Are You an Information Junky? Why This Could be Holding You Back in Business

When thinking about doing something new, we analyze and dissect the idea. But this could be preventing you from action.

Many of us talk about doing something new in business. We analyze it and think through the details. We imagine how taking this new direction might affect other areas of our lives. We think, deliberate, and analyze, but never actually do it.

Has that ever happened to you?

It has never been easier to access information, but spending too much in the thinking phase, parsing through all the information you can find can impede -- or altogether prevent -- action. And a lack of action is the enemy of progress.

The "paradox of choice," a theory from psychologist Barry Schwartz, helps explain why more information can slow you down. "We all assume in modern western societies that since choice is good, more choice must be better; at every opportunity we should just be giving people more and more options," Schwartz said in a recent interview on CBC Radio. "That turns out not to be true. The paradox is that when there are enough options confronting us, instead of being liberated we're paralyzed by them."

So in the case of starting a new business or maybe expanding your current business, this usually starts innocently enough. You think about it and want to gather as much information as possible in order to decide on the best course of action. But what actually happens is you're weighing yourself down with data -- and making it a lot harder for you to commit to a decisive course of action.

How can you fight analysis paralysis before it starts and put yourself in a position to do and not just to think?

The best thing you can do is just start.

That's right, Nike has this one covered -- just do it! If you've had an idea and it sticks with you -- do something about it. I'm not suggesting you quit your job and put everything on the line to make it happen, but take an action to try the idea out. Maybe start it out as a side hustle to test it out. This way you can not only see if you are able to get some traction, but you can also see if you enjoy it and want to do more with it.

Another reason it's important to just get started is because an idea is only yours for so long. If you don't do something with it, someone else will, as Elizabeth Gilbert explains in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. According to Gilbert, ideas don't belong to individuals. So if an idea can't emerge through you, it will come to life through someone else.

Be agile.

Starting is half the battle. Once you've gotten out of your own way and jumped in, you owe it to yourself to be agile enough to adapt based on the feedback you get and based on what the market is telling you.

For so many entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs, perfect is the enemy of the good. They're waiting on perfect to make decisions and to test other assumptions.

That's a mistake -- and setting that standard makes it tough for your idea to thrive. Eric Ries, author of the influential book, The Lean Startup, sums up this idea: "The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else."

So when a new idea pops into your head, let it marinate for a bit. Figure out if this is a passing idea or something you'd really like to pursue, and if it's the latter, jump in before you overthink it. Action breeds more action.

This post was originally published on on August 7, 2017.