Voltaire wrote, "Perfect is the enemy of good." There are many ways a startup can fail. But perfectionism is a surefire one. To achieve any sort of startup success, you need to find a way around "perfect" and get to "good."

Tim Ferriss articulates this better than anyone.

In their podcast conversation, How to Optimize Creative Output, Tim Ferriss and Chase Jarvis talk about creativity and productivity. On the topic of Ferriss' mega-successful podcast, Jarvis asks, "Did you know it was going to be this perfect ... when you first started? Or did you just start?

Ferriss explained when he set out to start his podcast, he reached out to podcasters to learn about their experiences. One thing became clear. Almost everyone who launched a podcast published about three episodes. Then they went silent.

Why? Because they would get overwhelmed by editing and quit.

To avoid this burnout, he thought to himself, "What would this look like if it were easy?"

In this case, easy meant no post-product work. He decided to produce long-form podcasts with long conversations and next to no editing.

At its core, this decision is what made his podcast so successful. Because without it, he would have burned out like the rest, and there would be no podcast. He got things done, even if they weren't perfect.

Applying This to Your Own Work

This message is something I've applied to all my startup experiences, and it's what's made my current business a success. Ferriss phrases it in a way that's really easy to understand.

At my current company, we've applied this to nearly all our plans. One great example is our international marketing strategy.

"Going global" is a behemoth of an undertaking. And though I knew it would be the key to our growth, my team had never done it before.

We thought to ourselves, what would this look like if it were easy? Our answer was as follows.

  1. We started with only a few markets we thought would be easiest to enter.

  2. We took a tiered approach, only translating certain parts of our experience.

  3. We used common web templates across languages.

  4. To keep it easy on our budget, we used hourly contractors instead of agencies or employees.

Was it perfect? Definitely not. But was it easier than investing a huge amount of time and budget into building out a detailed global marketing plan? Yes.

It got us to a place where we could go back and fix bugs, rework copy, add translated versions of the site, and expand into more competitive global markets.

Learn How to Remove Roadblocks

In the startup world, execution is what matters.  Establish your baseline idea, product, concept -- whatever it is. That's how progress is made. Do it the easy way, then iterate and improve.

If perfectionism -- or any other sort of roadblock -- hinders your ability to get things done, remember: what would this look like if it were easy?

Published on: Jan 29, 2018