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Perfectionism, simply defined, is the belief that more is always better, and that doing more will always return a better result. While it’s true that you should make a good and solid effort; there is such a thing as too much effort for too little reward.

choking.jpgIn fact, the number one reason people procrastinate on sales and marketing and all the other things they know they must do is because they put too much effort in, where it’s not really needed, and then feel stressed out over the lack of reward for all that effort. This creates a vicious negative cycle where you work harder, and receive less, work even harder, and so on.

The gap between what you are doing and what you are receiving becomes too large, and that imbalance can strangle your business.

I’ve been thinking lately about this idea of perfectionism and how it shows up in business. The first way is in wanting everything to be really well developed and well thought out before you bring it to market. Now, of course, we should all have a baseline of competency and integrity to our services. But there is also value in being human, and in making mistakes, and being OK with that. Of course, we can always try to plan for every outcome, but, sometimes, the more we overthink and overplan- the faster we lose the spark of interest, engagement, or creativity which excited us in the first place.

Another way perfectionism shows up is when you focus on image over substance. I see so many of my clients spending thousands of dollars to create their web presence, before they’ve even clarified what image they want for their business. Our businesses are called small businesses for a reason. We can always grow into the glossy brochures and 100 page websites- later. (If we even need them.) You can, most of the time, get by with just some basic marketing materials (business cards, a five page website) to start. Similarly, you can present a professional image by who you are- not what you have. All relationships are made people to people- not people to brochure. So think about this next time you’re thinking about your business image: do you want to be a business that looks good? or one that makes a difference? If you can’t have both, which would you choose?

A third way perfectionism strangles your business is when you spend a lot of time regretting "negative" outcomes. So this means you keep reviewing the past, rather than turning towards the future. Every action you take in your business is an opportunity to learn something new about yourself. Yes, there are certain patterns and processes which seem to work- and you should, by all means, know about those. However (and this is really important)- there will always be initiatives that don’t turn out like you plan. Part of being resilient is being able to learn from events and know enough to do something differently next time. Your failures may still be spectacular- but they will also be more interesting.

The main message I want to share is this: if you are feeling bored with your business, disinterested, or like it’s too much work, you may be experiencing the negative effects of too much perfectionism. One of the best strategies to combat this is to take an action in some direction, and if it feels good, keep on going. So if you have a new marketing technique you want to try, do it today- even before you know a lot about it. Set up a safe place to try and fail. Make some notes. Then try again.

When you give yourself the freedom to experiment without needing to be perfect, your life and your business will both benefit.

So, in the spirit of taking my own advice, I’ve set up blog broadcasting to my email newsletter list today- I’m not 100% sure how it works, but I’m willing to try and see. I’ll let you know how it goes.