Perfect is the enemy of good. Don’t let perfectionism control your business.

It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut of seeking perfection. But true perfection is never attainable. There’s always something else you could be doing to improve your work, but that’s not what’s important. 

What’s important is perfectionism is ruining your business ideas and leaving you stuck, where you could be flourishing. I know, I’ve seen it before – business owners spending needless hours on one task when they could have been progressing to something else.

Ironically, there is a perfect saying to capture this phenomenon: ‘perfect is the enemy of good’. It drags you down, distracting you from achieving good work while you chase an unattainable goal. 

Here’s some advice on overcoming the very human and totally natural drive for unattainable perfection in the business world, that I think everyone should know about. 

Focus on the process, not the result

The perfectionist in us feels the need to spend all its time and energy working toward a single ambitious goal. We picture the completed financial report or business plan and put all our effort into achieving it.

The problem with that is the perfect financial report, business plan etc doesn’t exist.

So the answer is to focus on the present and the process. Break things down into chunks and get them done, only returning for checking or editing at the end. Then, instead of getting hung up on every sentence or figure, you’ll be able to finish something that will improve your business. 

Giving yourself deadlines and sticking to them is an important part of focusing on the process. I can only really suggest working on your self-discipline here. 

But remember: if you were working for someone or making something for a client, would you push back the deadline over and over to deliver ‘perfect’ when they would be more than happy with ‘good’? If your answer is no, why put yourself and your own business through that?

Just go for it

Entrepreneurs are creative people. At least, they have to be if they want their business idea to be successful. But you shouldn’t be mulling over every trivial aspect of something, especially if doing so is delaying it.

Instead, have faith in yourself that your idea is solid. If that’s a business plan, get started. That way, you’ll be earning while ironing out the kinks. 

Likewise, instead of adding every conceivable improvement and feature to your product, start producing it now. You can add and release improvements later. 

This applies to so many aspects of business, all the way from your website build to simple emails to a supplier. You need to get out there – that’s the most important thing. 

Remember that there is a lot of support out there that can help you improve things after you’ve achieved ‘good’. No one can achieve ‘perfect’, but these experts will help you get close. 

So, contact a professional marketer for help with your marketing or a website designer to improve your website. In the meantime, I would, of course, be more than happy to help with the financial side of things. 

Focus on short term satisfaction

I think that we’ve been conditioned to believe we need to achieve some grand goal to feel a sense of achievement. Perhaps that’s why so many of us strive for perfection – we crave the pride we’ll feel after creating something perfect. 

However, that feeling probably won’t ever come. Instead, you’ll probably feel the need to keep going, certain that you can improve things here and there. 

That’s why you need to change the way you think about satisfaction. Rather than expecting ‘aha’ moments, for example, prepare yourself for gradual improvement, and recognise gradual improvement can also be satisfying.

Don’t wait for a rush of exhilaration that will never come – expect satisfaction to come over time.

Perhaps that feeling of pride will come when you look back on all the various projects you’ve been able to complete now that you’re no longer just looking for perfection!

My clients are more than numbers on a spreadsheet. To me, they’re people with real issues and concerns beyond regular accounting and business dilemmas. Get in touch to discuss whatever’s on your mind. 

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