Friends – it’s time for this age old debate to be reframed.
We’ve all heard this discussion before. Should we “move fast and break things” or should we try to get things perfect instead?
Here’s the thing – done and perfect exist on a continuum. And the optimum point for you on the continuum depends on your unique circumstances. That is, the level of perfection that works for you, might not work for someone else.
Because this argument is so subjective, it might be time to reframe it away from “done vs perfect” and focus instead on “what the market thinks”.
This question was recently posed on one of my favourite Digital Marketing Facebook groups, Digital Marketing That Works – Crushing Conversion, by group creator and my friend, Andrew Walton.
I responded to his post, and thought I’d share an in depth version of that response here.
By the way, if you want a real life case study on how to get insane Facebook group engagement, you should definitely check his group out. And no, he did not ask me to say this. I’m just a big fan. 🙂
Okay, back to the question!
Is done better than perfect?
There are some people who lack attention to detail or always make excuses. For them, “done is better than perfect” is the perfect excuse. I’ve partnered with people like this before, and the results weren’t pretty. Needless to say, I’ve heard them say “done is better than perfect” many times.
Obviously, the flip side is trying to be too perfect. I suffer from this. I always use “high standards” as an excuse to wait a little longer before launching.
The truth is, I’m just scared of what people will think of my imperfect product.
I know this sort of thinking is wrong. Arguably, I’m too close to my product and can therefore see all the cracks and blemishes, which my audience is unlikely to pick up on. And even if they do pick up on them, it’s unlikely they’ll care. On top of this, I also know that obsessing over tiny details prevents progress and distracts me from the bigger picture.
I know all of these things, yet none of them have helped me move past my fear of being judged imperfect.
The only thing that has helped me is the idea that my opinions are irrelevant, and it’s only the market’s opinion that counts.
Market validation beats both “done” and “perfect”.
The market will tell you when you’re done. It’ll also tell you if they think your product is perfect.
If you’re like me, you might retort, “no product is ever perfect!” And that might be true. But it doesn’t matter what you or I think. It’s what your customers think that counts.
And sometimes? Your customers think your products are perfect!
Here are some “perfect” reviews of random products from Amazon:
I tried to choose really random stuff to prove my point. You see, you might personally have no need for a vegetable steamer, phone stand or adult card game. And chances are, there are dozens of competitor products out there that are better made than the ones I’ve shown here.
But it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that to their respective target markets, these products are perfect!
Get an objective answer to “done vs perfect?” from your market.
It can be tempting to ask friends or fellow business owners –
How long is your launch cycle?
Is it okay if I have typos in my Facebook ads?
How professional-looking do my pictures and videos have to be?
The reality is that there’s no perfect answer. Because it all depends on your industry, the sophistication of your audience, and your angle.
If you’re creating a finance app, then polish might be crucial. Good and easy to use design is the biggest trust signal you can send. No one wants to give their bank details to an app that has typos on their front page.
Conversely, if you’re selling yourself as a consultant, having some typos or using your phone to film quick videos might be fine. In fact, these things might help you to come across as relatable and personal.
At the end of the day, the only way to know is by putting in the effort to find out. If you don’t know where to start, look at the best in your industry and try to figure out what makes them successful. Then try to do what they’re doing, but with the addition of your own special sauce.
Then go to market and see what your audience thinks of your special sauce.
Set rules to get good and consistent feedback from your market.
Earlier, I mentioned that focusing on what my market thinks has helped me move away from obsessing over perfection.
Largely, I’ve managed to put this into practice by setting rules for myself. For example, a rule like “go to market every 2 months”.
By setting specific rules and targets like this, I shift the focus from worrying about things I can’t control, to working towards meeting clear and achievable goals.
By focusing on reaching my targets, I’m able to move past the fact that launching makes me feel really vulnerable and insecure. Instead, I feel a sense of achievement when I overcome my fears and meet my launch deadline.
It also helps me approach things more objectively. I start to worry less about what I think, and worry more about the quality of the rules I’ve set, and how to optimise them to get good results.
Do you err on the side of done or perfect?
This post talks a lot about focusing on your market, rather than your own preference for done vs perfect. But your special sauce plays a crucial part in this too.
Ultimately, the most successful products have huge self and market awareness. They’ve been able to match what makes them special to what the market wants. If you run a business, you’ll know how difficult this is to achieve!
For example, if you are the sort that errs more on the side of done, then you’ll do best in an industry where your market is fast moving, and ever-changing. Your ability to launch consistently, get feedback fast, and improve will give you the upper hand in your market.
Conversely, if you err more on the side of perfection, then you should pick a product that benefits more from refinement and polish. Your special sauce might enable you to deliver at a quality level that others find hard to replicate, and that could be the reason for your success.
So, with that, let’s hand the microphone over to you. Are you on team done, or team perfect? Have you been able to match your special sauce to your market’s demands? Let me know in the comments!
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