How I combat business information overwhelm
The thing with owning my own business is that its made me feel like I can do anything. I've taken a leap once, right? So surely I can do it again. And again. And again.
Here's some of the things I've considered adding to my already packed schedule over the last week or so: website design, Instagram courses, video content, selling planners, opening an Etsy shop.
The problem? I don't actually know how to do any of it. The cause? Bloody enticing Facebook ads promising me they have the solution to all my business woes.
They started appearing pretty much the minute I began searching for content to help me along on my journey. My eyes were opened up to a world of online business women taking control of their own careers and showing me how I could do it too. I was amazed at first, delighted to have so much information available to me. I was a little bit like a deer caught in headlights when it came to the actual 'business' side of my business, you see.
The issue, I've come to realise six months on, is that you become the ideal target for every solopreneur ad going. Now I literally can't log in to Facebook without being bombarded by people trying to sell me services that'll 'revolutionise' my business.
And the worst part? I've been sucked in. I've spent days that were supposed to be dedicated to, y'know, finding new clients so I can pay my bills and put food in my body, trying to follow this advice.
Now I'm all for pushing myself to a harder place and lord knows my business model still has a long way to go before it's anything like where I want it to be. But (and it's a big but) all that's really happened is I've been going round in circles. I start following the advice of one 'guru' only to find conflicting advice from another and begin the whole process again. So you could say I'm feeling pretty bloody counterproductive.
Things I hadn't even considered way back when I quit my job are now things spent hours deliberating. 'Ah, I'm failing because I'm not running a six figure course. Shit, best brainstorm one' and 'oh, she said the key to a successful business is being a coach, maybe I should try that?' are just a few things I've found myself thinking. And it has to stop. Why? Because, quite frankly, I'm absolutely fed up of my own thoughts. And also, I don't want to be a coach because, y'know, I'm a writer.
In an attempt to stop myself wasting more time on a business model that will never be 'me', I've developed some strategies for combatting what I'm now calling 'business information overwhelm'. I reckon I'm probably not the only freelancer who's ended up in this black hole, so I thought I'd share them here.
1. Choose three people to follow and ignore the rest of the noise
This is literally the single best thing I've done. I don't mean you have to remove everyone else from your Twitter and your life, but you do have to reduce the number of blogs you read on the regular. In my journey of following maybe 100 (I wish I was kidding) blogs dedicated to helping make my solo business fly, there's probably three that have provided me with information that I've genuinely found useful. And by that I mean, given me actionable steps that I've followed and that have actually pushed my business to a better place.
So now I just check those people's blogs on the regular and, for the most part, ignore everything else. If you're interested in who those people are: Bianca Bass, Wonderlass and ByRegina. They are all angels and you should definitely follow them too.
2. Find the unsubscribe button
If you're anything like me, in the beginning, you'll have joined a million mailing lists to get your hands on exclusive free content. Some things will have been worth it, the online business road map from Wonderlass is one of them, some not so much.
What's left behind is an inbox bursting with emails trying to sell you things you never knew you needed. You probably don't read most of them, I know I don't. So have a clear out. Keep the ones you genuinely find helpful and unsubscribe to the rest. You're doing both you and the business owner a favour.
3. Don't spend money until I'm 100% sure
One of the greatest mistakes I made in the beginning, was signing up to courses and downloading e-books that promised to get me started on the right path. I can, hand on heart, say I never finished any of them. It could just be because I have a terrible attention span but I think it was because they weren't all that helpful for me. I should have researched more, I should have discounted things that included modules of stuff I already knew and I should have taken my own path first.
I've got my eyes on a course that I quite want to take now, but I'm biding my time, sticking it on a Trello board and waiting until the time is right to take it. If I could give advice to 6 months ago me, that would be it.
4. Time-limit my Twitter browsing
Twitter is probably the reason I've spent so much time down the rabbit hole. I see the links and I just can't help but click on them. Don't get me wrong, Twitter is great, but I have to use it in moderation if I have any hope of getting shit done. I try and allocate certain times throughout the day for 10 minutes of browsing. Not only does it give me time back, but it also means I'm more selective with what I read.
It's really easy to think you need to click on every link going to soak up all of the information but you don't. Find what's important to your goals on that particular day and go with it. When I'm working on something and a Twitter stalk takes me somewhere else, I can never quite get my motivation back.
I hope this post hasn't come across as mean spirited towards those content creators writing Facebook ads and revolutionising businesses. I know there's a lot of amazing women out there doing just that and doing it really, really well. It's just become a bit of an oversaturated market that can cause more damage than good if you let it. As a fairly new online business owner, these things have really helped me to block out the noise and focus on doing what's best for me and my future and I hope they help you too.
Have you found yourself suffering from business information overwhelm? What strategies do you use to combat it?