Perfectionism doesn’t help business owners—it can actually cause “analysis paralysis” and anxiety. There’s a lot to do when you’re running a business. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. I fight this often in my own business. There are a lot of areas that require my attention and, having a tendency to be a perfectionist, I find myself trying to be an expert at everything. It’s just not a reasonable goal, though.
When you are in the perfectionist mindset, the thoughts that go through your head can debilitate you. “You should know more about this… You should have read more about that… So-and-so is so much better in that area than you… You need to wait until you have more experience…” and the list goes on. Comparing ourselves to other people and berating ourselves for not meeting some sort of ideal is not helpful. Would you say these kinds of things to your best friend or employee? Not if you want to keep them around.
As business owners we are our own bosses and part of our job is to encourage ourselves. Mindfulness has been a big helper for me. As I spend a bit of time sitting alone with my thoughts I begin to actually realize what I’m thinking and what I’m telling myself.
Once I notice one of those not so helpful phrases subconsciously going through my head I have the opportunity to answer with, “No, I should not know more. I’m doing a really good job of learning about many things and juggling many responsibilities. I may not be as much of an expert as Jenny is in this area, but I know enough to make a pretty good decision. If it doesn’t work, I’ll try something else.”
Practice is Essential
I have a web designer/developer friend, who knows that I’m writing this blog post and he has been teasing me about it (“Is your blog on perfection perfect yet?!!”). He sent me an article the other day by James Clear entitled, “Why Trying to Be Perfect Won’t Help You Achieve Your Goals (And What Will).” In his article, James quotes the book, Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. In it is a story of a ceramics teacher who did an experiment on practicing. He split his class into two groups. One group was graded on quantity (their pots were all weighed at the end of the week—50 lbs of pots = an “A” grade) and the other group was graded on their one, best pot. Surprisingly, the best pieces actually ended up coming out of the work created by those students who were graded on quantity, not quality.
This really does say a lot. Practice is what’s important. Falling down and getting back up and trying again is the best way to learn. This applies to marketing strategies; this applies to writing blogs; this applies to making lattés, baking pies, and throwing pots.
Making Mistakes is Part of Practice
As both a visual artist and a musician, I’ve noticed that I’m psychologically much better at practicing music than I am at practicing art. When you’re practicing a piece of music, you don’t record every practice session. No one is going to want to listen to hours of me practicing.
The problem with visual art is that there is a physical record of your practice. You have to be very conscious of that fact and not get too attached to or obsessed by the refuse left over after every practice session. One good drawing out of 20 is actually pretty great and many of your drawings will be exercises in practicing one or two techniques.
With your business, you need to try new ideas. You can do your best to research ideas before you implement them, but you’re never going to know exactly how something will work until you get gutsy and try it. You may not succeed the first time, or the second, but as you continue to try things and modify your approach you’ll find out what doesn’t work for you and your business and that will help you to see the path that WILL work for you.
Your Website Content Doesn’t Have to be Perfect
Content creation (blogging, social media posts, etc.) is one of the most important things you can do to market your business and reach out to potential customers. If you are writing helpful blog posts that answer your customers’ questions, they will be more likely to find you. If you talk about your products and services and the problems they solve, the people with those problems are more apt to stumble upon your website content when they search online for answers. They are also more apt to trust you, to see you as an expert, and to come to you when they need your product or service.
Writing scares many people and that keeps them from doing this important step in the marketing of their businesses. What you write may not be perfect, but if you wait for perfection you’ll never hit, “Publish.”
In her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, shame researcher Brené Brown devotes an entire chapter to perfectionism. (I’m on my second time through this book and I highly recommend it.) Two of the mantras that Brené mentions are “Perfection is the enemy of done” and “Good enough is really f-ing good.” Well said.
Being a recovering perfectionist, I sympathize with business owners who aren’t ready to hit, “Publish.” Just like you, I’ve written a lot of content for my own website and it’s scary to put it out there, wondering who might see it and what they might think. But we need to get over ourselves and realize that perfect doesn’t exist and that, “good enough is really f-ing good.”
Create an editorial calendar for yourself. Set a goal of regularly writing something for your website or recruit one of your employees to do this. Search on a site like Quora for questions that people are asking in your business landscape and answer those questions.
Note: You only have to do a bit more than your nearest competitor. If your competitor doesn’t have a blog, then you only need to start a blog with one post in order to be more visible than they are. If some peers in your profession post new blogs every 3 months, maybe shoot for writing a blog post every 2 months.
Tips on Writing Content for Your Website
When you’re writing for your website, think about the words that your customers might be using to search for answers. Put those words and phrases into your titles, sentences, and product descriptions.
If you don’t have the funds to hire someone to tweak your content for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) right now, do the best you can to write everything yourself and then get friends and family to be your editors. Publishing new content will make Google happy (Google loves new content), help you gain some traction, and then, as your business grows and you have the funds, you can hire someone to rewrite the content for SEO if needed.
Remember: “Perfection is the enemy of done.” Expect some trial and error as you progress with your business. As a business owner and an entrepreneur, expect a certain amount of failure and expect to be uncomfortable. This is normal. If you aren’t somewhat uncomfortable then you aren’t pushing yourself to be innovative. Keep trying and you will continue to improve and surprise yourself with what you can accomplish.