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5 Excuses Solopreneurs Repeatedly Make (And How to Avoid Them)

by Sean Ogle | Last Updated: October 25, 2012

We all make excuses. It happens, it’s inevitable and it’s part of human nature to shift blame and take the easy road whenever possible.

Go ahead, just try and tell me I’m wrong!

However if you’re starting out as an entrepreneur, the excuses have to stop.

Why?

Because now the only one left who will feel the pain of those excuses is you.

If something didn’t get done in your day job you could almost always shift blame, buy time, and diffuse the situation.  Guess what happens then?

You still get paid.

Once you’re on your own, if you fall into the trap of endless Playstation sessions and the entire series of 24 – you’re screwed.

In order to be successful, you need to recognize your most common excuses and put an end to them.  As soon as you stop making excuses and just start making things happen, you’ll notice a dramatic shift in happiness, results, and your bank account.

Today we’re going to look at five of the most common excuses new entrepreneurs make that lead to disaster.

How do I know what they are? Because I’ve made every single one of them, and continue to on occasion.

This post is in some ways a reminder to myself.  When I’m not doing what I know I should be and begin taking the easy road, things go downhill quickly.

Use this post as a reference, as I will be doing, to get back on track next time you find yourself making excuses.

Excuse #1: I’m Waiting on My Designer/Developer/Writer

So I’ve got this new project I’ve been working on called Breaking Eighty (obviously a very early stage work in progress).  I’m stoked for it.  Essentially it’s going to be a way for me to turn one of my biggest hobbies into a business.

I was all good to go on it a month ago.  I was pumping out high quality content, and contacting organizations that I thought would allow me to further my goals for it.

A good friend of mine offered to help out with the theme, and said he’d have it to me in a few weeks.

Instead of making sure everything was perfect and ready to go for launch as soon as the design was taken care of, I’ve stopped working on it.

Completely.

I’ve hardly touched it in a month, even though I know it has some serious potential and will be a lot of fun to work on.

I’ve allowed myself to rationalize that I can’t work on anything until I have the design – because that’s the aspect I’m currently most excited about.

Just because I can’t work on the thing I want to work on, doesn’t mean there aren’t a ton of things that are just as important to be building out.

How do you avoid this pitfall?

Have you ever found yourself not doing work because you’re waiting on someone else to send you one aspect of it? Here’s what you do: spend 5 minutes and write a list of everything that needs to be done on that project.  If you’re anything like me, it will take all of 20 seconds for that list to get pretty staggering.

Now, do the one thing you want to the least first.  Get it done, then everything else will seem easier and it will give you that all-important momentum that’s so key to entrepreneurial success.

Excuse #2: “I Was Productive for Half an Hour, I Deserve a Break”

No you don’t.

Think about all of the entrepreneurs you aspire to be like. What would they do?  Would they take a break after writing half a blog post?

Of course they wouldn’t.

No one get’s rich and gets the privilege of living a badass lifestyle with that kind of mindset.

So then why is it so easy to do?  I’ll be totally honest, this one is killer for me.  I’ll get one task done, and my 5 minute break often turns into 30 minutes of web surfing, You Tube videos, or any number of other time sucks.

So, how do you stay on task?

When I find myself in a really unproductive mood, I have a document that I turn to that has a list of all the stuff I want in life.

This list is stuff that’s both short term and long term, however I place a particular emphasis on the former.

Things like:

Sure I can afford these, but I’m also notriously frugal.  I won’t buy them unless I feel like I’ve earned them, and have made enough money that month to justify the extra expense.

By thinking about these things I want in the short term I’m able to translate my procrastination into real life.

I think of everything I want in terms of sales.  How many Location Rebel or affiliate sales do I need to buy this?  If I’m doing client work, then it’s how many hours do I have to work to be able to buy this?

I’ll figure out what that number is, and then set a goal.

Maybe I tell myself I have to make 5 sales in one week, and then I’ll go reward myself with one of the things I want

When there are tangible outcomes and rewards on the line, it’s much easier to focus on what needs to be done in order to get the rewards you want.

Excuse #3: “It’s Cool, I’m Going to Start on Monday”

Ah, the deferred beginning.

You get a solid plan together, you figure out exactly what you need to do, and then you tell yourself you’ll do it after the weekend, or after the holidays, or next month.

When was the last time you did this in some aspect of your life?  I’m willing to bet at least once in the last two weeks you’ve done this on one level or another.

Why is this one so dangerous?

Because you get the majority of the benefit with none of the work.

Let’s use the most common example of this: The Diet.

It’s Thursday afternoon and you’ve been researching workout routines and diet plans for a week.  You’ve finally decided you’re going to Take Tim Ferriss’ advice and give the slow carb diet a shot from the 4 Hour Body.

You feel amazing about the decision.  A smile careens across your face and you proceed to go out and drink 3 martinis, a half pound cheese burger and fries, and chocolate raspberry cheesecake for dessert.

You do it all guilt free because after all, your diet doesn’t start until Monday!

The reality is, you didn’t do anything.

In fact, you did less in terms of healthy living than you normally do, yet in your head, you’re getting the same benefit as though you’ve been dieting for weeks.

So. Dangerous.

How do you get past this?

Stop thinking about the calendar.

When you think in terms of weekdays and weekends, Mondays and Fridays, it becomes really easy to find natural times to start anything new.

The reality is there’s no difference between a Thursday and a Monday – both are just as good of an opportunity to begin something new.

We all know it’s not that easy though – we need accountability.

Next time you even think about “starting something on Monday” call someone close to you and ask them to check in with you in 24 hours to see how you’re doing with that thing you said you were going to start.

I’ve been exploring all sorts of ways to facilitate this inside Location Rebel, and one thing I’ve learned is that everyone needs a different flavor of accountability – you need to figure out what’s going to work for you. Is it fear of punishment or the promise of a reward?  Decide what’s more motivating to you and then use your accountability partner to help implement.

Excuse #4: “I Don’t Have Any More Work to Do Today”

This one is a little tricky, but the fact of the matter is:

Yes, you do.

While I’m a firm believer that there gets to be a point where you do need to stop working, it’s not because you don’t have any more work to do.

Get used to it because as an entrepreneur, the work will never be done. 

There’s always something that could or should be done, and if there’s not, then you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough.

I’ve written about my to-do list strategy in the past.  Essentially I create my list the night before, and unless something urgent happens, I don’t add anything to it.

If I work hard in the morning and am done by 1, it’s great to be able to enjoy the rest of the day worry free.

The key to making this successful completely lies in your ability to create good to-dos.

They should be proactive rather than reactive, wheneever possible.

Meaning, they should be specific goals that will grow your business, rather than reacting to things within your business.

If you can spend a solid 4-6 hours on growing your business you’ll not only be building something legit, but you’ll still have the work/life balance you’re after as a lifestyle entrepreneur.

How do you fight this excuse?

Simple, you don’t ever say it. Ever.

You can say “I’m not going to do any more work today,” but any time you say you don’t have it you’re lying to yourself.

So make the mental reframe of recognizing you’ll always have work, but that you’re actively choosing not to pursue it.  When done correctly that’s not an excuse, it’s a smart decision.

Excuse #5: “I Have to Check My Email First”

Email is one of those things that you always feel like you have to do.

Sure there may be the occasional urgent email, but usually it’s just an excuse for not doing something that will acutally grow your business.

Email is a great way to feel accomplished without getting much done.

I’ll admit, one of the first things I do every morning is check my email.  However, where I’ve become more disciplined is in the fact that after checking for anything urgent, I’ll set it aside for a few hours while I write.  Whether it’s a blog post or content for a product or site,  I use my most creative working hours (the morning for me) for stuff that will pay off down the road.

I’m willing to bet you’ve wasted a lot of good creative time spending an hour or two plowing through emails – and then when you’re done you never get to the stuff you should be doing.

Remember those reactive vs. proactive activities we discussed?  Same thing applies.

So how do you stop using email as an excuse?

For some of you, you may be able to just stop doing it first thing in the morning – and that’s great, if you can do it.

For others, it may be more of an addiction than you realize.

Use a tool like Rescue Time or LeechBlock to physically block yourself from your email client for a set amount of time.

Perhaps from the hours of 7 am to 9am, you lock yourself into your text editor and churn out content.  You’ll be amazed at how much more accomplished you feel after only a couple days of doing this.

Will This Solve All of Your Problems?

Of course not.

Like I said, making excuses is part of human nature.  However by at least recognizing your actions, and having a good back up plan, you’ll be in a much better position to change your habits, become more productive, and ultimately make your business that much more successful.

What excuses do you make way too often?

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
Build a Lifestyle Business Giving You Freedom You've Always Wanted

Our 6-part course gives you a strategy to start right now. Put control of your life back in your hands. Sign up below and let’s do this together.

By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from Location Rebel. We'll respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.