There's an age-old axiom that says perfect is the enemy of good. And nowhere is that truer than in business. One of the things that we, as entrepreneurs, tend to struggle with the most is perfection. You overthink everything in an effort to create perfect processes, as well as phenomenal products and services for your customers, so you can make money and make everyone happy. It's like you have a built-in drive for perfection.

But, many times striving for perfection gets in the way of doing good enough, which then becomes a significant barrier for making progress. That's especially true in an age where everyone is talking about running agile development and "failing fast." Here's how to do it right.

Start with small experiments.

It's about taking small, directionally correct steps toward your goal--and maybe even ultimately perfection. When you make a series of small experiments, it gives you multiple opportunities to learn, even when you fail.

Changing your mindset and using successive small experiments, and subsequent failure, is actually the most effective way to learn as you drive closer to your business goals. The truth is nobody is smart enough to predict the future and everything that can go wrong. So why constrain yourself by trying to plan for perfection?

Stop overanalyzing every move.

The enemy to failing fast is when you become highly analytical in that pursuit of perfection. That's where you map out every step of a journey and think everything through to the nth degree before you even start, as a way to hit perfection. But the result of this approach is often long planning cycles and paralysis by analysis, so nothing happens. If you spend too much time planning for perfection, when you're finally ready to act, everything has changed and that forces you to start all over again.

To be fair, I will admit there are situations that require a significant amount of planning ahead where failures can be disastrous. Planning for moonshot space missions, for example. You don't want to be running experiments in space when human lives are in danger. Sure, NASA has the resources to put multiple redundancy plans in place for when things go wrong--something that most growing businesses don't have the luxury of.

That's why a better analogy for entrepreneurs is if you're driving into town, are you going to wait until all the traffic lights turn green, that absolutely perfect moment, before you start? Of course not. Start by heading in the right direction, stopping when you need to, while understanding that each step you take is getting you closer to your goal, while also avoiding the kind of disasters that will total your car.

Mistakes equal learning.

You need to accept the fact that making 50 small mistakes, and learning from them, will actually result in more progress than overanalyzing, overplanning, and overthinking something to the point where you never even start your journey.

The real secret to failing fast is to take small enough steps that when you do fail, you get right back up and keep going. If you do that right, you'll never fail at the big stuff. Rather, you'll end up with a better answer, quicker than the people stuck at the meeting room planning their approach.

Published on: Mar 24, 2020
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