JFDI

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Image by makoworks via Flickr

I stumbled on to this great blog post by @msuster talking about what it takes to be an entrepreneur.  His post can be summarized in four letters, JFDI, which stands for Just F**King Do It.

Entrepreneurs make fast decisions and move forward knowing that at best 70% of their decisions are going to be right.  They move the ball forward every day.  They are quick to spot their mistakes and correct.  Good entrepreneurs can admit when their course of action was wrong and learn from it.  Good entrepreneurs are wrong often.  If you’re not then you’re not trying hard enough.  Good entrepreneurs have a penchant for doing vs. over-analyzing.  (obviously don’t read this as zero analysis)

This really resonated with me.  I can get very comfortable with analyzing things.  I can in fact spend months and years analyzing something.  This is partly because I like to research, explore, review, brainstorm and partly because I’m scared of moving forward.  Sometimes I tell myself I’m just afraid of making the wrong move, but either way it’s all related to a fear of taking the next step.  The problem with this is you end up in this limbo world where you are safe from mistakes but also tormented by the decision hanging above you.  The longer the decision hangs above you, the heavier it gets whether you are aware of it or not.  The only reprieve from the weight is to act.  JFDI

In the blog post he talks about an entrepreneur who was constantly in brainstorming mode on his next thing, saying he was stuck because he didn’t have any money.  He was convinced the only way forward was to raise money.  This is a common excuse for inaction among entrepreneurs.  I’ve certainly been guilty of this, although I must confess my preferred stall tactic is to tell myself and others that I don’t quite have the right idea yet.  It doesn’t really matter the reason because at the end of the day they are just excuses. This is one of many deciding moments in the life an entrepreneur, the place where it seems like you are all out of options.  Either you find a way to do it, or you quit.  Mark advises the stalled entrepreneur:

I was blunt (warning: that sometimes happens with me) and told him not to bother and that I wasn’t prepared to help with angels.“Why?” he asked.  I told him he wasn’t a real entrepreneur.  He looked stunned.  I said that he had been talking about doing this for too long.  He still had no website and no prototypes.  But “he didn’t have the budget to hire a developer until he had raised money!”

I said that was my point. “A real entrepreneur would have done it anyway.  He would have found somebody technical and inspired that individual to work for equity or deferred payment.  Real entrepreneurs are contagious.  They are filled with ideas and they get those ideas onto paper.  That paper can be in the form of wireframes or in the form of a PowerPoint plan.  Or worst case your ideas can be conveyed verbally.  But they GET THINGS DONE.  You have the skills and knowledge to do that.”

Blunt but great advice.  If you want something bad enough, you can find a way to move forward, to act.  If you’re focused on the acting towards a result instead of a step towards a result (getting a prototype built some way vs obsessing over raising money to get a prototype built), if you’d JFDI, it would come together some way.  The entrepreneur took his advice:

He took my comments as a challenge.  He went out and found a developer and built a product.  He refined his business plan and he got commitments for $150-200k but needed some lead angels to commit first.  When he re-approached me he had a much better plan and he had a prototype!  I introduced him to some angels and his round was OVER SUBSCRIBED!

You and I have all the knowledge and skills we need to move our businesses forward RIGHT now.  We don’t have to wait for more data, for someone else to help, for outside input, for the “right moment.”  None of that.  We can move things forward right now. JFDI and you’ll not only feel better, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

(Additional thought:  I think self reflection, analysis, outside input, etc are still very important and should be used with the JFDI approach.  I think a good analogy is practice vs real game in the sports world.  There is definitely a time and place to practice and develop your skills, to analyze, to grow and then there is a time and place where you just trust and act.  Get out of your head at the real game and trust your training and preparation will guide you in the right direction)

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