Why Now -- Yes, Now! -- Is the Perfect Time to Create Something New
This is no time to stop, or to sit on the sidelines. It's time to step up.
I didn’t shower today. I have an eye infection. I ate cake for breakfast. A few hours ago, I sat frozen, staring at the computer screen for a full two minutes, and then said aloud: “I can’t think.”
These may not sound like good things. But I’m telling you: They’re good things.
They’re liberating things.
They’re empowering things.
They should push you to take action, and produce something amazing and life-changing, and then have a second helping of breakfast cake.
This time is a good time — because it’s forcing us to rethink what time is at all.
Consider this: Back in our pre-coronavirus world, entrepreneurs always worried about when. When’s the right time to leave a job and start a company? When’s the right time to launch a product, or raise money, or reach out to a partner, or hit send on that email? When, when, when, when?
High-profile entrepreneurs often offer the same answer: Do it already! LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, for example, says that “if you aren’t embarrassed by your first product release, then you released it too late.” Square co-founder Jim McKelvey recently wrote in Entrepreneur that “there are really only two answers to this question: now and later. Now is often the right answer.”
People like Reid and Jim are fighting against perfectionism. They know that perfection doesn’t exist, especially not at the beginning. The greatest companies in the world started as duds, or half-baked concepts, or a goofy idea that nobody believed in. It is simply not possible to launch a perfect product. It is only possible to put an imperfect thing out into the world, learn from the response, refine it and then refine it some more.
We’ve all heard this argument. We understand it intellectually. We follow its logic. But it’s often hard to internalize it — to really embrace imperfection. In a pre-coronavirus world, we constantly saw what looked like perfection. We saw companies rocket upward. We saw people Instagramming their well-groomed lives. We saw great fortune, and we worried that we couldn’t achieve it with our imperfect ideas, and so, instead, we sat on the sidelines and waited. We waited for the perfect moment. And the moment never came.
Then coronavirus came instead. It ruined everything for everyone. Nobody is having an easy time now. We’re all flailing our arms, trying to catch our balance. It is a moment of great equalizing. Look around, and you will not see perfection. You won’t see it anywhere. It’s gone.
So, back to what I said before: This is a moment of liberation. There is no “perfection” to compete against now. Our expectations have come falling to the ground. Nobody cares if your kid is screaming in the background of a Zoom call; they only care if you have a helpful idea, or a meaningful gesture. They just want you to get out there. To offer something. To create something useful.
This really crystalized for me last week, when I spoke to an entrepreneur named Eric Yaverbaum. He’s the chairman of Ericho Communications, and caught the virus. When we spoke, he’d barely left his bed in 11 days. I thought about his employees — people who were scared for him, yes, but then also scared for themselves. What if the worst happened? Where would that leave them? So, I asked Eric: How are you speaking to them about this?
“Realistically,” he told me. “I spoke to all of my people and said, ‘Who wouldn't be afraid?’ People like to know about tomorrow. Fear of the unknown exists in everybody's mind. We are suddenly in an era where we have no idea. Everything is different now — and you know, that difference is starting to set in. The illusion of control has finally been made clear for what it always was: an illusion. There is no such thing as control.”
The illusion is gone. Nobody wants it. This is a time for reality — and reality is messy and imperfect, but you know what? It’s what we’ve got. It’s what we need.
So the question to you is this: What do you have? Is it what other people need?
Because now — right now — is a perfect time to get out there and offer it. (And yes, you can even send cold pitches now! I just had a great conversation about this.)
Nobody wants perfect. They just want you. And they don’t care if you showered.
Jason Feifer is the editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine, and host of two podcasts: Build For Tomorrow, a show about the changes that got us here, and how to thrive in a changing world; and Problem Solvers, about entrepreneurs solving unexpected problems in their business. He writes a newsletter about how to find opportunity in change.
Prior to Entrepreneur, Jason has worked as an editor at Men's Health, Fast Company, Maxim, and Boston magazine, and has written about business and technology for the Washington Post, Slate, New York, and others.