If you find yourself stuck in your business by searching for the perfect idea, trade name, people, solution, customer, timing or go to market sequence, you may be a perfectionist. Producing high quality products and services that hit a home run in the market should be the goal of every business owner and entrepreneur. However, regardless of any assumptions you make, no matter how perfect, reality will cause your perfect ideas and plans to change. The result is an imperfect solution, an imperfect customer experience and an imperfect business model.
A goal of the business is to delight customers with products that serve essential needs to enable new capabilities within their business or to entertain them sufficiently that they will continue to buy and recommend you to others. Financially, this goal aims to generate sales and profits, which further support and sustain the continued growth of the business, despite all of its imperfections. Perfectionists must learn to manage the balance between getting a product to market effectively and making it perfect.
To a true perfectionist, releasing a product before it is perfect will require him/her to make compromises that will reflect poorly on its quality. That is where the balancing act comes in to play. Ultimately, it makes no sense to attempt to produce a perfect product if nobody is going to buy it. Let the customer become the ultimate judge of what is perfect after they buy your product. Many successful products were launched into the marketplace that were, in their initial release, quite inadequate when measured against existing, expensive, full-featured alternatives. However, what these products offered was a simple solution to a specific problem at a very low cost. The solution was by no means perfect, but for the customer, it was perfect enough. The manufacturer then had the ability to add functionality over time with the support of an entirely new customer base that was poorly served by the existing expensive solutions.
One important step in making the shift to a more pragmatic approach is to stop procrastinating and frantically tapping away at your computer mouse while you search for the perfect solution. Write a plan based on whatever you first thought of producing and stay focused on executing that plan. Your initial instincts were usually quite good at aligning the solution with the opportunity – before all the second-guessing and perfectionist revisions entered the scene. Writing a plan helps to take your creativity out of your head and provide a structured reference for your own thinking and to help others align with the plan. Learning to execute a new business or product takes practice, as with any other discipline. Attempting to be perfect without practice is simply dreaming.
When you finally prepare for the launch phase, be prepared to rewrite the plan with the support of team members who specialize in going to market, business development and promotions. Don’t let their input frustrate you. Instead, take time away from the plan and you’ll find each time you return to it you will have a fresh perspective and the process will improve greatly. The other people will have quite different views of perfection than you do and that’s a good thing. Either they will give you constructive suggestions to improve it, or they will tell you it is great in spite of your tendency to want to keep on polishing. Through this process, remain focused on your original vision and choose the best pragmatic path forward – to market.
The other balance that perfectionists must learn to maintain is the balance between work and life. Don’t become a hermit in your pursuit of your perfect dream. Take time to engage fully with your family, friends and nature. That time and the experiences you will gain from it will recharge your batteries and provide the fuel to help you think more clearly, when you return to your business. Family memories come and go only once. You can choose to miss them completely and never have those memories, or you can choose to have a rich memory bank of relationships that were dear to you.
If you are relatively new to starting a business, don’t be too hard on yourself. Developing and launching business is a wonderfully creative process and you can’t be very creative if you’re not having fun. Enjoy the process and maintain a positive outlook and you will find the creativity will be there. You have great ideas in search of happy customers. Get them out of you so others can enjoy them. It all comes down to balance: the balance between work, play and perfectionism. Focus on balancing the first two and the third will take care of itself.