When you are overwhelmed by all those opportunities.
By definition, true entrepreneurs are struggling with commitment.
… taking on new challenges.
… being innovative.
… novelty and creation.
We love the process of coming up with new ideas. We love the challenge of solving complex problems. We love learning new things by experiencing a variety of different situations.
This makes us see every new opportunity with shiny eyes.
Whenever a new opportunity comes up to tackle a difficult problem, we have the tendency to take on this challenge right away.
But here is the other side of this coin.
All this makes it difficult for us to commit to something. We struggle with sticking with one problem to solve and simply work it through to the end.
Or, to stick with one business plan and to actually keep working on that for years at a time.
No meaningful work can ever get done by jumping from one opportunity to the other all the time.
The most meaningful problems to solve in the world, naturally also require long-term commitment to them. They require us to put all our heart into them and focus on them alone with undivided attention.
Paradoxically, this has the effect that the people who are naturally highly innovative and creative problem solvers, are also often the people mostly unsuited for entrepreneurial work.
They keep jumping around aimlessly from one opportunity to the other.
They keep tackling new problems, while old problems remain unsolved.
They keep taking on new projects, without ever shipping previous one’s.
In the end, many entrepreneurial types never truly get anything done. They never actually finish what they have started. They never actually build anything meaningful.
The projects they are working on exist only in their heads, not in their materialized form.
An uncommitted entrepreneur is nothing but a dreamer
Here’s the main difference between a true entrepreneur, and an entrepreneurial type of person:
The entrepreneur commits to a project and ships it, the entrepreneurial type takes on one thousand projects and ships none of them.
In other words, it is commitment which makes the real difference between success and failure.
The person who succeeds is going to have to choose one worthwhile project to work on among the thousands of viable options, and then commit to working on that project until it is done.
Innovation doesn’t happen in finding and solving unique problems, it happens while coming up with new solutions within the constraints of a particular problem.
In other words, an entrepreneur has to make a final choice in terms of what problem he or she is working on as early as possible, and then find ways of coming up with new solutions within the constraints of that problem.
The biggest problem of entrepreneurs is not finding the right idea.
The biggest problem is that many entrepreneurs stop working on a totally viable idea, simply because they think that they have just come up with a “better” one that has more potential on the market.
They simply don’t have the commitment to choose one thing to work on, and then to stick with that one thing for the years that it takes to make it work.
The main barrier to commitment is our own fear
We are afraid that we…
… chose the wrong project.
… are unable to build it.
… are unable to make it profitable.
… are unable to compete in this market.
All of these fears are completely baseless. As long as we are selecting a real problem faced by real people, there is a viable business which can be built around this problem.
And, there is going to be your own potential niche within that market.
What we should really be afraid about is that we keep jumping from one project to another for the next 10 years, finally realizing that in all this time, we haven’t managed to build anything substantial.
With true commitment to solving a particular problem and a willingness to put all our energy into its solution, eventually we will build a product that matters.
I mean, I get it.
If I didn’t know that I would die out of poverty otherwise, I would keep tinkering around with different abstract ideas all my life. I love spending my time brainstorming, coming up with new ideas, and tackling new problems.
But this behavior never got me anywhere.
It was only that I really committed to one single thing and nothing else, that I started seeing real results.
Whereas previously I had been involved in different start-up projects, different businesses, and different writing projects, I now started to focus on nothing but my writing business alone.
You can’t believe what difference this has made in my life.
Within four months, I have created more tangible results in this way, than I achieved in the past five years of my professional life.
Some final words:
An entrepreneurial mind-set is the precondition for success in business, but it is true commitment to one single project/problem/business plan which drives real results.
Here’s what Steve Jobs had to say about this topic:
“People think focus means saying yes to the things you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things”
In other words, you’ve got to choose one single thing to work on. And then you’ve got to say no to every other opportunity that is coming your way.
All these other opportunities are only distractions, and nothing else.
So the question that you now have to ask yourself is clear:
“What is the one single project that you are willing to commit to for a long period of time? The project which you are going to make succeed no matter what?”
You have to be willing to sacrifice all other professional opportunities for that project. Otherwise, it is simply not a project worth pursuing.
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