When Is Enough, Enough?

08/17/2007 | 23 Comments

Most online entrepreneurs just like you either suffer from too little or way too much information: There simply is no in-between.

Where do you stand? How do you figure out which amount of information is “just right?”

Today, we’ll continue the conversation on information overload that we started in an earlier blog post. And, boy, is there a lot of material to cover …

Let’s begin with one of the biggest issues.

I’m often asked by nervous entrepreneurs:

When is “enough” information really enough?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this question from clients – “newbie” business owners and veteran business leaders alike.

So many smart people are convincing themselves that they are just not smart enough. Stop doing this to yourself and your business.

As we mentioned in an Aug. 15 posting on this blog about information overload, you can’t possibly know everything, so don’t even try. You just need to recognize what you don’t know and fill in the gaps along the way.

One of our blog readers, Dan Scott, put this urgency in perspective: “Often we keep acquiring more information so we can put off pulling the trigger … at some point, you’ve got sufficient information and should just act.”

Excellent point, Dan.

Think about it:

It’s great to have an impressive vocabulary, but you don’t need to memorize an entire dictionary in order to enjoy a good book. If you don’t understand a new word, simply look it up. It’s that easy to do.

You just have to trust yourself – and your brain. After all, even Albert Einstein couldn’t remember his own telephone number. He reasoned, quite accurately, that he didn’t need to memorize his phone number because he knew where to find it in the phone book.

Einstein didn’t question his knowledge of the unknown, even for little things like remembering a phone number. You shouldn’t either.

Sometimes knowing how to access information is more important than the information itself. Remember that – I’m sure it will become more and more important to you as your business grows.

There’s another puzzling question I hear a lot, and this one is funny when you say it out loud:

How do I know that I’ll know what I need to know when I need to know it?

Questions like these reveal a disturbing unease about strategic business process – and a lack of confidence among business owners. The questions don’t lead to business solutions; they just heighten our anxieties and pick at the scab of uncertainty that irritates us all.

“What if I can’t keep up with my competitors?” …

“What if I don’t buy every business book, read every e-mail, and scan every RSS feed?” …

“What if I miss the one bit of information that could truly set my business on fire?”

“What if …”

This kind of paranoia freezes growth opportunity.

It discourages risk-taking and leads to indecision, inefficiency, and ultimately, paralysis.

This is no way to run a successful business.

Information anxiety plagues many good business people. But the great ones are able to sort through the clutter of information and inaction and get to the part that really matters – the information that leads you to take action.

Again, knowing how to access and interpret information is sometimes more important than the information itself.

Think about this example. What turns the lights on in your house? Simple answer: A light switch.

You don’t need to know about volts, ohms and amperes in order to turn on the lights. You just need the lights to work so you can see what is in front of you.

The ability to see what is in front of you: This is what so many of us seem to have lost.

Instead, we block our own view, and distort our business vision, with needless stacks of irrelevant information. The “stacks” don’t have to be physical. Even a virtual impediment is a blockade to creativity and productive thought.

Oh yeah, one more thing …

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You’ll still make them, no matter how much information you have in your memory and at your fingertips.

Let me share a secret with you.

If you’ve done anything at all – not just business – then you have valuable experiences locked inside you that are just waiting to be rediscovered

You know what has worked and what hasn’t in certain situations. This will ALWAYS provide the best information you need to succeed. It is personal to you and it is timely: Two strong reasons why it’s more valuable to you than most information you’ll come across.

Most likely, no other business guru has ever shared this secret with you ­– because, if they did, it would be bad for business.

But I’m willing to do this for you because I believe you really must understand this. I’ve had some of the best mentors in the world – Jay Abraham, Michael Masterson, etc. – but even with that star-quality guidance, I needed something more.

The most important, impactful and relevant information I ever received that has helped me be successful has come directly from my own experiences – good and bad.

You are the best source of information for your business.

You know what works best and what doesn’t. You’ve thrown yourself into the fire and perhaps you’ve been burned by a few failed business decisions.

So what? That’s nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, it may be just what you need to assure success in the future.

Your experiences, your passions, your successes and failures, all come into play as you move forward in any business venture. Each bit of experience you have gained along the way becomes a pebble on the path toward future growth.

Don’t turn that pebble into a boulder by blocking your ability to move forward with confidence.

Often, clients tell me that watching me make a mistake, rebound and leverage it for future growth has inspired them to really change their way of thinking. They are no longer timid with fear of failure. Instead, they are ready to pounce on opportunity, even if it is born of error.

While you may be tempted to ingest all sorts of information from outside sources, and many of these sources may prove remarkably helpful, the ultimate business decisions are made by you.

It is essential that you take control of that decision-making function.

And no matter what, do not discount what you know already or make your own knowledge any less important than anyone else’s. It is your wisdom that has value because you are living with it.

Last year, in a Sept. 8 blog posting, I offered tips on how to attack information overload and the resulting anxiety it causes.

In it, I asked my readers to overcome “the single biggest obstacle to achieving lasting success online and offline.” That obstacle, for many, is their own personal craving for more and more information.

You may be an information junkie, but don’t let information anxiety turn your business into junk.

What’s causing you to delay action in favor of more research? What impulses are preventing you from “pulling the trigger” on action-oriented solutions?

Your responses on information overload have been illuminating, and I’m learning from all that I receive and read.

Share your secrets to “getting going” on new tasks. Do you have a certain ritual you follow? A certain method you use to kick-start your productivity? How do you know when enough is enough?

Let me know how you do it … There are a lot of people hungry for your ideas.

To Higher Profits,

Rich Schefren