How to Stop Paralysis by Analysis in Your Business
Before you can even suck down your first cup of coffee in the morning, you’ve already made more decisions than you can keep up with. Even basic decisions like what to wear involve glancing at a calendar to see what appointments and events you have booked.
It can be overwhelming and can actually paralyze your business when you can’t get through them fast enough. I’m going to share some of my best tips that help me get through my days while keeping my sanity and growing my business.
Paralysis by Analysis - the Definition
First - what am I talking about? Paralysis by Analysis is the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome.
One of the most common times I see paralysis by analysis hurt businesses is when it comes to their print marketing before events.
If you’ve ever had a booth at an expo, or been a guest speaker at an event, you likely needed to get print materials like business cards, brochures, banners, etc. Those types of items have a lead time associated with them - meaning that the designer and printer need time to create them and print them before you can have them. This can be anywhere from a few days to several weeks depending on what you need and how many copies you need.
If you spend too much time tweaking the design and over-analyzing trying it get it perfect, you end up having to either pay outrageous shipping fees, or possibly not even getting your items at all because it’s impossible to get them to you before the event. When that happens, you’ve wasted money on the design and wasted your time working with the designer/printer with nothing to show for your efforts.
The Path to Rehabilitation for Chronic Overthinkers
First, you have to realize you have a problem… sort of…
Because our company focuses on helping business owners make smart marketing decisions as well as implementing the final choices for them, I have a front-row seat to all kinds of business decision-making personalities. I’m with them from their initial encounter with a decision they have to make all the way through to the final outcome of it. Which one do you think you are?
You might accept feedback if you feel like the person providing it is qualified to some capacity and understands the situation and requirements, but you don’t trust anyone else to make the right decision most of the time. Because of this, you’re very involved in every decision that needs made for your business.
You typically find yourself not getting around to things you’d like to do because you don’t have time to put into researching them and doing them right. You know you should do them, but if you’re going to do something, it’s worth doing it right the first time, and there’s just not enough of you to go around!
You have a TON of decisions to make and not enough time in the day to make them, so you put things off for later. You have a lot of ideas for things that can help your business grow - like updates to your website, or setting up your Facebook page. But things never seem to make it past that idea stage.
You are still getting new business from word-of-mouth, you are still growing, your customers all seem happy. If it’s not broken, then why fix it?! You know times are changing, but you’re fine for now and can look at it more later when you get caught up and have time.
You have a lot to do, and no time to do it all. You don’t like your to-do list getting longer, and you know you can’t move forward without getting things done, so you rush through things.
You know you’re not always making the best decision, but no decision is worse, so you make up your mind quickly and deal with the consequences if you have to. Your to-do list is always pretty short, but you don’t always like the results of your decisions.
This is my typical style if I’m not following my own advice 🙂 You have a lot to do, hate making rushed decisions, don’t like your list getting longer, but also don’t trust anyone to help you check things off. Basically you’re a blend of the good and bad of all of the above.
Every time you try to trust someone to help you get things done and make decisions it seems like something goes wrong. But if you don’t get help, then you end up letting things fall through the cracks because there’s not enough of you to go around. So you rush some decisions and make compromises just so you can check them off, and you push others off until you can deal with them.
You live in a constant state of stress. You never have enough time to do anything. You get frustrated at the people around you for not helping enough and being as driven as you are and not understanding the big picture.
Fixing the Problem & Moving Forward
You can be addicted to your habits, and changing them can be hard. But like most addictions, it’s rewarding to overcome them. Your business will run better, and you will be happier.
Tip #1 : Prioritize & Conquer
Every choice you have to make is not created equal. No matter which decision personality you are, you can and should prioritize the decisions you have to make. By focusing on a few at a time, you can make better decisions quickly while still getting everything done.
Be sure to focus on making this a quick process. If your first thought when you read this was to get out a pen paper and list them out with a 1, 2, or 3 next to them then stop right now!
This process is a mental one and happens fast. You simply ask yourself a few key questions to determine if it’s worth your time.
- Deadline: Do you have to make this decision before a certain date/time?
- Consequences: What will happen if you miss that deadline? Or what will happen if you just don’t make this decision?
- Delegate: Can someone else make this decision for you? (Micromanagers, you will hate this step, but it’s crucial. Even if it’s just letting your spouse decide what you’re eating for dinner
- that night, or you ask your 3-year-old which shirt to wear today.)
- Iterative: Can you change it later if you make the wrong decision?
Most of your decisions will be time-driven. Those are easy.
Some have major consequences if they don’t happen while others are relatively minor. So you can put your focus to the ones that have the biggest impact first and work your way down.
Others can be delegated, which takes them off your list entirely and simplifies your life.
Tip #2 : Delegate
As your business grows, you will get better at this out of necessity, but while you’re growing, you feel like you have to do it all. Trying to do it all hurts your business in the long run.
Not only is there not enough of you to go around, but you’re not getting any input or ideas from anyone else.
By delegating, you not only free up your time and relieve stress from yourself, you also expand the intelligence behind your company.
Tip #3 : Stop Over-analyzing
Most of the decisions that you make aren’t life-ending or unchangeable. I see people all of the time that agonize over every little word on a brochure or business card. They will literally spend an hour telling me to tweak and change so many little things.
It can be true that a specific wording might work better for their audience than another one will, but you’re still guessing either way. And on top of that, you’re going to need more later. So you can always change it for the next run if the first wording doesn’t work well.
That’s just one example, but most of your decisions will be iterative like that. When you encounter these situations, focus on making a quick decision and not wasting too much time. Go with your gut, ask for professional advice, and move forward with a mental note to come back later and assess the outcome so you know if you need to adjust for next time.
Tip #4 : Outsource
There are a multitude of companies that specialize in various areas of running a business. You can outsource time-consuming areas of your business to these specialists and simplify your life.
These companies stay up-to-date in their respective fields. You can trust them to make smart decisions, and you can consult with them when you have questions. This means less decisions for you to make in a day, and a trusted resource for information on the decisions you do have to make.
Some common areas that are outsourced by small businesses include:
- Human Resources
- Office Cleaning
- Secretarial Services
- Marketing - like what we offer 🙂
There will be cost associated with these companies of course. However, your time is money, and if you can spend less of it fighting the operational mess behind keeping your doors open, then you can focus on bringing in new customers and keeping them happy so your business grows.
So look at where the biggest time-sucks in your daily operations are and consider if outsourcing will help you get more time back. Or can those professionals could do it significantly better than you can and provide additional value beyond just getting it done?
Growth = Change
If you want your business to grow, then you have to accept change. You’ll have more customers, a different quality of customers, new employees, and adaptive marketing strategies.
You are at the mercy of the market and your clients, and you have to be willing to change if you’re going to grow. So hopefully these tips will put you on the right track so you can get more done with less stress.
Did any of these tips help you?
Leave a comment below and let me know!
One of my first jobs was running a cash register in my grandmothers diner. My job was to talk to customers and and to keep everything in my area neat and organized. Now years later those lessons I learned help me in managing client files and projects. Making sure our team is working to help our clients reach their business goals is what drives me everyday.
I am a strong believer that to succeed in life you have to work hard and never let roadblocks stand in your way. You have to read and study but you also have to experience life and all that it can teach you.
My mission is to help clients and our team have the materials and knowledge they need to make every project a success, while making sure to spread some of the information I learn around for others to enjoy.
Please leave me a comment if you found any of my tips helpful.