The Dreaded Perfect Entrepreneur

The Dreaded Perfect Entrepreneur

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers

“Perfect is the enemy of good” is a quote usually attributed to Voltaire. He actually wrote that the “best is the enemy of the good” (il meglio è nemico del bene) and cited it as an old Italian proverb in 1770, but the phrase was translated into English as “perfect” and made its way into common parlance in that form.

Perfectionism is a problem. Here are some reasons why.

  1. It drives other people you interact with, who are not perfectionists, crazy
  2. We live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world where there is no definition of perfect. There are only solutions we test until we find out whether they work or not and then change if they don’t.
  3. Defining something as perfect is a value judgement, not an absolute, Perfection is a pipe dream. As Psychology Today explained, “‘perfect’ may exist as a concept,” but it’s not a reality. After all, its definition is entirely subjective. “Achieving perfection” is entirely a judgment call, depending on who’s trying to achieve it and who’s watching.
  4. It could be a symptom of a more serious psychiatric problem like obsessive-compulsive disorder which is a personality disorder characterized by excessive orderliness, perfectionism, attention to details, and a need for control in relating to others. It is one of many entrepreneurial syndromes that are characterized by entrepreneurial psychopathologies
  5. Meeting the expectations of others to be perfect is bad for your mental health. It will make you unhappy.
  6. There is reason why the Golden Mean has been around for several thousand years
  7. Innovation starts with mindset Being a perfectionist is not consistent with revising the “good” with evidence based business idea testing results
  8. There are reasons why we say doctors, actors, athletes, lawyers, entrepreneurs and other service providers practice their craft. You never get it perfect, even if someone gives you a 10, or a Facebook like or an Oscar for your performance. There is always room for improvement, but almost never perfection. Failure is part of the drill and inevitable. What’s on your failure resume? That’s why, when it comes tapping into a source of entrepreneurial internal motivation, you should make it personal, but don’t take it personally.
  9. The goal of making something perfect or doing something perfectly will get in the way of starting something, like:
  • Business Idea: Instead of waiting until you have a complete airtight business plan, simply start your business.
  • Software: Instead of ironing out every last bug, release your beta.
  • Products: Instead of adding every conceivable improvement and feature, ship your product. Release improvements later.
  • Health: Instead of finding the right gym, selecting the right outfit and picking the right workout, just go for a walk.
  • Website: Instead of finding the best server, CMS, theme, appearance and font, just get a landing page up and start selling.
  • Email: Instead of trying to create a well-written and grammatically impeccable email, just get the message out and click “send.”
  • Value proposition and business model canvas: Define your underlying assumptions and validate them with evidence. It’s called minimal viable product, not perfect product, for a reason.

10. Underbidding everyone by making something “good enough for government work” and then submitting endless add-ons leading to cost overruns is a tried and true profitable business model and there is little or no chance you will go to jail or get fired doing it.

If you want to know how to get to Carnegie Hall, it’s just easier to practice, practice, practice and focus on the journey, not the destination.

Image credit: Pixabay

About Arlen Meyers

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is an emeritus professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, an instructor at the University of Colorado-Denver Business School and cofounding President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org. Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ameyers/
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