Don’t Get It Perfect – Get It Started

An appropriate note on beginnings, as we roll through this first month of the year.

The enemy of most entrepreneurs is not perfectionism, as some have suggested. It is the idea of perfectionism. It is the dream of what their beautiful business will finally look like someday. What I mean is this: it is possible to hold such a magnificent dream in one’s mind, that one never gets around to actually doing the work required to bring the dream to fruition-because if one did so, one would be faced with the inevitable reality that the thing itself did not live up to the promise of the dream. This is more important than it may at first appear.

I’m convinced that more businesses are killed because they are never started, than are begun and lost to the ravages of the marketplace. I have a friend who has begun at least a dozen enterprises that completely and utterly failed to make a single dollar-because he started all of them in his mind only. He made elaborate plans. He drew incredibly complex mind maps. He constructed detailed, banker- pleasing spreadsheets. And finally, overcome by the weight of all of the fantasizing he had done, eventually realizing all the potential dangers that lay ahead of him if he proceeded, he quietly laid each enterprise to rest before it had even been born.

There is a much-quoted saying in this business of ours: “Don’t get it perfect, just get it started.” Or something very close to that. I have heard this quote attributed to various different people, but I’m determined to believe that it originated with Zig Ziglar. Regardless of who first said it, it contains a great deal of truth. Please bear in mind that this particular saying is not an endorsement of creating inferior products or services; it is, more accurately, a condemnation of allowing the ideal of perfectionism to prevent the birth of enterprise.

It is the law of the farm writ large: if you don’t plant the seed, no crop will grow.

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