Confessions of an ineffective executioner: A study in the process of starting and finishing (part 2)

Finishing. It’s a skill that I lack. I know I’m not alone. I think a lot of entrepreneurs are great starters. They’re dreamers, optimists, initiators. To hijack a financial term, entrepreneurs are bullish on the future.

I don’t know a lot of successful entrepreneurs who are great finishers. (They might be out there, I’ve just never definitely identified the trait).

HOW STARTERS START (BUT FAIL TO FINISH)

1. Founding entrepreneurs start something.

2. They move forward, inspired by the opportunity.

3. At some point, that inspiring project turns into a plodding effort.

Entrepreneurs then do one of the following things…

  1. They abandon the project
  2. They push forward alone and fail
  3. They push forward alone and finish but with something less than stellar success
  4. They push forward alone and win
  5. They bring someone else on board to help them

(Am I missing anything? I think those are the big ones).

Of these five options, options 1, 2, and 3 are highly likely among entrepreneurs who hold their projects close to them. Option 4 is the coveted, single-handed home-run. It’s also the rarest (because I believe entrepreneurs are great starters not necessarily great finishers). Option 5 is a good option, too, but it can be hard to find the right partnership (starters and finishers are focused on different things!) and it can be hard for an entrepreneur to hand off partial (or complete) control to someone who can take the project further.

I think entrepreneurs need to examine their skill-set, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and figure out what their tendencies are (abandon? push forward alone?). Then, they should consider the probability of each of the 5 potential courses of action in light of their tendencies and in light of the specific project. Last, they should mitigate their weaknesses in three ways:

  1. By establishing strict parameters and a step-by-step process for when the going gets rough.
  2. By identifying and increasing skills in finishing. (More on that in the next blog post in this series).
  3. By building relationships with great finishers and handing projects off to them.

THE FINISH-WHAT-YOU-START CHALLENGE

In the last blog post I introduced a finish-what-you-start challenge. I listed 14 projects I have to complete in the next 10 days and I’m sharing them here with you. I’ll cross them off as I go through them.

The projects I’m working on are…

  1. Finish an ebook for a real estate investor about investing in empty land
  2. Finish an ebook for a real estate investor about wholesale investing
  3. Finish an ebook for a real estate investor about marketing system
  4. Finish an ebook for a real estate investor about a real estate investing method he pioneered
  5. Finish a book for a debt repair expert
  6. Finish a sales letter for an internet marketing company
  7. Finish a sales letter for a health and fitness company
  8. Finish a sales letter for a social media marketing firm
  9. Finish 100 articles for an income trust client
  10. ((Rescheduled by client: Finish a report and autoresponders for video marketing site))

So I’ve finished 2 (indicated by the crossed off projects) and one of them was rescheduled by a client (indicated by the parentheses).

As for the rest of the projects, I’ve moved a few of them forward beyond what I’ve crossed off, and I still have other projects not listed that I’m completing as part of my regular business… but Yikes! It looks like I’m falling far behind. Time to crank it up even more!

What I’m working on this week (May 28 – June 1)

This week, I’m continuing to rock through old projects that I desperately want completed so I can focus on the big pile of new work that is just waiting for me as a reward. My goal is to get started on a bunch of the new stuff at the end of the week, which means I need to wrap up everything else before then.

I’m also making some interesting tweaks on my business. I used to run most of my marketing through this site (AaronHoos.com) as a financial and real estate freelance writer. My business is evolving a bit — I still do financial and real estate freelance writing but I’m working on a book and a couple of the other projects that will reduce the amount of freelance ghostwriting I do. That changes this site from my primary marketing channel to a sort-of “hub” of my online brand. I’m really excited about what opportunities await in the months ahead!

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Confessions of an ineffective executioner: Why it’s so hard to finish what you start (part 1)

I love dreaming up new ideas.

I love starting things.

My mind is always brimming with things I want to try.

A torrent of ideas is helpful in my line of work. And when I can get those ideas down fast, act on them fast, and see results… I’m a happy writer.

The problem is, not everything goes from start-to-finish in an hour or an afternoon. Sometimes they take longer: An idea might not be fully formed for a few days or weeks. Then the execution of that idea might take even longer — days or weeks or even months.

And that’s when the challenges start: Newer ideas eclipse the old ones. More pressing demands from clients push older stagnant client work aside. The exciting opportunity to create is so much more tempting than the apparent drudgery of managing the details.

But those details won’t take care of themselves. That book won’t get written, that website won’t get built, that business won’t become prosperous unless you roll up your sleeves and actually slog through the hardest part no matter how tedious it seems and no matter how much more exciting other things are.

I confess: I’m a great starter but not a great finisher. I’m an ineffective executioner.

I know I’m not alone. I know there are MANY other entrepreneurs and investors out there who face the same thing I do. I know this because my clients have told me. (In fact, I’m often hired because a client started something that they couldn’t finish.) And some of the clients for whom I finish work simply let that work collect dust because they’ve moved on to something else, too.

Starting is fast. And exciting. And creative. And when something is fast and exciting and creative, it’s almost easy.

But finishing is slow. It’s tedious. It’s detailed. And when something is slow, tedious, and detailed, it’s hard.

I’m a good starter and I suspect that maybe you are, too.

My work as a writer requires me to be a finisher. But I’m not a very good finisher. I confess that I struggle with finishing. I do it because I have to but I’m not great at it. I know I could do so much better.

So I’m issuing a challenge to myself and to you.

THE FINISH-WHAT-YOU-START CHALLENGE

Do you have any projects you’re struggling with finishing? I do. I have 14 projects I DESPERATELY want done. Some are overdue. Some are on-time. But I want them done and off my desk.

So here’s my challenge: There are 10 days (technically 10 and a half) between now and the end of May. And in that time, I want to finish 10 projects. I know it’s possible. But these are all half-done projects that now need some buckle-down-and-execute effort. I’m listing them below and I’m going to update each day (in a new blog post) how I do… along with tips and ideas about become a better finisher.

The projects I’m working on are…

  1. Finish an ebook for a real estate investor about investing in empty land
  2. Finish an ebook for a real estate investor about wholesale investing
  3. Finish an ebook for a real estate investor about marketing system
  4. Finish an ebook for a real estate investor about a real estate investing method he pioneered
  5. Finish a book for a debt repair expert
  6. Finish a sales letter for an internet marketing company
  7. Finish a sales letter for a health and fitness company
  8. Finish a sales letter for a social media marketing firm
  9. Finish 100 articles for an income trust client
  10. Finish a report and autoresponders for video marketing site

I have my work cut out for me in the next 10 days. There’s a lot of work here but I think it IS possible to complete this work. I’m going to put in some overtime (plus I do have some other regular keep-my-business-running commitments I still need to keep) but these are the projects I’m going to be working on in the next 10 days.

How about you? In the comments below — IF you’re bold enough!!! — why not list some of the work you need to complete in the next 10 days and participate with me in the challenge.

What I’m working on this week (May 21 – 26)

I’ve got some exciting projects coming up this week — both for clients and for my own business, too. Here are some highlights:

  • Wrapping up a sales letter for a client who licenses their marketing software to other agencies
  • Writing blog content for a stock picking site (this was a former client who put their blog on hold to develop other aspects of their business but started the site back up again)
  • Starting to market my HowToInvestTV website — a site that educates investors about various types of investments.
  • I’m also doing some work on a copywriting site I own.

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