right now: All you need is 15 minutes a day.
Want to know how to get started? Here’s my 5-step strategy.
1. Make a manageable to-do list.
There are a lot of moving parts you need to manage when starting a business, and if you don’t approach them the right way you’re going to get overwhelmed.
There are two keys to making a manageable to-do list. The first is to break down huge overwhelming tasks into manageable, bite-size chunks. In other words, be specific. Don’t write down something big (and general) like “Financial projections.” Instead, make it specific, like “Call ABC Insurance to get a quote for liability insurance.” When you write down your to-do items, make them as concrete as you would if you were instructing an employee to do a single, specific task.
The second key is to only list your “next action” (if you’ve read David Allen’s Getting Things Done, you’ve heard of this). No matter how many steps are involved in a project, the only one that matters is the task you have to do next. When you write your to-do list, just include the next action for whatever it is you’re working on, like “Look up the phone number for ABC Insurance.” When that’s done, replace it with the “next” next action, like calling them!
2. Commit to 15 minutes a day.
Fifteen minutes a day may not seem like a lot of time to get something meaningful done, but you’ll be surprised at how effective it will be at creating and sustaining momentum.
If you’ve broken down your to-do list into small enough tasks, you’ll find that a lot of them don’t take as long as you’d think. Sometimes you can get 4 or 5 things done in those 15 minutes, and other times you’ll only get halfway through one of them. Either way, you’re making progress because you’re always moving forward.
As you keep showing up for those 15-minute sessions, crossing things off your list, you’ll reinforce that your habit is paying off. That’s going to motivate you to keep going. And there’s no law that says you can ONLY spend 15 minutes. A lot of times you’ll probably get on a roll.
3. Set up a “no-interruption zone.”
Starting a business requires a basic level of boundary setting — but only the same level that you’d enforce if you were on an important phone call.
You wouldn’t let yourself be distracted by email or drift off in the middle to do something else if you were on the phone with a client, and the same goes for the time you’re setting aside to work on your business.
During your 15-minute-a-day sessions, turn off everything that could distract you, and let anyone who might interrupt you know that you’re off-limits for that slice of time. You’ll get so much more done if you have a single, uninterrupted block of time to focus.
4. Find an accountability partner.
The ideal accountability partner will help keep you motivated, focused and on track. Even though they can empathize, they won’t let you off the hook or weasel out of things — which is critical in the early stages of any new venture.
Accountability partners are easiest to acquire on a professional basis. Most of my clients who hire me as a business advisor also use me as an accountability partner and sounding board. As someone who’s supportive, yet firm, I’m someone who they can share their goals with and ask questions of — without that uncomfortable squishiness that often comes with other types of relationships.
You can also pull in a friend or family member to keep you accountable. That often works best when it’s a two-way exchange. For example, they keep you accountable on your business goals, you keep them accountable on their weight loss goals, that kind of thing. That equalizes the relationship and makes it easier to hold each other to commitments.
If you know someone who’s a good fit for that, talk to them about it to see if there might be a scenario where it makes sense. If you don’t, then consider hiring someone. And don’t let your ego get in the way, either — CEOs and millionaires have accountability partners, too. (That’s often a secret of their success.)
5. Periodically work for a larger chunk of time.
While you can get a surprising amount of work done in those 15-minute slices of time, it’s always a good idea to also set aside a larger chunk of time every once in a while.
Letting yourself spend some extra time — maybe an hour, maybe two — will give you a chance to step back and think about the big picture, mull over important decisions and approach tasks that benefit from getting a longer stretch of attention.
It’s also a good way to get into “the zone” and let yourself get absorbed in what you’re doing long enough to enter a flow state. You’ve experienced this before — when you’re so absorbed in something that you lose all sense of time while accessing the best, most creative parts of your brain and get a surprising amount of work done.
Afterwards, you can go right back to your 15-minute sessions and cross off a whole new batch of items from your to-do list.
When you use your time well, the payoff is huge.
Ultimately, the way to move your business forward is to stop thinking about time, and start thinking about tasks. Break each business-starting component into pieces, get clear and granular about what you have to do, and just start doing it.
Once you get into the swing of it you’ll automatically start shifting away from thinking about time as a limited resource. You’ll see how much you’re getting done — and how you can do it in tiny bursts of action — and you’ll be actively building your business instead of saying you have no time.
(P.S. – And if you want that accountability partner — or just a voice of experience to help you get your idea off the ground — you can get in touch today.)
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