Are you a perfectionist? It’s ok to admit it. You’re in good company. I’ve struggled with perfectionism my whole life, but I’ve managed to achieve success despite it.
You might think that’s counter-intuitive. Shouldn’t being a perfectionist HELP us be successful? Well….yes and no.
Perfectionism does help us deliver high quality, valuable products and services to our clients and they love us for it. But the problem with perfectionism is that we’re never satisfied with what we’ve done. It’s never quite good enough. Never quite ready to release. Never quite finished.
I see this a lot when I meet with people to discuss their startups. They have a list of ideas a mile long and they think their first release needs to have all of them. This approach leads to time delays and cost overruns. Meanwhile, someone else has built and delivered a bare-bones version and started gaining traction.
In the web startup world, we call the bare-bones version a “Minimum Viable Product” or MVP. An MVP includes the absolute minimum amount of functionality to launch the business, to start getting users, and to learn enough from the user experiences to draw some conclusions.
When the Swiss Army commissioned the first Swiss Army Knife in the 1880’s, its requirements were very basic. It needed to have a knife, a screwdriver to fix rifles and a can opener.
Over time, the knife has added everything from tweezers to a magnifying glass, but it didn’t start out that way. The MVP was “good enough” to get the job done. That modest beginning allowed them to gain a foothold in the industry and gave them a platform for growth. Now their product is a household name and a 130 year-old brand.
If you struggle with perfectionism like I do, it’s time to get a handle on it. Set your sights a little lower and focus on what matters most to your alpha and beta customers. Whether you’re launching a new business, a new product or a new service, don’t try to deliver the perfect end-product; try to deliver the perfect Minimum Viable Product and then enhance it over time.