What a creative mind you have! Most see creativity as a blessing--and it is. What non-creatives don’t know is that your mind is always spinning: seeking new opportunities, hunting for novel ideas, problem-solving, and let’s not forget the concerns and worries that are present all too often.
Entrepreneurs are challenged by these internal, as well as external, distractions all day long; it seems to come with the territory. What separates the truly successful entrepreneurs from those who struggle is that they learn how to harness the creative force and block out the noise. Can you tame your mind so it works for you, instead of against you? Of course you can!
Here’s my list of five of the most common mental and physical distractions that keep entrepreneurs from achieving success, along with a few suggestions on how to manage them.
You may not think of fear as a distraction, but indeed, it’s the worst of all. From mild preoccupation to more chronic symptoms, fearful thinking is bad for your business—and your health. Fear of failure and risk, of success, or not being good enough, fear of feeling like a fraud-- the list goes on. When you’ve got negative thoughts rolling around in your mind, focus is nearly impossible and unconscious self-sabotage is likely.
The most important thing to know is that you are not alone; nearly every entrepreneur experiences fear. Sometimes this knowledge alone helps people to break the fear barrier. If you can’t seem to achieve a break through, hire a coach who focuses on business and mindset. There is nothing wrong with you, you simply need a shift in perspective that only an expert can assist you in achieving.
2. Bright and Shiny Object Syndrome.
This is my nickname for a tendency to break away from priorities and relentlessly pursue new opportunities and ideas. It’s all too easy for an entrepreneur to get sidetracked. However, most of these endeavors end up being nothing more than a costly distraction from your core business model.
It’s important to have absolute clarity around what you want, personally and professionally. Once you create this foundation, you can easily discern between a great opportunity and something that will take you off track. This “syndrome” may also be a sign of self-sabotage. If you haven’t worked on your vision, and a plan to get there, now is the time.
3. Neglecting your role as an entrepreneur.
ahn-truh-pruh-nur, -noo r: “A person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money” or “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” Notice that “risk” is the common denominator in this definition. To mitigate the risk, you must operate your business wisely, and doing everything yourself is not a wise choice.
Your job is to steer the ship and to place someone else in the engine room; you cannot do both. Consider outsourcing things like customer service, bookkeeping, manual labor, and even marketing. The money you spend will come back to you ten-fold as you focus on money-making activities and strategies.
4. Getting caught up in the noise.
You rely on devices and access to the internet to keep your business going, making it difficult to disconnect. It seems harmless to do a quick social media or email check, but let’s put that into perspective. Your brain is capable of intently focusing on an activity for up to two hours at a time. With every distraction, you whittle away at that valuable time. Each time you veer off track, it takes your brain up to ten minutes to regain its focus. Let’s say you decide to answer three emails, taking three minutes to craft your individual responses and ten to re-focus. That is a whopping thirty-nine minutes, virtually vanished into thin air!
Shut down email and let others know that you may not be interrupted to reduce the likelihood of distractions when you need to focus. Allow calls to go to voicemail (yes, even customer calls) and, if you must do research on-line, refrain from checking in on social sites. You can do it!
5. Not taking your schedule seriously (or not having one at all!).
One of the reasons you are self-employed is that you love flexibility and freedom. However, those small business owners who have a loose definition of freedom typically lack the focus to succeed. Perhaps you loathe to be slave to a calendar, but if you don’t create some sort of a schedule the burden of goals unmet will weigh heavily on your mind. Find a systematic approach to business growth that provides both, functionality and flexibility.
Make “appointments” with yourself to work on defined activities like marketing, sales, and relationship-building. Treat that time in the very same way you would a meeting with an important person, like a buyer. You would never opt to run to the mall or mill about on social sites instead of attending that meeting. Remember, your goals and dreams are just as important, if not more!