The Startup Entrepreneur’s Obsession To Be Perfect

About a month ago, Gary and I were having a conversation with a business partner of ours about a project we have been working on that has progressed a great deal and gained significant momentum that now seems to be circling the runway in a prolonged holding pattern.

Truth is, we have done a tremendous amount of work on the project, however, I began to sense we were starting to over-do it and over-think it to the point that it was reaching a point of diminishing returns.

This is not uncommon when startups try to achieve perfection…

Trying To Be Perfect Before You Begin

There is only so much you can do in the pre-market phase of a new startup. In my opinion, we have taken this new venture about as far as we can possibly go in this pre-market phase and we are starting to try to solve issues that we have no idea will happen until we first bring it to market. I told one of our partners, “we are trying to be perfect. As you know, perfect is the enemy of the good.”  To my surprise, he didn’t know what that meant, despite the fact that he admitted he had heard it a number of times, many of those from me.

To me, perfection is a 4-Letter word because to a perfectionist, everything is a failure. Why? Because we are never perfect. Ever. It just doesn’t happen… and even if it did it would be very sad, as there would be no room for improvement.

Do you remember those video games where you mastered the most advanced level? What happened? … You stopped playing it because once you mastered it there was nowhere to go! In life and business, you never master anything, you are never perfect and there is no such thing as an expert . The best you can be, in my opinion, is great.

Great vs Perfect

People need to understand that there is a huge difference between being perfect at something compared to being great or even the best at something. In my last post, I mentioned that I am re-reading (via Audible) Jim Collin’s, Good to Great. One of the 3 parts of the good to great circle is that a company must be the absolute best at what they do. I am in 100% agreement, however that does not mean they are perfect. There is a big difference. You need to understand that.

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This project that Gary, myself and our two other partners has taken up a tremendous amount of our time. I am fine with that because I am 100% behind it in both belief and commitment (they go hand in hand) but, like I said, in my opinion, we are trying to be perfect, and perfect just ain’t gonna happen.

If you look at the greatest entrepreneurs and investors, they will tell you that the biggest problem companies have is trying to get their product perfect before launch.

Companies that do succeed are never perfect. They come to market with a good and often great (but imperfect) product or service, and then consistently fine-tune the product or service over time AFTER their product or service goes to market. I am convinced this is the correct mindset.

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Fine Tune

If you are currently creating a product or service and you are trying to be perfect, my strong suggestion is that you stop what you are doing, take a look at what you have created, and see what needs to be addressed now, and what can be worked on later after you go to market. The truth is, there will always be mistakes and there will always be failures of some type or another.

I have had so many failures I literally wrote a book on it. I even started a series on ‘failing up’ in Forbes with David Williams & Mary Michelle Scott called, The Lemon-aide Interviews which is all about what we learn from our mistakes. In first interview, we had Shark Tank’s Daymond John to provide his feedback on what he has learned from his mistakes. As he said in the interview, “If you’re not making mistakes, you are not making moves!”

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Being a sports guy, I’m going to use basketball as an example…

The 3 Kings

When the Miami Heat drafted Lebron, Wade, and Bosh it sounded perfect. The truth, however was that, although it seemed they had all the talent to win, they had to get on the court and start figuring out how this 3 man mechanism was going to work in the way Pat Riley envisioned.

Truth is, they needed a little bit of time to get on the court and figure it out. In fact, they couldn’t even figure it out in the first full season. They fine-tuned the radio until it finally sounded perfect… but you and I should know at this point… there is no such thing as perfect, just great.

Have a great day! (pun intended)





“MJ takes a new and exciting approach on how to teach entrepreneurs.”

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Co-host of ABC's, 'Shark Tank'

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6 thoughts on “The Startup Entrepreneur’s Obsession To Be Perfect

  1. I have a bachelor and a master’s – while in school it was all theory. When I got out in the real world, I soon learned “It may look good in theory, but how does that translate into practice?”

    The sports analogy is perfect. You have to get it out on the court.

    I am working on a project of my own and then one with two other women. Getting them out of their comfort zone and onto the court is challenging sometimes. I am going to send them your article.

    Much thanks!

    1. Thanks so much Shelly. Yes, what sounds great in theory DOES NOT ALWAYS TRANSLATE. I am glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for passing it on to the rest of your crew! Have a great day. Best- MJ

    1. Thanks my man. Hope your week is off to a great start and good luck with the new mobile app. I am sure it will be extremely successful! Have a great day David- MJ

  2. Great article, MJ, and I couldn’t agree more – the difference between great and “perfect” is profound and makes all the difference in getting strong initiatives off the ground. And I’m happy and proud to have been able to participate in at least one of those recent projects with you 😉 Thanks for the great call out to Fishbowl and the 7 NN’s. And here’s to another great week of progress… not perfection… Thanks for all you do!

    1. Thanks a million Cheryl! Yes, it was WONDERFUL working with you on the article and interview and I look forward to many more where that came from! Have a great day! Have an IMPERFECT day! ha- Best- MJ

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