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Why Being a Perfectionist is Bad for Your Business

By , July 17, 2019

If you’re so absorbed in trying to perfect a certain product or process in your business, then you are missing a crucial element that no business can survive without.

Do you ever sit for hours (or days or months) tweaking something—a product, an email, an article, a presentation—but no matter how many times you think it’s final, there’s always “just one more thing” to change? It’s a familiar struggle for so many of us, but it’s costing much more than our sanity.

I was speaking to a business owner whose team was having trouble getting an important project off the ground. When I asked him to explain further, he proceeded to tell me that every time they were about to launch, he would find something that needed to be added, removed, or changed, and would have the team go back to fix it. Then something else would crop up. The cycle went around and around, with everyone feeling frustrated. When they finally were ready to launch, their competitor had just come out with a similar product.

This business owner assumed the problem was with his team, but the actual issue was his leadership. Many leaders, including myself, are naturally pulled toward the dangerous, addictive, time-sucking trap of perfectionism. But perfectionism comes with enormous costs. Not only does it diminish your productivity, team morale, and profits, but the value of your product or service suffers.

Why? Because if you’re so absorbed in trying to perfect a certain product or process in your business, then you are missing a crucial element that no business can survive without: feedback.

Sometimes we forget that business is a two-sided relationship. When you provide value to your customers, they will reciprocate with quality feedback if you let them. In fact, launching a less-than-perfect product and welcoming your customers’ constructive opinion always results in a beautiful win-win: You get to improve your product or service next time around, and your customers feel heard, understood, and more connected to your brand’s story.

So here are Ptex Practical Pointers for overcoming perfectionism in yourself and your team so that your business can thrive.

1. Version one is better than version none.

Hang this up on your wall. Post in on social media. Repeat it as your daily mantra. As long as something’s not done, nobody can benefit from it. You’re actually hurting your audience by delaying something because you’re trying to perfect it! They want it done much more than they want it perfect.

2. Don’t fear criticism. Welcome it.

Fear of criticism is a huge driver of perfectionism. Here’s a secret: the criticism will come no matter what you do. Rather than trying to avoid it, welcome it, encourage it, learn from it. And of course, implement it. Honest feedback is the only way to truly improve your offering and ensure you have happy customers who will come back again and again.

3. Focus on Creating Value

Stop wasting your energy making sure things are “just right” and instead, focus on the value you’re bringing to your audience. What makes this product valuable? I’m willing to bet it’s not the fact that it’s perfect, but rather because it is useful or meaningful to them in some way. Cast this clarity to your team so they understand the value of their work, and you’ll see incredible things start to happen.

I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes from Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn: “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

Throw out unrealistic expectations, throw out fear of criticism, throw out black-and-white thinking that says something is either “good” or “bad”. Instead, put out that imperfect product. Iterate fast and release often. Welcome feedback and criticism from well-meaning customers, and seek it out whenever and however you can. It will only make your business better and your customers happier.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Is perfectionism something you’ve struggled with? Did you find these tips helpful? Please comment below and let me know! I am sincerely interested in hearing and learning from you.

Meny Hoffman

Meny Hoffman is the Chief Executive Officer of Ptex Group, an Inc. 500/5000-ranked marketing and business services firm headquartered in Brooklyn, NY.

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