The Danger of Overextending

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Too many fingers and too many pies.

There comes a time when you stop for a second and find yourself firing on all pistons. Things are moving along according to plan and your spirits are up. It is a great feeling! You begin to think that at this pace you can not only taste success, but you can finally get started on your next project or two.

This very thing happened to me last year. Summer was around the corner and some recent problems had ingeniously been solved through some creative thinking on my part. That’s right, things were finally coming together. I had my business ready for the busy season and my full time school was going well. Things with the new baby were finally calming down after 9 months of sleepless hell. I felt like I could tackle anything.

And so I tried.

Like all serial entrepreneurs, I had a running list of at least 20 businesses I would like to start working on. I began working harder on our nonprofit venture that allows employees to, in essence, cash out their Paid Time Benefits (sick and vacation time) and then gift them to the nonprofit of their choice. I STILL felt like I had immense energy and time. So I began to start yet another venture with my neighbor. She had previously owned an amazing store by the name of Rad Betty’s which sold top notch retro clothing. I loved the name and hated to see her store not have a chance to reach it’s full potential. I had already on my own time envisioned a chain of retail stores that focused on everything that younger girls love to do – writing, photography, clothing, clothing design/sewing, etsy-like arts/crafts, etc. These retail stores would mainly act as community centers for groups that focused on the needs of women. It would have larger rooms for groups such as ‘Stitch & Bitch’, Reno Roller Girls, etc. to meet in. Basically it would serve as a center for everything young females would need.

Because everything was so easy at this time, I approached her over the idea of resurrecting her brand and giving it all another try. I spent one day a week for that month investing in realizing the idea with her. And then everything came crashing down.

My first business hit a rough patch. My second business – the nonprofit – ran out of steam and the ‘team’ began limping away from the project. Family life seemed to get bogged down. Time became valuable and I had to start pulling my fingers out of all the pies I had them in. This meant dropping the Rad Betty project. I felt horrible for abandoning my neighbor but I could no longer juggle everything.

Later on, I read a small digital book published by Mark Cuban. He devoted an entire chapter imploring the reader to focus on no more than two or three projects. I was, by this time, completely convinced. If you ever find yourself in that ‘zone’ with all pistons firing and you feel like you can tackle the world, take my advice. Use the time to finish the projects you are working on. Use the time to catch up on the things you have let go. Over extending yourself inevitably leads to a tremendous waste of your time (if not the time of others).

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Have you had an experience with over extending yourself? Do you carefully decide when you are spreading yourself too thin? How do you know when it is right to say ‘No.”? Let me know what you think.

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