I see it time and time again, a budding entrepreneur is developing a business plan in hopes of raising money, and 6 months later is still modifying it in search of the perfect business plan.
Growing up, we are conditioned to achieve perfection, we are compared to others on our level of perfection in school by our grades. This paradigm does not exist in the real world, real world success relies on the help of others.
For instance, in school you are instructed to take your test on your own and without the help of others. In the real world it takes a team to accomplish great things.
The idea of perfection is all around us; it’s constantly being whispered, and at times screamed, in our ears. For example, it is in the classroom as young ones are praised for earning that perfect A. Or on the football field, players are encouraged to complete perfect plays in order to win the game. And musicians practice their music dozens of times so they can play with perfection at the next concert.
Most entrepreneurs think a perfect business plan and the perfect pitch are what gets investors involved in their new enterprise, that is the furthest thing from truth. Investors that invest in small companies do want details, but that is not the primary decision making factor. They must believe in the person they are investing in. There are no perfect people, investors like myself are looking for integrity, ability, drive, leadership, in our risky investments, we as successful business people can help solve business challenges, the character qualities are not something we have an effect on.
“At its root, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being meticulous. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success.”
― Michael Law
The top 3 batting averages of all time in professional baseball are Ty Cobb .366 Rogers Hornsby .358 Joe Jackson .356. these numbers represent success just over 1/3 of the time and they are the all time best at it. Of all the players only 26 clear the 1/3 success rate all other players for the last century are below that.
However, in reality, perfection isn’t really so perfect. There are times when great opportunities present themselves, and require a quick, but thoughtful response. If you attempt to achieve perfection in every single opportunity, you may be crippled with fear because the timing isn’t perfect, or the situation isn’t perfect, you only have 80% of the information, or you may move too slowly, and unfortunately miss out altogether. In 2009, Apple stock plummeted to as low as $78.20 a share, but Apple had a tremendous rebound to $700 in September 2012. In a perfect world, investors would have loved getting in at $78 a share and selling for $700 a share, but it’s impossible to know precisely what the bottom and top of a stock will be. Even if an investor got in at $150 per share, and was able to sell for $500 missing the top and bottom by more than 20% each, that would have been an excellent opportunity, although it wasn’t the “perfect” opportunity, since Apple stock had already bottomed-out. The stock market in 2009 was definitely not a perfect market, but many of those who were willing to take a chance profited greatly.
The fear of making a mistake is a perfectionist’s greatest challenge. Don’t be held back because the situation isn’t “perfect.” Complete each endeavor to the best of your ability, just don’t let the idea of achieving perfection hold you back from taking advantage of opportunities.
A mentor once told me make decisions quickly and change your mind slowly, go with the information you have at the time and make the best decision possible.