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Your Periodic Reminder That Perfectionism Doesn’t Pay

by Tara Gentile
money & life

One of my favorite books about business is a book on writing:

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.” — Anne Lamott

When I think about the difference between people who love running their businesses–overtime, cash-flow crunches, warts and all–and people who worry, slog through, and ultimately start to give up…

…it’s this ability to give up on perfectionism and create a shitty first draft.

You see, great products or services rarely start off as polished, complete, or even especially spectacular.

It can be hard to remember that when you probably see other business owners launching polished, complete, spectacular, and seemingly perfect offers all around you.

What we all forget from time to time is the unpolished, incomplete, and sometimes lackluster work that goes into making something a blockbuster.

It’s that crappy, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants first attempt that puts the ball in motion.

The barrier to entry for a great product is much lower than it probably seems. You don’t need all the bells and whistles, the overwhelming launch plan, or the glamorous website to be well on your way to new product success.

Most importantly, you don’t actually know whether you have the makings of a great product or service until you’ve sold it.

So the faster you can take a new offer to market the better. The sooner you make your first sale, the greater your chances are of success.

The more you learn to enjoy and embrace this part of the process, the more you’ll love your business.

Take Marie Poulin and her success with both Digital Strategy School and her software product, Doki. Before Digital Strategy School was born, Marie frequented a number of Facebook groups where other web designers hung out. She often had answers to the questions they asked about their process, clients, and general business challenges.

Eventually, it dawned on her that she could fill in a lot of gaps for the designers who were looking to take their businesses to the next level. She made a post offering help in the form of a “beta version” of a program. The response was resounding. Digital Strategy School was born based on the questions, challenges, and needs of that initial group of people who expressed interest.

Their participation formed the curriculum. Their challenges created the system.

Similarly, Doki, a software program for building and selling online courses came from real discourse with potential customers. Marie, and her co-founder Ben Borowski, heard digital business owners griping about the problems with other software platforms. They weren’t designed to meet their needs and they were hard to use.

Marie and Ben designed Doki to meet these objections first. They didn’t try to make the software do everything it would eventually need to do. It aimed to take care of the things the people they were aiming to please really cared about. Everything else was secondary.

While Marie told me that they didn’t want to release a bad MVP–minimum viable product–but they did want to focus on the basics instead of the bells & whistles.

You can set the bar lower if you focus on the right things.

No one wants to put out a product that is truly embarrassing. And you don’t want to deal with complaints about a product that you’ve merely slapped together.

Focus on the right things–fixing problems that exist in other products, meeting the exact needs of your target customers, building a product to achieve a particular outcome–instead of trying to impress yourself or anyone else with the perfection of your product. You’ll earn more, faster.

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Tara Gentile

Tara Gentile is a creativeLIVE instructor, business strategist, and the creator of the Customer Perspective Process.