People can’t buy something that isn’t out there, and you can’t improve on a product before you have a chance to experience its failings from firsthand use by your customers.

Why Perfectionist Entrepreneurs Fail to Thrive

By Andrea Jacques
In November 12, 2015

Impatient entrepreneurs may fall on their face due to lack of planning or research, but perfectionist entrepreneurs often don’t even get off the starting blocks.

Diving headlong into perceived opportunities with reckless abandon results in a lot of emptied bank accounts and bruised egos, but waiting for the stars to align (and your Master’s degree and your kids to grow up and your hair to grow longer) can be equally dangerous.

Why?

Because it can result in a whole lot of… well… nothing.

When you wait for everything to be perfect before you launch, you’re almost certainly missing opportunities. Opportunities to sell, sure, but also opportunities to build recognition in the market and build systems for later success. You’re also missing opportunities to fail and learn from your mistakes. (As an entrepreneur, you will be doing a lot of that no matter how much you prepare. We promise.) Many businesses that look great on paper crumble under the uncertainties of the real world.

A perfect product is definitely a strong selling proposition. But it’s not the only selling proposition. It is not always the best product that gets the largest market share – it’s often the one that’s easiest to use, backed by the best customer support, or most effectively promoted.

Effective promotion can involve meeting aggressive deadlines to get your product to the market first (before your potential customers have already solved their problem with a product from their competitors). After all, once a consumer is happy with a good-enough solution, there’s a good deal of inertia involved in switching. In short, people can’t buy something that isn’t out there, and you can’t improve on a product before you have a chance to experience its failings from firsthand use by your customers.

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Perfectionist entrepreneurs also tend to be more reluctant (aka stubborn) about switching strategies mid-stream. When you’ve worked hard to ensure that everything is perfect before executing, any change required from an external source (or suggestion that there is something you overlooked) is harder to deal with.

Don’t get me wrong: a focus on excellence and quality is an important element of business success, but it needs to be balanced with the understanding of when speed needs to take precedence. Sometimes getting any result fast is going to be more useful in growing business than trying to land on the perfect strategy right out of the gates. Marketing strategies are a perfect example of this. You can read and research until the cows come home to try to devise the perfect marketing strategy, but at the end of the day the best way to figure out what works is to start doing something.

Afraid you might be falling into the perfectionism trap? We’ll discuss ways out of it next week on the Kyosei Coaching blog.

To read more about how to avoid dangerous mindsets and build a successful startup, check out our ebook The Seven Sins of a Startup, available for download here.