Thanks to the age of social media—with its infinite filters, countless selfie retakes, and similar behaviors—perfectionism is a growing problem. And there’s a good chance it’s creeping into your business, too.
Perfectionism is the need to appear flawless. For your personal identity, that’s showing up happy, attractive, and put-together for the world. For your business, it’s presenting impeccable products, marketing materials, and picture-perfect employees—always.
As you can imagine, there’s a lot of positive potential outcomes from perfectionism:
- High-quality products and ideas
- Flawless branding
- Impeccable customer support
- Absence of errors both big and small
However, there are several downsides to perfectionism, too:
- Delayed (and sometimes canceled) products and ideas
- Failure to launch
- Fake environments and attitudes
- Unsustainable expectations
There’s a good chance perfectionism is holding your business back, but you don’t have to let it. Below, we’ll show you how to overcome perfectionism tendencies and learn to “just ship it.”
Just Ship It
The phrase “just ship it” has roots in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup world. Fast-moving tech companies release iterative versions of their product or service, continually improving each day rather than waiting to release a perfect product.
Remember Facebook back in the early days? Compared to today’s platform, it was laughable—and that’s putting it nicely. However, Facebook would have never reached its current status if they’d spent an extra 15 years in development.
The same is true for your business. Whether you have a brand-new idea for a startup, an innovative website, or an industry-disrupting product—don’t let perfectionism keep you from moving forward.
Just ship it.
“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late,” says Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn’s cofounder.
Now, that quote is not to say you should scrap quality in exchange for speed. Reid is saying it’s more important that you launch a product and iterate rather than waste extra time making it “perfect” before launch.
Go From MVP to MLP
For years now, startups have been pushing the notion of developing minimum viable products, or MVPs. MVPs are scaled-down functional products that solve a need but usually lack all the fancy bells, whistles, and design features.
The notion behind an MVP is that it’s easier (and more productive) to iterate on an existing idea than to spend more time in pre-release development. It follows the following maxim: “Done is better than perfect.”
For example, if you’re developing your business’s website, don’t wait until it’s immaculate before you launch—that’ll take forever. Once you have the essential pages up, publish it. Analyze your site, receive feedback, and continue to make changes over time. That’s essentially the idea behind starting with an MVP.
But an MVP is just scratching the surface of what you should really be looking to produce. Instead, your time is better spent creating minimum loveable products, or MLPs.
MLPs go a step further than MVPs by designing and releasing products that customers will love. That’s not to say it has to be perfect—but it needs to get customers excited about its potential. Back to Facebook, for example: while the initial design, features, and user experience were far from perfect at launch, the platform was a worldwide hit.
Now, imagine if the site had been more feature-rich but less user-friendly? Do you think it would have received the same excitement and popularity? Probably not.
Don’t just create minimum viable products—create minimum loveable products. Once you have the bare bones for something your customers will love, you know what to do:
Just ship it.
Overcome Perfectionism Tendencies
Adopting a “just ship it” mentality and focusing on MLPs can be easier said than done. Sometimes, there are other branches of perfectionism you’ll need to hack off before you can truly grow as an entrepreneur.
- Recognize perfectionism traits: Start noticing when perfectionism might be holding you back. Analyze things you might be obsessing over or harsh judgments you may be making about yourself or others. Perfectionism can’t be cured unless you recognize it.
- Prioritize action: When planning becomes more important than doing, you know there’s a problem. Yes, planning is essential, but don’t let it stop you from taking action. “Imperfect action is always better than perfect inaction,” says Wendy Maynard.
- Realize there is no perfection: Recognize that even if you spent the next 12 months developing your website, there would still be errors to fix and improvements to make. Perfection is an ever-elusive goal—you’ll never get there. There is no perfection.
Unlock Your Small Business’s Potential
Entrepreneurism and perfectionism can’t co-exist. Creativity demands risk, and risk rarely leads to perfection.
Stop roadblocking yourself. Overcome perfectionism and unlock your small business’s potential.
Don’t wait for the perfect design, the perfect timing, or the ideal user experience. It’s not coming—just ship it.