Dec 292015

Ideas Without Initiative – The Entrepreneur’s Biggest Mistake

Do you have a lot of ideas “sitting on the shelf”? Big ideas. Small ideas. Million dollar ideas…

Take a moment to imagine yourself many years in the future, reflecting back on the life you’ve lived. You think about the things you’ve done, including the great moments you’ve spent with friends and family, the things you’ve tried, your great successes and your so-called failures. You also think about another category: the things you’ve never tried.  Ideas you’ve never pursued.

What do you think you’ll take the most pride and satisfaction in? What will you regret?

I’m sure the answer varies for each individual, but I also think there’s some commonality across all people. In talking with hospice nurses and in researching what people regret as they reach the end of their life, one thing always comes up: “the things I never had the courage or confidence to try”.

Think about it even at this stage of your life. What do you regret most?

For me, the answer already parallels what the hospice nurses and others have reported about people regretting toward the end of their lives: the roads not followed, the initiative not taken.

The title above is “Entrepreneur’s Biggest Mistake,” but I think this point applies to everyone, entrepreneurs and others. You do not want to look back at your life and regret the roads you did not take!

If you’re contemplating entrepreneurship and you haven’t been able to pull the trigger, stop worrying and go for it! Note, I am not saying don’t think your venture through as much as possible! I’m saying once you’ve done your research and your calculations, if all looks reasonably good, muster the confidence to take that step!

Entrepreneurship can be very rewarding. It can also be very challenging. There’s risk involved, of course, but if you’ve done your analysis, hopefully you have belief that the potential upside is commensurate with the risk.

So, what is likely to be holding you back?

I would be willing to wager that it’s not a lack of ideas. If it is, look harder – there are plenty of great ideas out there, some of which you may be able to convert into a profitable business.

If it’s not a lack of ideas and opportunities, what is it? In most cases, it comes down to the fear of failure! You’ve likely been successful in some areas of your life and you don’t want to put your self-image or the perception other people have of you at risk. You’re not willing to put it on the line or put yourself out there, as the saying goes.

Alternatively, you haven’t experienced much success to this point in your life, and you’re concerned that any new venture you undertake wouldn’t be any different. How can you change this perception and reality? Do your homework! Prepare. Don’t just wing it. Take a more diligent approach and you’ll increase your confidence and your likelihood of success.

Whatever you do though, make sure it’s not this: Nothing. Just thinking and then not following through with initiative and action will get you only one place: Nowhere.

Resolve to make this the year that you take action. Redefine “failure” as an opportunity to learn. If all doesn’t go exactly as planned, learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward! Do your homework, then take that step!


Paul Morin


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May 302012

analysis paralysis

Avoid Analysis Paralysis – Don’t Overthink Everything

I like analysis as much as the next left-brain MBA type person, but over time, I have learned to avoid analysis paralysis.

What is analysis paralysis?  It is when you are paralyzed by your desire to keep doing analysis until you’ve analyzed every possible variation and outcome.  You end up doing nothing because you don’t want to take a risk, even a small step, without having looked at potential problems from all angles.  It is a true sickness and it runs at epidemic levels among engineers, MBAs and other analytical types.  I speak from experience, as I’m a recovering (over)analysis addict.

So how does one get over the desire to analyze everything to death, and in the process, overcome being afflicted by analysis paralysis?  I don’t think there is one, single recommended path, but here are some ideas.

1.)      Get over yourself.  Lose the idea that you always need to be right.  Perfectionism is the enemy.  Our education system and our society often make us think that we always need to be right, but maturity and experience tell us that’s not how the world really works.

2.)      Related to #1, be willing to take risks.  You may need to start slowly in the beginning, but you’ll get there.  Remember, without risk, there typically is no reward.

3.)      Realize that we live in a world where testing is quite inexpensive for most ideas and scenarios.  Learn to test, test, test, rather than trying to make sure you’re right about everything before ever taking a step.

4.)      Learn to “fail fast”.  If you can adopt and understand that fast failures usually are the quickest path to “success,” you are likely to achieve your objectives more rapidly and more consistently.

5.)      Try some creative exercises and activities.  If you’re firmly rooted on the left side of the brain, make a concerted effort to become more creative and adventurous.  It will help you overcome your tendency toward analysis paralysis.

6.)      Understand that “fail fast” doesn’t mean “fail big”.  Look for opportunities for many small failures that will provide you with the feedback and insights you need to achieve your goals.  Being willing to fail from time to time does not equate to being willing to “bet the farm” at every opportunity.

7.)      Develop support groups.  Find other entrepreneurs and achievers who, like you, are trying to make things happen and make a difference in the world.  Use each other as a sounding board and as “accountability partners”.  Push each other to take action and learn from your mistakes.  Share what you learn with the group.

8.)      Identify role models.  Find people and stories that inspire you to take action.  Read their stories and their writings often, so you stay inspired to be proactive and make things happen.  Surround yourself with others who are trying to make a difference in the world.

9.)      Seek to be a role model and inspire others.  Be a leader.  Be an inspiration to others.  Show them not just what can be conceived, but also what can be achieved.  Put your ideas into action and become a role model for those who would do the same.

10.)   Celebrate your achievements and those of others.  Take time to “smell the roses” and reward yourself for your achievements.  Also celebrate and reward the achievements of others.  Become a champion of achievement and action and you will find that analysis paralysis will soon be a thing of the past for you and those you care about.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

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Dec 282011

The future is bright.

The Future Is Bright.  Focus On Solutions.

Despite all the gloom and doom we constantly hear in the daily news, the future is bright.

Regardless of what we may believe about global politics, national politics, local politics and struggling economies on all geographic scales, it is of little use to focus on gloom and doom.

What I learned at a young age, by virtue of some great mentors and just paying attention to what was going on in the world, is that no matter how horribly the media and my fellow human beings paint the scenario, it is hardly ever that bad for someone who is willing and able to be resourceful.

At the end of the day, even if, for example, some other country is going to take over as the dominant global economic and political powerhouse, or some competitive multinational business is coming into our neighborhood, what good does it do for us to freeze up in fear?  This is not useful.  Freezing up gets you nowhere.  The question is: what action are you going to take to mitigate the risk or to move in another direction?

I have found that those who are constantly talking about problems or potential problems, most likely are not doing anything about them.  Somehow they find it safer and more comforting to commiserate with other people who are doing the same thing, rather than spending their energy assessing their options and taking action.  This mindset defect applies to countries, to companies, to non-profit organizations, to individuals, even collectively to the human race.

Here are some simple steps for avoiding paralysis due to the fear and uncertainty caused by problems you may not completely understand.

Step 1:  Understand the problem as best you can.

Note that I said “as best you can”.  Don’t analyze the problem to the nano-detail, unless it’s a problem that requires that kind of precision.

Step 2:  Determine the magnitude of the problem.

Figure out whether the problem is “life-threatening” or something relatively minor.  It amazes me how often I see people fretting over problems that cannot have any major impact on them and ignoring those which can have significant consequences.

Step 3:  Focus on solutions.

Once you’ve figured out the magnitude of the problem, don’t obsess over it; just focus on solutions.  As soon as you understand what the problem is about, unless it’s highly dynamic, it makes no sense to pay further close attention to it; rather, you should move to focusing your energy on potential solutions.

Step 4:  Take action.

Once you have determined potential solutions, it’s time to take action.  Don’t fall victim of paralysis by analysis.  In the beginning of the process, the enemies were fear and uncertainty.  The enemy now is over-analysis, which itself is largely a result of fear and uncertainty.  Now is not the time for further analysis; it is time to take action and pay close attention to the results your actions are achieving.

Step 5:  Continually adjust your actions based on the results you achieve.

If you are paying attention, you will receive feedback on the results of your actions.  Based on this feedback you should continue to adjust your actions until the problem is successfully mitigated or completely solved.  The key here is not to stop until you get the result you are seeking.  Perseverance plays a key role in overcoming all difficult challenges.

The future is bright, as long as you don’t get caught up in focusing on gloom and doom and problems.  Take all information into account, but make sure that your focus is on finding potential solutions, taking action, and adjusting your actions based on the feedback you receive.  Then, don’t stop until you reach your objective.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Jun 132011

Self-Doubt:  Your Best Friend or Your Worst Enemy

As an entrepreneur or anyone trying to achieve something, self-doubt can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

In my coaching, consulting and my own entrepreneurial endeavors over the last 30 years, I have noticed that while some people seem to have unflappable self-confidence, most seem to vacillate between self-confidence and self-doubt. By the way, I’ve also noticed that when you dig below the surface even just a bit on those who seemingly have “unflappable self-confidence,” they too have plenty of self-doubt, often times much more than everyone else. They just have well developed mechanisms for hiding their doubts from the rest of the world.

As it turns out, self-confidence and self-doubt are two sides of the same coin. Self-doubt and wanting more are an important part of the built-in mechanism that has allowed human beings to adapt and evolve over time. Self-doubt is also what fuels us to try harder and to learn more, so that we can feel that desired mental state of self-confidence, even if just briefly and periodically.

In the end, it’s really only possible to overcome self-doubt with action. You need to do something, overcome your fears and achieve something you never thought possible. That will do wonders for your self-confidence. You know how the story goes though: after a brief period of satisfaction with your accomplishment, you will likely then start to experience self-doubt again and feel the need to push on and accomplish more. If handled well, it’s what is often referred to as a “virtuous cycle.” If not handled correctly, it is likely to devolve into its evil cousin, the “vicious cycle.” Let me explain.

So let’s say you’re experiencing a serious bout of self-doubt. You’re in a funk, as the saying goes. You’re wondering if you’ll ever do anything successfully. Ask yourself a couple of questions: Am I a perfectionist? Am I always setting goals for myself that I have no possibility of attaining in the allotted timeframe? I see it all the time in the people and companies to which I coach and consult. They set impossible goals then wonder why they don’t reach them. I’ve certainly been guilty of it myself as well.

Here’s the key: set incremental goals that will allow you to reach your ultimate goal(s). Allow yourself to be successful along the journey to achieving your major goals. Will you still experience self-doubt along the way? Yes. But use it to your advantage. Use it to fuel your desire and give you energy to practice enough and correctly. Use it to motivate you to set incremental goals that will allow you to have successes and believe that you can reach your bigger goals. Use it to give you the determination you need to chart your own course to accomplishing your goals.

Don’t set yourself up for failure and constant self-doubt by setting impossible goals. Allow yourself to succeed incrementally along the way and you will be shocked how much better your results are, how much happier you feel and how much you enjoy those moments of self-confidence, even it they come and go as part of the virtuous cycle you’ve created.

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Paul Morin

May 162011

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt has some of the greatest quotes and insights out there. You have to admire the simplicity and directness of this quote. You simply must do the thing that you think you cannot do. What the quote does not say, but you can infer, is that once you’ve done that one thing, you should move on to the next one and conquer that as well. As an achiever, you must learn how to confront and overcome your fears, and you must do so on an ongoing basis. You will find that once you develop that mindset, it will become a very valuable habit that you can deploy in every aspect of your life.

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Enriching Others

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May 092011

No man can become rich without himself enriching others.
Andrew Carnegie

The famous steel magnate of the 19th and early 20th century found out early on that you cannot become rich without also enriching others. This point relates to points made elsewhere regarding the use of “leverage”. Those who set out to get rich, particularly with the mindset that they will do so from just their own efforts, usually don’t get there. It is much better to think in terms of enriching others, of helping others obtain what they need and aspire to. If you start with this mindset, it will enable you to also use the efforts of others, hopefully in a symbiotic manner, in your quest to achieve your goals and your dreams, whatever they may be.


May 042011

The value of an idea lies in the using of it.
Thomas Alva Edison

Ideas in and of themselves do not get us anywhere. You can have a million ideas and still never accomplish anything. You must develop the habit of taking your ideas and putting them into action. Develop the habit of noting all your ideas, so you don’t forget them. Realize that, if like most entrepreneurs, you have “an idea a minute,” you will not be able to put them all into action. Realize too, that you must learn to filter your ideas, then take the best ones and execute on them.

May 022011

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
Hellen Keller

This quote provides us with great wisdom from one of the most inspirational characters of modern history, Hellen Keller, who overcame deafness and blindness to make meaningful contributions to society. As her quote points out, it is not possible to accomplish anything meaningful, to overcome any difficult obstacle, without hope and confidence. In entrepreneurship, as in the rest of life, it does not serve us to come at challenges with a negative attitude. We must learn and hardwire into our brains that hope, optimism and confidence are fundamental ingredients in the world of achievers.

Apr 252011

No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.
Isaac Newton

In entrepreneurship, as in science, you are not always going to have all the facts before you embark on your next venture (experiment). It is therefore critical to develop the skill of gathering what data you can, forming one or several hypotheses, then using your intuition and perseverance to discover “reality” and make your way toward your goals. As entrepreneurs and achievers, we all know this to be true, but it is nice to hear it from one of the great scientists of history as well. Intuition plays a significant role in all speculative endeavors.

Apr 202011

Everybody should do at least two things each day that he hates to do, just for practice.
William James

All great achievers I know would agree with this one. Most I’ve spoken with have told me that they owe their success in great part to their willingness to get up day after day and challenge themselves, to do the things that no one else is willing to do. Challenge yourself in your life to pick at least one or two things each day that you can do, that you’d rather not do, that you know can help move you to the next level. Do them. Do them with enthusiasm. You will be absolutely shocked at the things you can do that you previously thought you could not. You’ll be even more pleasantly surprised at how this can help you bring yourself and your business to the next level.