Paralysis by Analysis

Posted by Trevor on 9 March 2012 | 1 Comment

This is the second in my series of “Blake’s Business Basics,” a get started guide for entrepreneurs. 

Can you see the forest through the trees?

So far in this business planning series we’ve looked at getting your business plan down to a single page and doubling whatever budget you’ve worked out. The next step is a make or break point for many entrepreneurs. “Paralysis by analysis” refers to the tendency entrepreneurs have to over-analyze their company to the extent that they’re unable to adapt. To be successful, you have to be able to adapt unemotionally from your original vision.

I once had the great privilege to work with George Rathmann, the founder of Amgen and in my opinion, the Bill Gates of the biotech industry. With an average value of over seventy billion dollars in recent years, Amgen is America’s most successful biotechnology company. George gave me one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received: “You don’t know what business you are in until you get into it. So just do it.” He gave me this in response to my lengthy diatribe about the future of a company I had started. From my view, I was in the business of making money in pharmaceutical sales. Over time, we ended up developing drugs for rare pediatric diseases, and finding ways to make them affordable to anyone who needed them. The direction and opportunities that came to us once we got into this business are something I could never have predicted in the beginning.

George Rathmann’s advice proved to be spot on. If I had stayed focused on analyzing where we were, I wouldn’t have noticed the new and exciting directions we went on to pursue. I’ve started four companies so I know how it feels in the startup world. You start a company, and the very next day it’s nothing like you imagined. It doesn’t matter how many business plans you have. No one cares about your 60-slide presentation with the most compelling data in the world saying your business will work.

The successful entrepreneur is the person who is able to adapt unemotionally to constantly changing circumstances. This is why so many scientists, engineers and other highly educated entrepreneurs fail. They invent a product and believe in it so much that they’re unable to see the dangers and challenges out there. These are the companies that are gone almost as quickly as they start.

There are very few successful entrepreneurs in comparison to the number of ideas out there. To get into the success mindset, the millionaire mentality, you have to stop analyzing and just start.

Photo: This photo is taken from a three acre wood that is part of my Redmond, WA home. This ancient wood has never been disturbed by humans until now and appears to be on a regular migration path of dears and black bears… much to Freddie and Mabel’s chagrin. We have cleared out only the tree weeds that were choking the natural vegetation. The woods provide me with natural herbs and killer fruit that I use to bake (I love to bake) the best blackberry and apple pie in the world… well I think so anyway. They also provide my essential addictive connection to nature.

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