7 Ways Perfection is Killing Your Business – or Is It 6?



Problems with Perfection: 7 Ways Perfection is Killing Your Business

Can we ever truly be perfect, in anything?  Possibly, but that perfection is often short-lived.  As a society, we are always seeking ‘perfection’, and as such, we are often quick to label something as perfect, even when it is not.  A perfect stranger, a perfect storm, a perfect match or a perfect crime perhaps.

But if striving for perfection is part of your business personality, it could be damaging your ability to reach the point of product or solution launch; therefore your problems with perfection could be harming your ability to innovate.

Heck, when I launched most of my blogs or businesses, they were a mess, but they got out there and generated the buzz and citations needed to succeed. SEJ, which after three years became a six figure blog, had a disastrous template design upon launch, but I needed to get it out there at the right time, and then be flexible and nimble enough to make changes. Now, it’s a leading influencer in the world of digital marketing.

If you are running your business trying to adhere to this impossible standard, then you may be in trouble.  

Here are seven problems with perfection that are killing your business.



Beware these Problems with Perfection

Makes You Slow to Market

In marketing strategy, there is an advantage known as FMA or first-mover advantage, where the first to market often gains a great initial advantage over competitors. Recent literature has suggested that that first-movers may be at a disadvantage, failing around 47 percent of the time, with ‘fast-followers’ (8 percent failure rate) being the real market winners because they can improve on newly launched products or services and reduce cost and inefficiencies.

No matter if you are first to market, or join slightly after, being one of the first is crucial to business success.  Unless you do something significantly different than any major competitor, and these are few and far between, then you must launch products or services effectively and efficiently.

Perfectionists often obsess over every minute detail, often delaying products and/or launches, which ultimately cause decreases in success metrics.  

Founder of Linkedin, Reid Hoffman, said “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

Obviously, your products and strategies should be well vetted and tested, but lack of speed kills.  Accept that perfection is unobtainable and set realistic launch goals.  Pick a small group of trusted associates or customers to test new products, and provide feedback.  You can always make adjustments and improvements along the way.  Remember the first cars weren’t even sold with windshield wipers because no one ever thought people would take them out in the rain.  As your customers inform you what changes or improvements need to be made, you can address them. Proving your use and delivering on your promises are more important to customers than perfection.



Robs Your Project of its Dynamism

Sometimes, trying to make something perfect can remove the energy and desire.  Think about the best presentation you have ever seen, or maybe just one with 28 million views.  

You can practice a presentation 100 times, and still not be prepared for a question, or something that happens in that room, up at that table or podium.  So why stress over it?  Giving a presentation is as much about presenting yourself as it is content or facts.  

People want to see someone they can relate to, and as it is often said, no one is perfect.  You should always properly prepare for a presentation, but don’t sit in the back of the room tinkering for perfection, walk around and introduce yourself.  Start a few conversations to see if you can find some interesting details to include in your presentation.  

Show your audience that you are aware of them, that you can relate to them, and that you are just like them, a normal non-perfect individual that has something extremely important to convey to them.  That will go much further than an extra bullet point on a screen full of text that no one will read.



Keeps You Waiting for that Perfect Opportunity

Are you the kind of person that is always looking for the perfect opportunity?  You’ve probably noticed a running theme by now, but no opportunity is perfect.  It is generally more a matter of pros and cons.  If you gain more pros by engaging in a new opportunity, you should generally go for it.  Always be on the lookout for new opportunities for your business.  Come up with a uniform system of evaluating each one.  

Select the ones that make the most sense, and tackle any hurdles as they come along.  Not every opportunity is going to work out, but some of them will, and when you look back you’ll see how imperfect the situation was at the beginning and the steps you took to improve it.  

This strategy will also help you evolve as a business person as you learn what works and what doesn’t.  As Wayne Gretzky said, “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

Sabotages Confidence and Self-Belief

One of the most encompassing deficiencies of perfection is that it can sabotage confidence and self-belief.  If you are afraid to launch a product or service, or pitch a new strategy until you think it is perfect, and then when you do, it is criticized, it can be crushing.  I’m sure you’ve probably been on social media lately, and if so, you know that someone has a comment for everything.  If you own or run a business, commenting is what you hire people to do, and if you are an employee, it is what you get paid for.  However, if you think something is perfect, and are told it is not, it can ruin your confidence, and this can stifle productivity.



Remember, innovations are built by teams, and no success has been free from criticism.  Use it to constantly improve.  Perfection can be something that is striven for, but rarely obtained.  Don’t dwell on criticism, use it to refine and enhance.

Prevets Your Getting From Start to Finish

In many phases of business, things are constantly evolving and never actually finished.  Think about a business plan, or target customers.  You should always be updating plans and trying to obtain new customers, but it is important to set milestones and plans that can actually be finished.  It will give you a sense of accomplishment and vigor and inspire your next cycle of innovation.

Perfectionists are often cited as not being able to finish anything because there is always something that can be changed to try and reach that unobtainable level of perfection.  Think about how this article started. Speed is an asset that perfection doesn’t allow.

Your milestones should be realistic times or events that allow you to move to the next step.  Be sure to evaluate and address areas for improvement in each subsequent step, as you try to achieve a more perfect outcome.



Destroys Vital Conditions for Creativity

Creativity and curiosity are born from chaos.  Always trying to be perfect eliminates your inclination to take risks and innovate.  You need to be creative to thrive in business.  There was a time when people said selling books online was crazy because users were scared to use credit cards on the web, the shipping costs would eat up any money that was saved and people would have to wait a week for a book that they could have today at any store or public library.  

You probably already know where this is going, but today Amazon is rated as the tenth most profitable brand in the world.  They certainly had their growing pains, but used feedback from mistakes to grow into the behemoth they are today.

Don’t be afraid to embrace chaos.  Again, striving for perfection can certainly be a goal, but it is often created from bedlam.  Make sure you get uncomfortable from time to time; it can help you create something you can’t yet fathom, but could fundamentally improve your business.

Nothing’s Perfect

Especially this posting.  The title stated you were going to get 7 ways perfection is killing your business, but there were only 6.  I just wanted to leave some room for improvement, as you should too, because nothing is perfect, or more perfect.  



Strive for consistency, not perfection and your business will thrive no matter the environment, product or competitor.

Have some more ways that perfection could be killing your business? Please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Perfect Photo via Shutterstock
2 Comments ▼


Loren Baker


Loren Baker Loren Baker is the founder of Search Engine Journal, hosts the podcast Search & Deploy on Rainmaker.FM and is a VP at Foundation Digital, a digital marketing agency. A long time digital entrepreneur, Loren has been in digital marketing since 1998 and over the past decade he has built & executed Search & Social strategies for leading companies in car insurance, retail shopping, professional sports and the movie & television industry.

2 Reactions

  1. Perfection, in most ways we apply it, is extremely relative. Perfect attendance at school? Measurable and achievable. The perfect smartphone? That depends on how you’ll use it, where you live, what network it’s connected to, how old you are, etc.

  2. Aira Bongco

    Perfectionism will not really get you anywhere. Focus on your desired output and focus on arriving there.

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