“I have 100 ideas!”
One of the most common reasons people we survey give for why they can't get started creating their own online business is that they don't have any idea what they should choose.
Perhaps surprisingly, another very common reason is that they have tons of ideas and don't know which to choose.
But in both cases, the person is at a standstill. And it's because having 100 ideas for an online business you want to start is the same as having zero ideas.
Year After Year
Another thing we've learned from asking our customers is how long they've been thinking about having their own online business. The median number – believe it or not – is eight years. That's a long time to not select one idea from 100 ideas. Or to not see an appealing idea one day while surfing around looking at the sites they like most.
Think about what eight years looks like:
2011: Can't decide which online business to start.
2012: Still can't decide which online business to start.
2013: Still can't decide which online business to start.
2014: Still can't decide which online business to start.
2015: Still can't decide which online business to start.
2016: Still can't decide which online business to start.
2017: Still can't decide which online business to start.
2018: Still can't decide which online business to start.
2019: . . . so far, still can't decide which online business to start.
There has to be more at play here than the difficulty of the decision itself.
I think it's that we have all learned to be comfortable telling ourselves internal stories that make our life easier.
Which reminds me of a Venn diagram meme I've occasionally seen online. 😂
“I Need to Know Every Detail Beforehand”
There's another psychological trap that seems pretty common; delaying a decision until every element of an operating business can be known ahead of time.
On the one hand, there is no good argument for starting a project blindly and in complete ignorance. But, on the other hand, the value of delays pretty quickly reaches a point of diminishing returns.
When you consider that your mature business will make – let's say for argument sake $5,000 per month – every month of delay costs you $5,000 in lost income down the road. So while it pays to make a solid plan, it costs a small fortune to delay that plan when you really don't need to delay it.
And speaking of “down the road” I like the analogy of driving 1,000 miles at nighttime. Your headlights are only good for seeing 100 yards down the road, but that's all you need to drive 1,000 miles.
With an online business, there are hundreds of little decisions that get made along the way. But each decision is determined by specific circumstances and preferences at the time.
And every question has a rational answer. So you don't need to figure out what those answers will be way ahead of when they occur.
Just like if you're starting a long drive from New York to Los Angeles you don't need to decide days in advance which route to take through Indianapolis at rush hour or how bad the crosswinds are going to be in Kansas.
These things are better decided when you get there, and in any event, don't require cancelling the trip or staring at the map for another year.
The Solution is to Focus
The reality is nobody has 100 ideas for their own online business. A business idea requires a plan.
It's great when a person knows what his passion is. But it's not enough to just say, “My idea for an online business is – golf.”
That's not even a niche. It's a giant industry. It's so big that a person without a seven or eight figure marketing budget needs not just a sub-niche, but a sub-sub-niche. Those choices need to be made very early.
And equally important, even if you really love playing golf, it would still be possible to create an online business in a golf sub-niche that you actually did not enjoy because it targeted the type of players you don't like or it used a business model that can't deliver the lifestyle you really want.
So you need to be asked good questions and you need to think about your best answers. (You can get 17 important questions here that will get your mind focused on what's important to you and what strengths you can leverage.)
But most of all, you have to change the “story” you tell yourself about how you “Still can't decide which online business to start.”
Instead, see yourself as a person who takes control of your life and moves toward your important goals. Tell yourself that you’re a person who takes action and achieves your goals with the information you have at hand. Tell yourself that you're following the path blazed by others who are already doing exactly what you want to do.
Pivot from what isn't working to what is actually required. Take action.