Listen, there’s nothing wrong with a little perfectionism and wanting to get things right. And as a business owner, having some perfectionist tendencies can be a really good thing – it’s what pushes us the extra mile and makes us amazing at what we do. But sometimes, it can actually get in the way of our success and cause a number of problems for us in the long and the short term.
And I know this, because I’m a bit of a perfectionist myself, and over the last year I’ve begun to realise just how much it’s held me back in my own business. So today I wanted to sort of sidestep the world of graphic design, and talk a little bit about toxic perfectionism – because I don’t think it’s talked about enough.
Perfect Is The Enemy Of Good
Honestly, I’m a perfect example of how bad perfectionism can be for your business.. This new, shiny website you’re reading this on right now isn’t something that took a few months to do (like it would if it was a client’s website). Instead, I’ve been picking and fiddling, building and rebuilding this website for over a year. And I put off launching it because I wasn’t 100% happy with what I had, even though what I had was perfectly fine – great even! I was fussing over the smallest details, each individual word or little detail.
And then I realised that because I was being such a perfectionist, I had put off launching this website for an entire year, let me say that again.. AN ENTIRE YEAR! 🤦🏻♀️ Imagine how many potential clients I lost in that time because I didn’t have a website for them to look at? I realised it didn’t have to be perfect before I launched it, because I could always edit things later on. What was important was that it was there. In this case, and many others like it, perfect really is the enemy of good. And good is a damn sight better than nothing at all!
5 Signs To Watch Out For
If you know you have a few perfectionist tendencies already, then this post might be ringing a few alarm bells that you’re going down the toxic path towards perfectionism. But while being a little bit of a perfectionist isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it becomes a problem when it starts negatively affecting your business. So, here are a few signs of toxic perfectionism to look out for, and what they could be doing to your business right now.
You’re an all or nothing person: If you believe that it’s not worth doing unless it’s done perfectly, you could be setting yourself up for failure. This kind of thinking warps your view of success, and it often leads to you not being satisfied with anything that isn’t ‘your best work’. Which can then lead to you not putting anything out at all – something I know a lot about. This can be really bad for your business in the short and the long term.
You never take risks: Every year you’re the one in charge of making decisions for your business. Decisions that will impact your growth and productivity over the next 12 months. During brainstorming, you might come across innovative ideas and risky decisions, but if you’re a perfectionist then your first instinct might be to shoot them down. But creativity and evolution are critical to any businesses success, and that means you need to accept some element of risk. If you don’t, your business will never really have a chance to grow. So make sure you’re really weighing the pros and cons before making a decision, rather than just saying no.
You cannot accept and celebrate your success: You constantly feel your work is never good enough, so you get sucked so far into the details that you become frustrated -even angry. Even when your goal is complete and results in success, you believe you could and should have done it better. Perfectionists don’t acknowledge their wins to the extent of feeling the joy and satisfaction of a job well done. Instead, you find flaws in your work, that aren’t there.
You can never complete projects: This sort of leads on from point 1, but if you’re never happy with your work, you’re never going to finish your projects. If they are projects within your own business this could mean you end up ‘putting off’ growing and expanding your business for a very long time, or actively damage your reputation by not being present in the marketplace. But if you’re in a creative business, then it could be even worse by turning into…
You can’t meet deadlines: Deadlines are a really important part of running a business. When you work with a client, you will set out a timeline of when they can expect to hear from you, and while there is some flexibility in there (because life happens sometimes), they expect you to stick to that. If you’re such a perfectionist that it mean you regularly miss deadlines to make sure something’s ‘just right’, then this is a real problem and you’ll probably lose a lot of clients over it.
You’re afraid to fail: If you look behind the perfectionism, odds are you will probably find a fear of failure. In polls it’s often the number 1 fear, and as business owners it’s easy to cover that up with perfectionism. After all, if it’s perfect, nothing can go wrong, and you can be sure you’ve done the absolute best you can. But that mindset can easily take over, and it skews your idea of what a job well done actually looks like. So that in the end, nothing is good enough, and you’re still not managing the fears that are hurting you and your business.
Now, I’m no business coach, so I can’t offer you much help with understanding if this applies to you, but as someone who’s been there before, I can offer some advice on how to deal with it and make progress. The biggest piece being – outsource! Outsourcing the things I was obsessing over meant I could focus on what was actually important, and the core task would actually get done.
For me, that meant working with a copywriter to get the words written for my website, so I had no excuse not to publish it. I also found a terrific accountant to take care of my bookkeeping, so I didn’t have to (I bloody hate paperwork 😅) and most recently I’ve just hired a kick-ass VA to help lighten the load for me during busy times.
Outsourcing is an amazing tool for overcoming perfectionism, and I honestly couldn’t recommend it enough. And if your branding or marketing materials are what’s holding you back, then I can definitely help with that! But if you ever need to bounce ideas off anyone, or just get some advice, I am always happy to help. Just get in touch!