Do something already!


OK, I’ll admit it: we’re about a month into this whole startup thing, and I’m frustrated. Everything is just taking so much longer than I expected – when do I get to start coding?
I think it’s been extra tricky for me because, prior to moving to Denver I didn’t know thing one about starting a small business. As you might have guessed, I am a procrastinator by nature (hence the zero knowledge beforehand). But not knowing the domain has added an extra level to my procrastination. If I ever want to delay the process of actually doing something, I can always go learn more about starting small businesses.
All really good procrastination activities need to be plausible. I can’t procrastinate for that long playing video games, because it’s pretty hard to make a case that it’s a productive use of my time. On the other hand, doing laundry is a pretty good procrastination activity, because, hey, it’s something I was going to have to do anyway.
Learning more about small businesses is a great procrastination activity, because it’s extremely hard to tell the difference between necessary learning and secretly-procrastination learning. Since I knew nothing about a month ago, I never quite know when I’ve learned enough.
It’s very similar to writing a research paper on a broad historical topic you know very little about. Something big like, say, the Civil War. When you start, there is effectively limitless information on your topic at your fingertips. You could read books and papers and encyclopedia articles until you are 100 years old and you still would not have read it all. And that paper is due in three days. So at some point, you have to a) pick a thesis and b) start writing something.
But it’s rather hard to tell when you’ve actually learned enough to write something that won’t be rather stupid. There may very well be some critical historical detail that you’ve overlooked that would totally destroy your precious thesis. A some point, however, you just get an intuitive feel that you know enough to start piecing something, anything together, and you have faith in yourself that you’ll find and fill in the details as you go.
That’s pretty much what starting a small business feels like, only I haven’t found a concise encyclopedic entry to give me the three-page overview yet. So, at any given moment, I’m asking myself “Should I go read more and possibly get further behind? Or should I go actually do something and risk messing it up because I don’t know enough?”


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