Who is an entrepreneur’s biggest enemy?

Hint: It’s not your competitors.

It’s you.

Entrepreneurs, almost by definition, are ambitious, capable, and high-achieving. They’re used to setting their sights on a goal, working hard, and getting what they want.

But entrepreneurs also—and I speak 100% from my own experience here—get caught up in their own head trash. 

You probably got to where you are today because you didn’t want to answer to anyone else. 

But when you make decisions, you’re thinking about your clients, your team, your family….you may not be answering to them directly, but the pressure to do right by them is still present.

That pressure to get things right—the first time and every time—opens the door for perfectionism to creep in.

The Problem with Perfection

What’s the matter with perfection? Nothing, by definition.

In reality, however, perfection is basically unattainable. And that’s its fatal flaw.

In business, there are too many moving parts to strive for perfection. You’ll never, ever, EVER get there.

Make no mistake: perfection stops you from getting what you want. 

If you can only be perfect, then you can’t ever put a version one into the world. But life, and business, are iterative. You have to start with a first draft, a minimum viable product, an 80% solution. From there, you can ideate and iterate to accomplish the next best version of whatever it is you’re doing. 

If you aren’t willing to do that, the good parts of perfectionism (like having high standards) are eclipsed by the bad. 

You’ll constantly fall short of your own expectations. You’ll end up stuck. Unable to move forward. Afraid to take a step in any direction.

Perfectionism is about the need to be right, and the need to be perceived in a certain way by others. 

But if you always need to be right, you can’t take any risks. Running a business, and certainly growing one, is inherently risky. Where does that leave you? Set up to fail. Not able to appreciate your successes. Probably kind of miserable.

You don’t want to be miserable. (I don’t want you to be miserable!)

How to Defuse Perfectionism

What can you do when perfectionism strikes? First, keep in mind that the person who’s judging you most harshly is yourself. 

You’re your own worst critic. Your customers, your colleagues, your fellow entrepreneurs—they’ll give you more grace than you expect (and they’re paying less attention than you think).

I’m not suggesting you settle. I’m not even suggesting that “good enough” is always good enough. But if you let perfect become the enemy of the good, you’ll likely look back and wonder: 

Why didn’t I act sooner? 

What was I so afraid of? 

Why couldn’t I appreciate what was GREAT when it was right in front of me?

Aim high. Work hard. Strive to do the absolute best you can. 

But don’t do it because you’re worried about how other people might perceive you. Do it because it’s rewarding to claim what you want, put yourself out there, and go for it, regardless of the outcome.

If you give your best today, that’s the best you can do.

And that’s all you, or anyone else, can possibly ask for.