Is This Common Habit Holding You Back? Here's How to Tell — and What to Do About It.

Entrepreneurs often fail to move forward because they're stifled by perfectionism.

learn more about Jason Hennessey

By Jason Hennessey

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but it took me five years to build my company website. What was really bad is that my company builds websites for our clients. The cobbler's children have no shoes, so it's said.

For the longest time, all I had was a single landing page with a contact form. It served its purpose, but I knew it had to be better. Actually, I knew that it had to be perfect because it represented my line of business.

My obsession with having the "perfect" website had me frozen and was holding me back from even making one step toward progress. I was stuck in a holding pattern, but looking back, I should have just started.

How many entrepreneurs fall victim to this over and over again? And how do we overcome it — perfectionism — when it's such a blocker to growth and creativity?

Related: How to Overcome Perfectionism to Succeed in Business

Nothing kills productivity more than perfectionism

I don't have the scientific study to support this, but my theory is that entrepreneurs are disproportionately Type A personalities. We have a fascination with doing things differently but doing things our way — the "right" way, in our minds.

This leads us to want to perfect everything in our business. We need to research, plan, optimize and execute the perfect marketing funnel. We need to mind-map, strategize and articulate the perfect content marketing framework. We need the perfect offer for the right audience at the right price point… and on and on it goes.

This obsession with perfection often prevents us from taking any action at all. That's why it takes us years to get our website built, to launch that course we've been talking about, to record that first podcast episode, to test our first product launch or to create a company vision and core values.

Fortunately, there's a better way to be. A more productive, flexible mindset. But it means letting go of perfectionism and embracing progress.

Related: 4 Ways to Send Your Perfectionism Packing

"Good, better, great" are the steps of progress

When I finally got around to creating my website, it was only good, not great. But over time, I made improvements. And then it became better. And finally, it became great. I tweaked it until it was what I envisioned from the beginning.

The reality is that, right now, you don't truly know what it will take to achieve perfection. Your offer might change, your audience might change or your mind might change. The "steps" are fluid. And if you are hyper-focused on how to do it "right" the very first time, you will never get there.

The mindset shift is to envision what single step you can do now — and then take it. Strive for good, adjust until it's better and tweak until it's great. Roll with the changes of your offer, brand, audience and interests. This leads to a more adaptable and dynamic business rather than a rigid, "perfect" one. It's the incremental steps that you take that lead you to your goal.

Related: Figuring Out What Success Really Means to You

Success is learning as you build, building as you grow

"Perfect" is really just a moment or concept, frozen in time. It is not a creation that emerges out of change, learning and creativity. You learn more about yourself as you build your business, so let your business model reflect that growth later.

I am a very different person than I was five years ago. If I had tried to build the "perfect" website then, I'd likely have gone through six rebrands since. I am happy I gave myself a foundation of a "good" website that allowed me to change and adapt over time.

Similarly, your approach to business may change. It takes a while to develop a strong and steadfast brand. Success is only achieved by learning about your business, market and audience as you grow — and allowing that degree of flexibility. Perfectionism will only keep you stagnant or worse, fearful, of growth.

You don't need to have everything perfect. Good, better, great is far better than striving for perfectionism and having that block you from taking any action at all. So, what are you holding off on doing until it's perfect?

Jason Hennessey

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Entrepreneur & CEO

Jason Hennessey is an entrepreneur, internationally-recognized SEO expert, author, speaker, podcast host and business coach. Since 2001, Jason has been reverse-engineering the Google algorithm as a self-taught student and practitioner of SEO and search marketing.

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