Startups and the Procrastination Dragon

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Remember the days when your new big idea itched your brain till you told your friends, spouse, confused parents and yourself that you have found the solution to some huge problem faced by half the population of the world? Think how motivated you were then. Ideas bustling, implementation details appearing like spring leaves off every branch in your imagination. A few hours work led to a spreadsheet and if you could just get some support from your geeky friends, it would see green pretty soon.

Why are you still at your same old job? Where did the motivation, the spark go? Several big ideas and many rusting spreadsheets later, has the feeling of vaccuum overcome you? Your startup, my friend, has been captured by the Procrastination Dragon. Like many who were captured before, your startup awaits the hero who would break the shackles and slay the fire breathing, odd smelling procrastination dragon.

Here are a set of weapons you may carry on your brave venture:

Understand Yourself

The best weapon you will ever have against procrastination is knowing and understanding how you work. This self analysis gives you the inner compass which guides you in what steps are required. Every one has their own mount everest to climb and by understanding what makes you tick will help you set up a rewards program for yourself.

Understand Procrastination

“Procrastination is a type of behavior which is characterized by deferment of decisions, actions or tasks to a later time.” There are both psychological and physiological reasons which help this beast raise its head. Fear of failure is a big reason and it makes sense too, but fear of success is also cited as a reason. While the first causes anxiety about rejection, the latter causes worry about setting higher standards than one can maintain. The resulting anxiety and guilt can cause severe mental torture and lead to clinical depression and loss of productivity and self-esteem.

Extinguish the Fire

Entrepreneurship involves the recognition of opportunities (needs, wants, problems and challenges) and the use of resources to implement innovative ideas for new thoughtfully planned ventures. Startups are a lot of knowledge domains and expert tasks all mixed together in an interdependent manner. No wonder its easy for the dragon to start fires where you are not looking. The solution is to plan thoroughly by breaking the startup tasks down according to objectives. Some tasks will be administrative, while others will be regarding marketing etc.

Choose your Battleground Wisely

Many a battles have been lost and won due to the choice of the battleground. Here we are talking about your mental positioning. You can not fight the dragon successfully until we have significant passion about the startup. Ideas will pop in every other day but careful thought will help you develop significance with an idea. Only then can you climb over the walls and challenge procrastination.

One way I have found helpful is to do a good business model analysis for my idea. Write down your customer segments and what value would your idea bring to them. Figure out what your expertise/positioning is and what activities you will have to perform in order to bring that value to your customer segments. Finally figure out the cost of those activities and the revenue streams that can be generated. Such an analysis raises so many questions that a much better and planned picture appears. If the idea still works for you then rest assured that this is one battlefield where procrastination will not raise its head.

Get Things Started

We have all heard about the procrastination beating way of life called Get Things Done. Let me tell you my friend, what your startup really needs is to get things started. That business plan that is almost done in your head, needs to get on paper. It is often at this point that attention deficit disorder creeps in and soon the idea is lost as you create a new business plan for a new idea, again in the head.

I deal with it by starting doing things right away even if it means I create word documents and name them. Once they are there, I delve into them as soon as creativity hits me and more often than not, I have the satisfaction of ticking off my to-do list.

Reward Yourself

Finally, learn to reward yourself for real achievements. A to-do list works pretty well with this idea. If you get done with a few tasks on the list, tell yourself how good you have been. Slaying the procrastination dragon comes a small step at a time. Rewarding yourself with whatever you fancy will positively reinforce the habit in your mind.

Ideas are a dime a dozen. It is about implementation. Your startup requires you to be well equipped to fight the procrastination dragon. In the end the simple joy is in the implementation of a spark in your brain.

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3 Comments

  • Adnan……What a great article…. Two Thumbs Up Man!!!!! Every single word sounded so true, it feels like I have exactl same thoughts going thru my mind…..there has been number of times when I am struck with the ideas but then all of the sudden the FIRE just fades away….I think we really need to fight hard with the procrastination dragon!!!!!

    Bravo!!

  • Thanks TEE BEE. Some of us who are always struggling with procrastination, have found that developing positive habits goes a long way as a cure.

  • Kashif Shamaun

    Such superb job done….. Never knew of procrastination thing before, even I was suffering with one. I’ll defiantly study further on this topic and try to follow your solution.

    Hats off to Sir Adnan Ali!

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