I was recently reviewing investor materials for one of the startups I work with. I appreciated the concept, as it is close to my mind and heart. What I was surprised about was the lack of a road map for the next 12 months or at least one for the next several months. Not even one of those graphs, outlining the abolishment of the main competitor and a total takeover of the market, that are so popular among startups.
The first question I asked myself was “where are they going with this project?” Well, I ask this type of questions as a coach, but in this case, it was a purely business-oriented question that any investor who considers pumping their money into that idea will definitely ask as well.
It was followed by a lot more questions. “Where do they want to be in a year? How about two, or three years?”, ‘How will they know that they are on track?”, “What is the next milestone and when they want to achieve it?” It was all vague to me, with no defined gameplan.
This lack of a plan very clearly demonstrated why setting a precise goal and nailing it down to the steps one needs to take to achieve it is crucial, not only for a company but also for a professional. If there is no timeline, there is no plan. If there is no plan, well, there might be no results either. Everyone wants more money, but that’s just not how it works.
This is what I call – ‘I want something, but don’t know what exactly’ syndrome. At some point, you may get what you want (whatever it is), but since you haven’t defined it, you might be wandering around for years without even knowing how close to the success you are.
You might be so close that you could take a few steps to the right and be there, but since you don’t know where you are and what you are chasing, you just keep going in circles. It’s like being lost in the woods, where all the trees look the same, without a compass or an idea if you are searching for the closest village, or for the main road that will take to the nearest civilization or Ariadne’s Thread that will somehow take you to your destination. Frustrating, huh?
It’s equally irritating for my clients as it is for start-up’s CEOs and to the investors as well.
‘I need help, but don’t make me look at my problem’ Syndrome
What I discovered recently is that startup owners hate being asked questions as it makes them think twice before they self-proclaimed themselves the next Google, Facebook or you-name-it company. It makes them re-examine their idea.
How do you feel when you are sure that something will work and someone dares to question it? Pretty irritated, right? When working with a startup once, I learned that the CEO thought I asked too many questions. I was amused, but also quite helpless to do anything else. How can I help anyone achieve their goals if they don’t grant me access to the information about where they are right now?
Without exploring what they think about themselves, their ideas and what they perceive as their core value proposition, I don’t really know what needs to be addressed first. It signals to me that something is off and that they don’t want me to know where they currently are (is there some dead body in the closet?), and it becomes extremely difficult to figure out what strategy might be best for them as I don’t truly know where they are.
This is what I perceive as ‘ I want you to help me, but don’t ask me to look closer at where I am right now, as I might not like what I discover’ syndrome. It sounds quite scary, right? If fact, knowing where you are is quite comforting as you eliminate the ‘unknown’ factor.
Here is a process to follow to make the first move and get helped:
The first step to get help is to acknowledge that you need it.
Be eager to examine where you are and what baggage (your experiences, ideas, biases, actual events that happen in your life, etc.) you are carrying with you.
Once you are aware of the fact that you need help and you know where you are, there are three options:
A) Act on it and change things the way you want.
B) Accept the status quo and make an informed decision not to proceed.
C) Suppress/eject the idea and pretend you know nothing.
‘I am scared to death of taking action’ Syndrome
The last syndrome I want to talk about is the fear of taking action. If you are stuck there, worry no more! The only solution is to start doing. Not thinking, but doing.
Remember when I mentioned at the very beginning of this blog post that I worked with a startup that didn’t have a 12 - month plan clearly outlined for its potential investors?
It would be just as bad for them to have a ten-year plan with no steps being taken to achieve it. The fear of the consequences of our moves stops us way too often, even though the majority of those fears are made up and will definitely not materialize.
To come to the same realization, think about the last time you were really doubting a course of action, where you were absolutely sure that your world would collapse because of something you were about to do. Chances are, the world didn’t collapse and everything was just fine. How silly did you feel when you realized that all the worry was unnecessary? I have been there, we all have.
The bottom line is this. Build a plan, and don’t let it stop there. Test your ideas in real life, instead of indulging yourself in a never-ending planning process. It only encourages you not taking action. Seriously, go and test one of your crazy ideas right now!
If you need help in nailing down what your next step is, write down your name in the comment section to let me know you want YOUR FIRST FREE coaching session done! I will conduct a free session for the first 3 people who write their names in the comment section 😊.