Why Perfection Is the Biggest Enemy for Startup Entrepreneurs

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People aren’t perfect. And in business, striving for perfection can lead to failure.

Perfection doesn’t allow room for mistakes. And it will limit you.

Trying to be the perfect entrepreneur means knowing the answers to everything before you launch your startup, including:

Some of these things are essential, but you don’t need to know all the answers before starting. Instead, you need room to make mistakes and test ideas.

It doesn’t help to spend months or years reading articles and books on being the “perfect entrepreneur.” That’s because you will learn more by doing, rather than by reading.

Here are six reasons why perfection is the worst enemy for entrepreneurs trying to launch or grow a startup:

1. You’ll learn more by doing than by reading

Failure chances are high when starting a new business, no matter how much you study and plan for it.

As an entrepreneur, you’ll encounter many unexpected problems, surprises, and situations.

But that’s okay because you can never prepare for everything.

The best entrepreneurs are lifelong learners. They use their lack of knowledge and experience as a bridge to learning the tricks and trades of their industry, developing fresh business ideas, finding a schedule that helps them create a work/life balance, and ultimately building a successful business.

From Steve Jobs to Jeff Bezos and others, every successful entrepreneur began with less-than-perfect information. They all had to learn while starting and growing their businesses.

For example, the founder of KFC, Col. Harland Sanders, started his business with zero culinary experience. Yet, his lack of experience did not hinder his great success. Over time, consistency, good quality products, and an understanding of his market helped create a successful fast-food franchise.

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2. You won’t have all the answers

There’s never a shortage of problems when running a business. Startup and small business owners and entrepreneurs must balance budgets, product and service quality, people, marketing, sales, financing, legal, accounting, etc.

And problems arise unexpectedly and happen even if you prepare for them.

This paralyzes some entrepreneurs. They think the more they learn, the better equipped they will be when facing problems. As a result, they spend years reading and thinking about their startups rather than launching them.

This is a mistake for several reasons.

First, you don’t always have to solve every problem when it appears. Sometimes, doing so isn’t the best solution.

Second, you don’t have to solve every problem. Hopefully, you’ll have an experienced team that can help you avoid problems and help you solve those you can’t avoid.

Finally, you will still face many problems even if you spend years preparing. Every successful business deals with issues daily.

You’ll learn more by starting and operating your business than you will learn by reading.

3. You can’t satisfy everyone

Many entrepreneurs make another common mistake: they try to satisfy everyone.

Their intention is good, but it’s impossible to make everyone happy. People have different preferences and needs, and you don’t have to make everyone happy to build a successful business.

When you try to make everyone happy, you make many compromises. As a result, you end up straying away from your original business goals and wasting valuable time and resources addressing broad needs.

Instead, identify your target market and create products and services many people love.

Even successful businesses can’t satisfy all their customers. Apple is one of the world’s most successful brands and dominates many markets. But some people hate Apple products.

Apple doesn’t try to compromise to make everyone happy. It continues to execute its strategy and accepts that it can’t satisfy everyone.

4. You can’t have everything when you’re just starting

Your startup isn’t going to have everything it needs from day one. You’ll have to wear many hats and do multiple things before you can start growing your team. And even then, you won’t have enough resources, time, and money.

But that doesn’t mean you can ignore doing certain things. For example, don’t wait to create a brand strategy and a strong brand identity for your startup until you have a high-growth business. You’ll never reach that stage if your visual identity looks like a fifth-grader created it or uses forgettable generic templates.

Similarly, don’t wait until you create perfect products or services before you start marketing and selling. You will never sell anything at all if that’s the case.

Start thinking about marketing and sales long before you create products and services.

Every successful company started small. They initially lacked big budgets, strong teams, dedicated marketers, a well-known brand, etc.

But each of their founders found a path forward. You can too.

5. You can’t do everything by yourself

Most people do a poor job delegating tasks to others. We want things to be done perfectly and are often biased to believe only we can do something well.

But this is generally not true. First, most people have excellent skills in certain areas but are mediocre in others. Second, while you may have to do many things when you start your company, this isn’t sustainable in the long run. Delegation is crucial for the health of your business.

Doing everything by yourself burns you out fast and sets you back. And it’s an easy way to become frustrated, lost, compromise your health, and lose your passion.

As an entrepreneur, it’s understandable that you must initially do everything by yourself. Still, you should learn to delegate tasks effectively, hire highly productive people, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when necessary.

6. You can’t learn everything you need to know before starting

The fun part about starting a small business or anything new is the journey and the many lessons you learn along the way.

The best and most successful entrepreneurs have endured unimaginable hardships to succeed. But even when they become successful, all entrepreneurs acknowledge that they don’t have all the answers.

For example, WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum started a cleaning job at a grocery at 16 after moving from Ukraine to California. He did not have any proper education but taught himself programming. He caught the attention of Yahoo! and worked at the company for nine years as an infrastructure engineer. Later, he founded WhatsApp along with Brian Acton.

Had they waited to learn everything they needed before starting WhatsApp, Koum, and Acton would not have built a successful business purchased by Facebook for $19 billion.

So, start with what you know today, and never compare your day 1 to someone’s day 500. Trust in your skills and knowledge that your hard work will soon bear fruit. Also, sometimes you may need to rely on partners. For example, if you excel at sales and marketing but not engineering, you may need to find a technical co-founder if you’re building a tech startup.

5 tips to help you build a successful startup

Here are five things you can do to overcome the challenges you’ll face when trying to build a successful startup:

1.     Surround yourself with good people

You can’t push through the complex process as an entrepreneur if you aren’t surrounded by the best people. Surround yourself with people who respect and support what you do and push you always to do better.

2.     Action is better than inaction

You can plan everything about your business to the tee, but ultimately, your actions will determine its course. So, don’t overthink it and just do it.

Start where you are, be prepared to learn from setbacks, and celebrate small wins. Trust in the process. If you put in the work, it will indeed show.

3.     Never compromise your health

As the saying goes, “health is wealth.”

You could work the whole day, but without a clear and fresh mind to think, you could compromise your health and, ultimately, your business. So, make sure to rest, eat healthily, make time for recreation, build mental resilience, and find a good balance between life and work.

4.     Build a great team

You cannot build an empire without the right people to help make it. A great team will not only help your business prosper but also inspire you. Hire people who have not only the skills but also strong moral values.

5.     Have daily attainable goals

Set daily achievable and realistic goals that help you and your team achieve your business goals.

Ask yourself at the end of the day:

  • Was I able to achieve my main goal today?
  • Was I able to apply what I head learned yesterday?
  • What steps can I take to be closer to my next goal?

Perfect is the enemy of progress. Allow yourself to be human and focus your time and energy on executing aggressive but realistic goals for your business.

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