Don’t Let Perfectionism Ruin Your Startup Business

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John Henry Newman said, “A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault”. Anne Wilson Schaef said, ”Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order” yet somebody else said, “practice makes perfect”. What does the young or inexperienced entrepreneur have to learn from these notable quotes? The answer may not be what you think.

Are you a self proclaimed perfectionist? Many people say, with pride, that they are a perfectionist or a type A personality or even anal-retentive. One person said this about perfectionism: “The biggest problem – and the irony – is that perfectionism creates stress and stress shuts down the quality of our thinking and reduces our creativity and resourcefulness.”

If you are a self proclaimed perfectionist, according to Myers-Briggs, the author of the famous personality test, you probably aren’t as much of a perfectionist as you think but just in case, this could be your downfall if you’re an up and coming entrepreneur.

The problem that many entrepreneurs or idea makers have met up with is that perfect slows production. In the software development field, for example, one manifestation of this is called feature creep. Feature creep refers to the act of putting in to the software one more feature to make it even more appealing to customers.

The problem, of course, is that with that one new feature, it has to be developed, tested, documentation written for it, and, once again, put in front of a focus group. This slows down delivery of the final product and if the engineers aren’t careful, they will have spent so much time trying to achieve perfection that their competitors brought a similar product to market first. In this case, perfectionism was a costly business decision.

How many great ideas do you have that could be successful businesses? Business author Barbara Pacher came up with the 92% rule to combat the ills of perfectionism. She advises business owners to strive for 92% perfect. Why? Because any successful business will have a management team who believes in attention to detail but waiting for a product to be perfect will never allow it to come to market and if it isn’t in front of the public, no money can be made on it. 92% still allows for a healthy attention to detail but doesn’t cripple your business growth because of perfectionism.

What does your feature creep look like? Do you have a great idea for a business but you just don’t think it’s ready yet? What will make it ready and when will you take the next step? Don’t let a great idea sit on a computer hard drive or in your mind until you get all of the bugs worked out. Often, the public doesn’t even notice the small problems.

Focus on the big picture. If your product or service addresses a need that could make your customers’ lives easier, the small problems are manageable. A great idea that doesn’t leave your computer isn’t a great idea at all.