Excuses are sneaky things. Sure, some of them are loud and whiny. But there are plenty of others whom you might mistake for good reasons, simply because they appear that way: They report for duty in fitted suits and fine shoes, freshly shaved and coiffed. Their job? To provide perfectly sound and logical responses to the question you keep thinking about: “Why haven’t I”—written my blog, pitched that editor, made a bigger effort to get in front of people.
Your excuses, disguised as “reasons,” have responses ready: The time isn’t right. You’re not ready. You should wait until you have more money or whiter teeth or more information.
These guys work hard—on the wrong things. It’s time to lay them all off.
Why? Because the reasons that you pay a lot of time and attention to are actually keeping you from your real goals: To stand out, step up, to speak out and get yourself heard.
I happen to know a few of these by name—I’ve caught them wasting my time too. It’s time to purge them from your mental workforce so you can recruit more effort for the things you want to achieve. Let’s tear the masks off these three in particular, Scooby Doo style.
Excuse #1: “I’m not an expert.”
In fact, you are an expert—not on everything, and probably not the only expert in the world or in your industry. But you absolutely are an expert in what you do. You likely assume other people know what you do. You would be wrong.
You underestimate what you know and how valuable it can be to others. If you spend your life keeping the books or planning parties or training dogs, you have an opinion about how to do it well. That means that you’re in a position to not just run your business, but to speak, write or contribute in the media as an expert on that topic. It’s true! You’re pretty driven by what you do and whom you help. Wouldn’t it be amazing to reach more people that way? Of course it would.
Excuse #2: I’m just a small business. No one’s looking for me.
You could run a brand-less business (see: the corner deli on my street) where you just take money and provide a service and keep it purely transactional.
But the reason you’re even reading this is because you want your brand, your work, to mean something. And for your brand to mean something, you need to stand for something, but also, have a reason why you do it, and communicate it to the people who need it most.
Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you should think small. But bigger does not mean “broader”—bigger means seeing the many other ways in which what you do matters to someone else. Find it and lean into it. (Here’s a post I did on how you know you’re having a brand crisis.)
Excuse #3: I need to do more research on the right software/platform/etc.
You might think a fear of tech and learning new tools would stop you cold. And it can. I knew an incredibly bright woman who wanted to start a podcast but was completely hung up over the tech. Paula and I showed her exactly what mic to get and we physically plugged it in for her and walked her through it. She couldn’t believe how easy it was.
But a love of tech can slow you up, too, because then you spend all this time researching instead of doing. One guy on FB was dithering over the right email platform because he hadn’t written to his list and wanted to.
I called him out on it, and said that he needed to just go with the one that seemed simplest and most appealing, the subtleties of functionality didn’t matter. He could always switch as his needs changed, but if he was already behind on his goal to connect with his readers in a meaningful way, it actually doesn’t matter which one he used right now. One lady disagreed with me and I called her out, too. Because I can get feisty on Facebook, and I also thought she was adding fuel to his perfectionist fire.
So whether you love tech and research, or loathe it all, do not let it stand between you and the people you want to reach.
Seth Godin says that perfectionism is a way of hiding.
Rather than waste time shopping for the right platform or tool, he says, you should shop for commitment, because that’s what you need right now. Boom.
It’s time for you to be committed less to your excuses and more to the brand you want to build. The world is waiting.
Terri Trespicio is the co-creator of Lights Camera Expert, a six-week program that teaches experts, authors, entrepreneurs how to get, and keep, media attention. Visit her at territrespicio.com.