7 Deadly Sins of Entrepreneurship, Part 2: Indecisiveness

“What should I do next?”  “What project should I focus on?” “What color should the font be on my blog?” We’ve all been there before – faced with decisions – some critical, many insignificant.

There are plenty of decisions in life that require deep analysis and thoughtful decision-making: Buying a home, choosing a college to attend, figuring out where to raise your kids, etc.

Running your own business is not unlike the aforementioned life-altering scenarios.  Certain decisions will make or break your business, so it’s important for all decisions to be based on solid logic and reasoning, with a little bit of your own gut and emotion mixed in.

Most of your day-to-day business decisions, however, are not critical.  If you make the wrong decision, you can adapt and correct your mistake.  In fact, bad decisions are often valuable because they give us solid information about what not to do in the future.

In most cases, I believe the only thing worse than a bad decision is no decision at all.

Analysis Paralysis

Being intelligent sometimes works to our disadvantage.  We want so badly to do everything perfectly that we sometimes fail to do anything at all.  I’m a big fan of eating, so I’ll run with a food analogy: analysis paralysis at an extreme is like having three options for dinner, not being able to choose what you’d prefer to eat, and dying of starvation.  Okay, that was a little too extreme…

There have been countless examples of individuals and businesses who work on a product and never release it because they aren’t able to perfect it.  These people forget that the amount of lost income by having no release or a significantly delayed release far outweighs the additional income gained by releasing a “perfect” product.  And guess what?  The supposed “perfect” product usually isn’t perfect anyway.

A good example with blogging and niche site creation

If you spend too much time in the planning stages, unable to make relatively quick decisions, you miss out on valuable time where your site can be exposed to the internet.  Don’t have an entire content plan yet?  Not accepted into a particular affiliate program yet?  Who cares –  Build the site, do what you can, and allow it to start becoming indexed and start aging.  No one is going to see your site yet anyway, so what are you so afraid of? If you’re not sure whether something will work, don’t dwell on it, just try it and tweak it as necessary.

How Do We Fight Indecisiveness?

It’s not easy.  When you’re in the moment of being unable to make a decision, you often need someone else to push you, or else you risk taking an absurd amount of time, which winds up being detrimental to your bottom line.  I think the only way to really prevent indecisiveness is to attack it on the front end – that is, have a few mechanisms in place that will help reduce the chance of you becoming indecisive further down the road.  Here are my tips:

1) Set deadlines

You should be doing this already with your major goals and “checkpoints,” but you should also do it for any key decisions.  Self-imposed deadlines aren’t always the easiest to stick to, but set them anyway.  Having a difficult time deciding which logo to use on your website? Make a note of your deadline (literally – write this on a sticky note and place it on your computer monitor where you always have it in sight).  Pick a reasonable amount of time (e.g. “until tomorrow morning”), and stick to it.

2) Always know the “next action”

Sometimes indecisiveness doesn’t come from analysis paralysis.  One of the most common questions I think many entrepreneurs face is “what should I do next?” You have so much going on, a lot of it is important, and it’s difficult to really prioritize each task.

You might create a to-do list each day (which I recommend, and often fail to do), but you’re probably taking the wrong approach.  Does this example below look familiar?

  1. Reply to e-mail
  2. Add backlinks to niche site #1
  3. Do research for niche site #2
  4. Write a blog post

The above example is certainly better than having no to-do list at all, but it doesn’t give you the best guidance.  Are you replying to ALL e-mail?  How many backlinks are you going to add?  What types of backlinks?  How much research are you doing for niche site #2? Are you researching keyword traffic? Competition? Everything?  What is your blog post going to be about?  Will you need to do research before writing the blog post?

My point is, you may have a framework for your day, but you don’t have specific actions that prevent you from asking “what should I do next?” Here’s a revised example of the above to-do list that helps reduce indecisiveness:

  1. Reply to/take action on/file away all inbox e-mail that is more than 3 days old.
  2. Add 10 social bookmarks to niche site #1.
  3. Write 2 backlink articles for niche site #1.
  4. Write 5 blog comments for backlinks to niche site #1.
  5. Determine 5 potential target keywords for niche site #2.
  6. Research traffic for 5 potential target keywords for niche site #2.
  7. Assess the competition of each keyword.
  8. Based on the results of the keyword research, determine possible domain availability for target keywords.
  9. Purchase a domain, if available. If not, repeat steps 5-8.
  10. Decide on topic/title for new blog post.
  11. Do necessary research for blog post.
  12. Write blog post.
  13. Plan tomorrow’s to-do/action list.

Yikes! This seems to be a lot more intense than before.  By doing this exercise, not only do you know what the next action is (and thereby don’t waste time trying to figure it out during the day), but you might realize that your plan is too ambitious.

Don’t you hate when you get to the end of the day and you’re scratching your head wondering why you couldn’t complete a simple, 4-item to-do list?  Break your list down into more detail, and reevaluate your plan for the day.  The above example might not be perfect, but you get the idea.

Having this plan of action in place will save you time by eliminating periods of indecisiveness.

3) Have someone to talk to

If you have a partner or partners in business, this usually isn’t an issue.  But if you don’t, have a few people you can rely on to bounce ideas off of.  These can be friends and family, or people you’ve never met before online (it’s not as sketchy as it sounds!).  There’s a good chance you know people within some kind of online community or people who you frequently converse with in a blog’s comment space that you can reach out to for a quick discussion online (AIM/G-Chat/Skype are all great for this).

Having people to talk to about a particular decision will often keep you from being too indecisive.

4) Picture the worst case scenario

This is one of my favorites.  When I’m faced with a decision that I can’t figure out, I simply ask myself “what’s the worst that could happen if I make the wrong decision?” Take your mind down that road and you’ll realize that the worst case scenario may not be so bad.  This will give you comfort and confidence needed to be decisive when you feel you’re at risk of making the “wrong” decision.

5) Stop thinking and just do it

This is a good one when paired with #4 above.  It’s very similar to the old saying “go with your gut.”  If there really isn’t a lot at stake, stop thinking about it and just take action.  If you screw up, chances are you can fix it.  If you’re a bit uncomfortable with jumping into a decision without much thought, then ask yourself these two quick questions (very similar to picturing the worst case scenario):

  1. If I make the wrong decision, how much money will it cost me?
  2. If I make the wrong decision, how much time will it cost me?

If the answers to both questions are acceptable to you, then stop thinking and just do it.


Your time is valuable – that’s the bottom line.  Yes, there is a certain amount of analysis that will help save you time by making the right decision, but there’s usually a point where indecisiveness wastes more time than making a wrong decision.

What do you think about indecisiveness?  Is there a fine line between being decisive and just being stupid?

Stay tuned for “deadly sin” #3.  To make sure you don’t miss any future updates, consider subscribing to my RSS feed.  Also, I’d love it if you shared this post using the buttons below or in the left sidebar.  Thanks!  :)

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23 Responses to “7 Deadly Sins of Entrepreneurship, Part 2: Indecisiveness”

  1. Fantastic post Eric

    Having a strategy is super important along with a framework for your day because without one you end up randomly jumping around topics without ever getting down to the real business.

    We, bloggers, get into the cycle of starting the first 30% of a project. Get right up to the tipping point and then become completely distracted to work on something else before we can reach a level of success with the previous.

    Instead, it IS all about the actions we take. Doing the one extra thing that puts us closer to our goals. Not worrying about getting everything correct on the first go because, after all, it’s the web and we can change things after they go to “print” – it’s dynamic so take full advantage of it!
    Murray Lunn recently posted… Content Strategy- The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need to Create an Incredible Impact Online


    Eric G. Reply:

    Murray, awesome points. I think you’re spot on about bloggers often starting the first 30% of a project before switching to something else – I find myself doing this all too often, and it really makes it difficult to find great success.

    Action is everything, and nothing is permanent – so like you said, we should use this to our advantage whenever possible.

    Thanks for the comment!


  2. Hey Eric, might I add one suggestion to your list – It can help a lot to determine a backup “chore” that needs to be done often and continuously over the course of a broad period of time. When you are not feeling motivated to do things or are unsure what to do next you can always fall back on your default.

    For me I have a couple articles I’m backlinking heavily on PostRunner – I can’t sit there and write 50 guestposts for the system in one sitting so it’s my default “chore” to do over the course of a month.

    When I am between things I can just “fall back” on writing a few short guest posts for PostRunner to backlink my big long running project.
    Chezfat recently posted… How To Make A Living Online – Beginners Internet Marketing Day 13


    Eric G. Reply:

    Chez – I like that idea a lot. Having a default “chore” to fall back on seems like it would eliminate that unproductive idleness we have in between projects when we’re struggling with “what to do?”

    Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it!


    James M Reply:

    Can you tell me anything more about Post Runner? Their website doesn’t give me too much to go on…


    chezfat Reply:

    Sure thing James, TKA members have access to many different tools and teaching materials – one of the tools which isn’t really addressed on the official sales page for the membership program is PostRunner.

    I have a long review of the system published over on my blog which you can check out if you wish but in short TKA members voluntarily allow other TKA members to post guest posts to their blogs. PostRunner is a plugin that lets this happen extremely easily. If you want to submit a guest post to a PostRunner blog you just write the post and then choose from a list of participating blogs to submit to – once you submit then owner of the blog either publishes it or declines it. I’d say about 95 percent of my submissions are accepted. It’s the easiest way to guestpost routinely and thus is is one of the best way to build up good backlinks to promote your own websites.

    That’s a really short summary but I hope it gets the gist across.
    chezfat recently posted… How To Make A Living Online – Beginners Internet Marketing Day 13


  3. For me, it’s more important that I break projects down into time blocks. It’s very similar to breaking it down into smaller tasks, but I want to make sure I can finish those tasks in less than 30 minutes. Having a smaller task will do me no good if it ends up taking me an hour or more to complete.

    I am guilty of analysis paralysis and it’s one of the things I want to focus on in 2011 so I can move on and really be successful in my various ventures.

    Really liking this series so far.


    Eric G. Reply:

    I like the idea of breaking down the tasks into time blocks of 30 minutes (similar to the Pomodoro technique). That goes a long way toward keeping you focused on the task, and forces you to be efficient with your time.


  4. Good points, Eric. I have a list to do for my sites, but it’s so generic like you said that I should make it more detailed to know what I am doing in my next action.

    Action in general is also definitely the first step. Planning can help, but without action you’re not going anywhere!
    Learn With Tim recently posted… Niche Site Update


    Eric G. Reply:

    Exactly, Tim! Thanks for the comment.


  5. Hey Eric,

    “In most cases, I believe the only thing worse than a bad decision is no decision at all.” – Well said, and I’ve had more than my fair share of indecisiveness!.

    You make some valid points here. I especially like your food analogy, and you’re right. Take your product example for example ( 😉 ).

    A month before I launched my first ebook, I was originally waiting for the perfect moment to launch it (specifically, when I was able to acquire 1k+ subscribers). Well, after talking my decision through with a mentor, I was advised to just launch the ebook and get it over with – so I did, and I don’t regret it in the least.

    I think that we should stop asking ourselves questions and just start doing. It’s like you said, some decisions are critical but most are insignificant. Instead, you should play and experiment with your options.

    The problem really lies with which problems are significant and which ones are trivial; so instead of wasting your time worrying about the trivial, spend more time planning for the significant.

    As always, great article Eric!

    Christina Crowe recently posted… Do You Read Like an Encyclopedia What You’re Forgetting and How to Fix It


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Christina! Glad you eventually decided to just launch your eBook before waiting for the “perfect moment” to arrive.

    And the good thing is, as you notice minor issues and whatnot, you can tweak it and continue to improve it. Most things like that aren’t ever “set in stone,” which works to your advantage. :)


  6. Eric,

    There are never enough of these ‘directional’ posts.

    There are many times where I will look at all the projects i have going on in all of their different stages and say ‘what should I do next?’.

    Having an itemized plan for each project helps, and prioritizing what needs to happen first has become much easier (but never ‘easy’) with those lists!

    Thanks for the kick in the rear!
    Brendon recently posted… Virtual Office Space- Why You Need It And How To Rent It


    Eric G. Reply:

    You’re welcome, Brendon, hopefully these more specific to-do lists will help you be more productive. :)


  7. Eric – your list of next actions is awesome! It has now become my defacto to-do list.

    I’m finding that, with internet marketing, there is so much information out there – much of it conflicting – that it is very easy to fall into the trap of perpetual reader. It is best to pick one plan of action and follow through whether it is successful or not.
    Lonnie @ My Income Lab recently posted… How Blog Blueprint Saved My Internet Marketing Ass


    Eric G. Reply:

    Great, thanks Lonnie!

    You’re right – there is a TON of information out there, and it’s hard to not get caught up in it. I’m as guilty as anyone with reading too much online instead of actually taking action. Stop reading and start doing – much easier said than done!


  8. Indecisiveness is the disease of every businessman, waiting too long can make you lose the chance. You need fast thinking, fast acting, and a lot of luck.
    Maria Pavel recently posted… CNA Training In Georgia


    Eric G. Reply:

    Exactly! Thanks for the comment Maria. :)


  9. i see that Indecisiveness and procrastination are killing diseases for every entrepreneur


    Eric G. Reply:



  10. I remember point 5 coming perhaps from the book “HOW TO STOP WORRYING AND START LIVING”. In the very first chapter the author has asked his audience to imagine the worst that could happen to them due to a wrong decision and then have encouraged them to go on . Do let me know if you have gone through the same book.
    James@Chainsaw reviews recently posted… Earthwise CCS30008 18-Volt 8-Inch Cordless Chain Saw


    Eric G. Reply:

    I haven’t read that book, James, but that’s still a great point.


  11. I used to be the guy that was doing nothing. People thought i was lazy, but i actually had so many ideas that i wasn’t able to pick just one to work on. It was hard to get over this and to learn to compromise about these things, but i eventually managed to do it.
    I learned the idea is not that important, what’s important is how you work it.
    Martin recently posted… Understanding CDL Tickets


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