One afternoon a couple friends and I decided to go rock climbing. While a couple of my buddies were setting up the ropes, my buddy Tom and I decided to do some bouldering around the trail and found a couple great routes – one that lead up the corner of a couple boulders deep in the trail and another that led around the front face of a boulder with a narrow trail wrapping around it – or so I thought. It wasn’t until I was halfway up the boulder that I realized that the trail that I thought was there dropped off leaving me exposed to the 400 foot drop to the roads. At this point, I had no way out – I had no ropes (I wasn’t supposed to be climbing that high), couldn’t find the route back to the trail from where I was and I knew that I only had so much strength left in my fingertips before my grip weakened and I fell – I had to just start climbing.
The other day I was talking to a fellow entrepreneur and realized how often we find ourselves in these types of situations. Because we have a higher tolerance for risk than most, we take the riskier path knowing that the reward will be greater than that of the safer one, and we end up in a position where the only way out is to just start moving. Tell me if this sounds familiar:
You’ve pulled together a bit of cash – be it from investment, closing a big deal or cashing out your 401k and are trying to decide how best to use it to grow your business and make it replicate itself. As exciting as it is to have gotten the money, now comes the terrified feeling in the pit of your stomach that comes from having to decide where to put it and watch it grow. Anything that you do is going to cost money (you’ve gotta spend it to make it!) and you don’t want to make the wrong choice so you spend so much time trying to make s decision that all of a sudden your monthly burn rate is cutting into that nest egg and it’s too late, you’ve lost the opportunity. All because you couldn’t bring yourself to make a decision quickly enough.
This type of analysis paralysis isn’t uncommon – we talk about it a lot with consumers who are offered so many options that they decide that it’s safer to just do nothing.
That’s fine in the consumer world – even in some business decisions. It doesn’t become a problem until you find yourself in a situation where you see the end of your runway rapidly approaching in which case, doing nothing could quite literally kill your business.