How to Overcome Perfectionism to Succeed in Business
There is an epidemic sweeping our nation. Its victims suffer from failed businesses, marriages and even diets. It doesn’t discriminate and can attack anyone striving for success. What is this plague crippling our country? It’s called perfectionism. And the paralysis of perfection can be a dream killer for many entrepreneurs.
Perfectionism is the all-or-nothing attitude that sounds like these: “I haven’t figured out my logo yet. I can’t make business cards without a logo. I can’t go to a networking event without business cards. I guess I’ll just stay home.”
This sort of perfectionism stimulates stress, crushes creativity, prevents productivity and ultimately prunes profitability.
Most perfectionists don’t even realize they are one. They cling to the belief that their obsessive pursuit of perfection is really just the definition of doing a good job. And yet, as you will see, perfectionism may be what is ultimately restricting them -- and you -- from desired success.
Here are five tips to overcome perfectionism to start a business.
1. Done is better than perfect.What perfectionism sounds like: "My website isn’t up yet because it’s not perfect. I’m not sure who my ideal client is, so I am not going to pitch anyone."
A mentor of mine taught me about building half bridges -- working on a project, but not seeing it to completion. Perfectionists are on a half bridge to nowhere, because they have a hard time finishing what they start.
Action: Jump in and finish what you start. Don’t let your perfectionism prevent you from starting or completing a project. You can always make changes as time goes on.
2. Use obstacles to your advantage.What perfectionism sounds like: "This isn’t working out; maybe it is a sign that I should just give up. I failed in the past, so why bother."
Perfectionists view obstacles or mistakes as complete failures.
Action: Don’t give up. One roadblock is not an indication that your plan is flawed. It is an indication that more creative thinking is needed. Replace the concept of “failure” with “data.” When things don’t go the way you want, assess the reasons why and use that information to get ahead.
Related: 8 Tasks You Should Delegate Today
What perfectionism sounds like: "I have to do it myself or else it won’t get done. I have no time to find someone to help me out and train them; it is just easier to do it myself."
Action: Trying to code your entire website, develop your marketing materials and be out selling your services will impede success. Delegate tasks. Take time to find and train a team (including virtual) who will allow you to focus on what you need to do to develop your business- such as sales calls. Use your time and energy wisely.
4. Take breaks.
What perfectionism sounds like: "In order for my business to be a success, I need to work on it all the time. I’ll take a break when I get my work done. I can sleep once I finish this project."
Action: Stop the all-or-nothing mentality. Top athletes know the power of training AND resting hard. When you take care of your needs as a human being, your business will flourish. This does not mean, “take a 90-minute yoga class every day” (necessarily). Be what I call “Better Than Perfect.” Meditate for three minutes or walk for five. And go to sleep. Consistently getting a good nights’ sleep will help you have more physical and mental energy to keep you more efficient and effective.
5. Focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want.
What perfectionism sounds like: "I should be more profitable. I do not want to fail."
Perfectionists often focus more on what they don’t want (“I better not screw this up”) rather than what they do want (“I want to help my clients have a better life”).
Action: Be motivated by passion rather than fear. Fear of failure can be powerful in the short term, but it also leads to stress, burnout and business failure. Focus instead on passion. This includes the financial aspect of your business as well as the meaning behind what you do. When you have a true purpose for your business, you are more engaged, resilient and ultimately more successful.
Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., coaches entrepreneurs and business owners to get out of their own way to create the business – and life – they want. Her newest book Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love is now available.