It is the never ending struggle of many Caribbean entrepreneurs. We’ve got a ton of ideas and not enough time and resources to get them done.
Thing is, everything feels urgent and when the idea seems great and you can see clearly the steps to accomplish them, it all seems doable in the moment.
This approach can work if the activity or goal is a short term one and requires you to seize the opportunity to raise cash to keep you going, but operating helter skelter won’t get you to long term and consistent success.
I speak a lot about focus because it is my greatest challenge. I get excited about new ideas and I do want to make them all happen. I get as excited about other people’s ideas as I do my own and then I want to help them achieve their goals as well. Sounds exhausting doesn’t it?
I’ve had to edit myself, much as I do my words when I’m writing. Here are a few questions I must answer before I decide to move forward with an activity. Many of these questions are compiled from the colleagues and friends who have had to help me learn how to filter to focus.
How does this idea fit in with my long term goal for the business or my personal development?
There are many brilliant ideas that become distractions and you must learn how to recognize them before you allow them to take your off course. Yes, life happens but understanding how to identify the things that sound and look good in the moment but will delay or deny you your ultimate goal, is important. Once you do, express gratitude for the idea but acknowledge it does not fit into the plan.
How much of my time will it take to plan and execute?
When it does align with your long term goal, assess what it will take to do it. How much of your physical time and that of other team members will need to be allocated to it? It always takes longer than you believe it will.
Will it take up financial and time resources allocated to other necessary activities?
Projects least likely to get me moving quickly are ones where I am required to make a significant investment in cash up front and long before I will see results. Ideas which can be tested and pitched before investing a lot of money and time are easier to get the green light from me. Another question I ask is what is the minimum financial and time investment I must make for me to see results?
Who will be impacted positively or negatively if I work on this new idea?
Saying yes may mean committing family, staff members or other people to assist me or to take up the slack that is left when I go off on this project. Even if you are a party of one, be honest in assessing whether the investment will be worth the eventual outcomes. Warm fuzzy feelings as the only impact should not be the reason you take on a new business venture. This was also easier to do when I was young and had no real obligations. It is not as effective the older you get or as life begins to require more of you.
What is the pay off to my ego, my finances, my reputation if I were to succeed?
We all have an ego and it can often lead us to take on jobs that are completely self serving and won’t help us to reach success. I’ve learned to check my ego and acknowledge when that is what I am leading with, rather than my heart or head.
What do I lose if I don’t move on this idea now?
There are some opportunities that can only be pursued in the lifetime of the opportunity. It is important to recognize when they come along. Is this a chance for me to gain a new skill or experience in an area which will bolster my company’s credibility and portfolio? This concern usually comes with a measure of feeling fear or inadequacy that I don’t have the goods to deliver. However, the only way to gain the skill and be able to add the activity to my portfolio is to go all in.
Can this idea be delayed for another time?
Every idea is not urgent. Learn to acknowledge when it can be tabled. I like to write down all the ideas I get. It is my way of claiming them and trusting that the right time will come to work on them or share the idea with someone who is ready to execute. Ideas are not in short supply. What is, is our time and we must improve our ability to evaluate when it is time to start something new or double down on the activities we are already taking to grow our business.
Nerissa Golden is media and business strategist and the author of several books including Start, Grow, Thrive: Build a Business to Last and The Making of a Caribbeanpreneur: Strategies for Overcoming Fear and Building Wealth. Follow her on Instagram or LinkedIn for more tips and ideas to help you grow as a Caribbean entrepreneur.