Winston Churchill said ‘Perfection is the Enemy of Progress” – I was reading something online (I was meant to be working!) and this caught my eye. It’s a trap we all (myself included) fall into sometimes.

In our Venus networking meetings at the moment we’re talking about how fear holds us back. Perfection is one of the most common excuses we, as business owners, use to explain away WHY we haven’t yet executed an idea, rolled out a new product, contacted that prospect or pushed ‘GO LIVE’ on the new website! Perfectionism leads to procrastination, which is fear-based. Procrastination often manifests itself as ‘I don’t feel like it’s the right time’.

A prime example of this was a woman I worked alongside in a ‘big corporate’ many years ago. She had brightly coloured ‘post it’ notes all over her desk and her client folders waiting for things to happen so she could do her work – the problem was she spent so much time on her post it notes and focusing on perfection that she never got any work done!

So, what’s the real problem? We often over-analyse when we just need to take some action. An idea doesn’t need to be perfect. You might well start with a perception of what you believe the market needs only to find once you launch it, it’s a slightly different version of the original idea. What people think they need and actually need sometimes can be totally different. I’ve seen many people spend too much time on something, only to find that by the time they are ready, the perceived need is gone, or has changed dramatically!

When we decide we want to try something new our friends – fear, failure and rejection – come knocking. Should we let them in? Of course, but check them at the door, ask them lots of questions, reason with them and then keep going. Don’t let fear stop you – magical things happen in your growth zone, the feeling of elation when you’ve forged forward and achieved is well worth it.

Think of fear, failure and perfectionism as your friends, but remember you get to decide who controls the relationship – you or them! Everyone feels them, and some more spectacularly than others. Failure is an opportunity to learn, grow, change, adapt and get closer to your goal. Don’t let fear and perfectionism hold you back, embrace and challenge them each and every time. Imagine how different life would be if we gave up at each failed attempt? If you ignore perfectionism and fear you will discover things about yourself that were once unimaginable. And it is then that you will decide you won’t let fear stop you anymore.

It’s all about moving towards the goal, not insisting that nothing gets spilled or knocked over on the journey. Mistakes will happen – it’s maintaining the momentum that matters! Focus on the process not the final product/service.

Focus on what you need to do to get you to your goal; the habits and processes that are going to support reaching the goal. You’ll find that when you focus on those instead of the final product you allow yourself room to learn as you go, making the end goal product or service much more robust.

Remember great things take time, every overnight success was borne out of hard work, persistence and is usually years in the making. Whatever your great idea is, it’s about getting a working version going, and refining it as you go. Be realistic, you can’t expect to be 100% right away. Every business owner knows that launching a product/service is an evolution. Commit yourself to the idea, and understand that it’s a process of refinement, that’s how you are going to end up creating something valuable.

Finally, and very importantly, make sure you surround yourself with people who will support, encourage, motivate and celebrate you and what you’re doing. Those people are the ones that will pick you up when your inner critic tries to take over. They are your potential customers, or know your potential customers so use them as sounding boards, run ideas past them, ask them for feedback. They are your friends, your family, your networking group and the businesses that you collaborate with. Those people are your ‘tribe’ – they have your back and they want to see you succeed, so go out there and amaze yourself!

Carolyn Banks
CEO Venus Network