Becoming an entrepreneur is an exciting adventure. With that first-time excitement also come a lot of lessons to learn. One thing new entrepreneurs struggle with is wanting to be in tight control of every detail in order to try and get every single facet perfect before moving on to the next step.
However, this kind of approach can delay the release of your product, as well as significantly damage your business. So, as a first-time entrepreneur, how can you overcome your perfectionist tendencies and stop obsessing over every part of your new business?
Below, nine members of YEC Next discuss several ways to overcome first-time entrepreneurial obsessions in order to make way for success.
1. Accept That Perfection Is Unattainable
There’s a famous quote from Reid Hoffman, the Founder of LinkedIn, that goes something like “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” I think this illustrates a very important point. Perfection is unattainable. If you obsess over trying to attain perfection in various parts of your business, you’ll be wasting valuable time and resources that could be spent making other areas great. There will always be room for improvement, but recognize that and move on to whatever is going to have the biggest impact in your business, rather than spinning your wheels trying to make things perfect. – Robert Swisher, Frendli
2. Have A Short- And Long-Term Plan
The best way would be to have a short- and long-term plan in place. Make a plan to launch (i.e. start bringing money in) with a small selection of core processes identified, rolled out and followed by all (i.e. what are the 20% that will bring in 80% of the value). You will gain immeasurably more value from at least having those processes in place, than only having a couple in place that are perfect. Phase two can then include making those initial processes better, and also including new processes that can bring value to the business. Having a planned roll-out can help, and even a perfectionist understands that this will drive the greatest ROI. You can improve things over time to work toward perfection. – Ryan Meghdies, Tastic Marketing Inc.
3. Outsource Whenever Possible
First of all, you cannot do it all. Your work is like a piece of art: There will always be enhancements which could have been made. To stay abreast of changing environments will always require improvements. At our company, any task that is temporary, routine or less expensive to have someone out of the office complete, we outsource. We have found that to be most beneficial, because we get an outsider’s perspective on how to improve and gather insider feedback all at the same time. This enables me to perfect what we do best, to the extent that is possible, and delegate to others what they are best at. This way it is less overwhelming and more efficient. – Jessica Baker, Aligned Signs
4. Know Your Strengths
It’s important to recognize your strengths and your weaknesses. That way you can maintain your perfectionist tendencies in regard to your strengths, while trusting skilled others to execute tasks outside of your skillset. Employees will come to you if they have questions, but trust them to complete and execute tasks that don’t align with your skills. – Kyle Wiggins, Keteka
5. Make Your Due Dates Public
Set a due date and use people to hold you accountable for it. I spent 18 months writing a book and I kept rewriting it to make it perfect. But, it was stopping me from pushing it live. Finally, I set a launch date and emailed my entire list about it. By setting a date and telling people about it, it put necessary pressure on me to get this book ready for launch. I was able to hit the due date because people were asking me when it would be ready. – Jim Huffman, Growthhit
6. Focus On Perfecting The Product
Perfection is both important and dangerous. At the end of the day, it’s about the product and service. The product is what brings in the business at the end of the day. Focus intensely on perfecting the product, but launch early when it provides enough value, and then iterate later. If the product is what people love, everything else is easier — such as recruiting and marketing — because customers will be knocking and revenue will grow. As long as you’re not spending above your means, the rest of business operations may be less perfect and efficient, but those can be optimized over time. Having a sloppy product will, for sure, kill your business. – James Hu, Jobscan
7. Pull Back The Curtain
It’s important to recognize that when a project, goal or deadline is anything less than 100% finished, it’s 0% done. Practically speaking, there is no such thing as a half-finished project. Partially finished work doesn’t pay the bills. If you want anyone to benefit from the fruits of your labor, you have to be willing to pull back the curtain and let people start interacting with (and giving their feedback on) your work. This is when you’ll start hearing real feedback from the customers who are using it, and you’ll learn about the improvements that actually make a difference. Don’t forget, the world is full of imperfect products that have earned (and continue to earn) billions every year, with customers who are (mostly) satisfied and continue to buy. – Seth Williams, REtipster Publishing LLC
8. Favor Speed To Market
As a Gen Xer and designer by trade, I was trained to never let anything out the door unless it was perfect. Getting comfortable with not having everything being “ready” before moving forward was the hardest behavior I had to adopt in becoming an entrepreneur. However, speed to market is what wins. An idea half-baked, but in the market first, will have that much more time to perfect a product over a competitor, and using market feedback to guide those efforts is priceless. I recommend that as entrepreneurs, we should look at perfection as the holy grail — the goal that we continuously strive to reach, but never quite attain. Find comfort in knowing that your journey toward perfection is the reason you’re an entrepreneur, and let discovery be the reward. You’ll enjoy the ride a lot more. – Marcus Jimenez, Breefly
9. Perfect An 80/20 Focus
Wanting to micromanage everything to absolute perfection is typical for many first-time entrepreneurs, but you soon realize perfection is impossible. The only thing you should try perfecting is an 80/20 focus. When I started my agency, I was obsessed with personally perfecting everything. This not only drove me slightly insane, it also slowed company growth because I couldn’t focus on new business development or leadership. I revisit a few books every year, and The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch is one of them. It helped me get past the perfectionist stage, and focus on my most important roles as an entrepreneur, such as guiding the overall direction of the company and finding top talent. – Ron Lieback, ContentMender