Being Paralyzed by Ideas

For the past 2 years, I’ve started 2 startups that ultimately failed. During the in between times when I don’t actually have a startup, I wasted most of my time idling or planning. And this is very frustrating.

During the idea-problem discovery phase, I tend to think of many ideas that I believe is worth a short. The problem with that is, I’m constantly faced with choices and decisions to make. Naturally, I start to analyze which idea is better and which I think I’m more passionate about. I use customer development model for all my startups and that means actually validating the idea, problem, and solution with customers’ input, feedback, action, behavior and metrics, and not solely on assumptions or opinions. The problem, however, with having too many ideas is the hindered ability to actually begin the process of customer development on each of them simultaneously.

Yes, I’m a big believer that entrepreneurs should channel their energy and focus their effort on one single startup during the duration of achieving solution-market fit. However, my personal belief is that during problem validation phase, it’s alright to flirt with a handful of ideas. After all, it’s only worth your time if the problem truly exist at a large scale.

But yeah, let’s imagine you came up with 4 ideas and wanted to validate the problem for 4 ideas simultaneously through customer development. That’s no easy task! We, as humans, tend to feel paralyzed when there’s just too much going on.

So how do you overcome that?

For me pesonally, I’ll narrow down to about 2-3 ideas to work on simultaneously  And the big part of it is staying discipline, focused and ‘not-clueless’. How do I do that?

I find having a very practical actionable step as an execution guide to be very useful. I use a table like:

 

  1. Update and review the table daily before bed or first thing in the morning. And throughout the day, split your time to actually carry out the listed task!
  2. Have daily actionable goals (Don’t set goals that are not actionable. example of non-actionable goal: “verify the problem by thurs.” Being able to verify by thursday is not in your control. That’s not actionable. Something actionable would be “Call 2 potential customers to discuss about it today”).
  3. Don’t make a fixed schedule, keep it flexible but update your plan daily.
  4. And don’t spend more than 30 minutes planning your day.

This so far has been very helpful for me. I’m sure many entrepreneurs face the same problem. If you do and have some solutions, tips or tricks to share, please leave a comment below! I would love to hear from you.

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