Perfectionism vs compounded gains

If I had to look back and identify my biggest weakness in my twenties, I would probably say that I was too much of a perfectionist.

I would sit on good ideas because they weren’t perfect, they’d often end up getting shelved and I would never have the opportunity to find out if they would have worked in the real world.

Then I’d likely breathe a sigh of relief that I only had to identify one weakness… because there were a few to choose from.

Perfectionism hasn’t been as much of an issue for me this year because I purposefully identified it as a weakness and have worked around it – I have “Ready. Fire. Aim.” written on my desktop wallpaper as a reminder to not spend too long aiming before firing.

Ways I could have let perfectionism stop me in my work as an SEO Consultant would be;

  • Making sure my offering is perfect
  • That I’m using all of the most effective tools
  • Having every single system in place
  • Having a fancy website
  • Being completely organised
  • Having a robust marketing system in place
  • Having the most professional reporting in place

Plus everything else which goes with running a business – before I ever even worked with a client.

In reality, nothing is ever perfect, and even if I’d managed to get all of that as close to perfect as I thought I could without running out of money – if I decided to make a small change in my business, then I’d have to change a lot or all of the above to realign with my new direction.

When I first went self-employed as an SEO Consultant about 18 months ago I didn’t have a website, I created invoices using LibreOffice Writer and just kept everything as lean as possible whilst focusing on getting results for my early clients and refining my offering.

As time went on I added a website (although it’s still super simple), added accounting software and everything else… but it was only after I was already working with a number of clients, achieving results and happy with the direction I was going in.

Not doing those things (and many others) too early allowed me to be super flexible and perhaps even more importantly, it allowed me to make incremental gains which have compounded over time.

If I’d waited six months until I had built a website and had everything almost perfect, then I might have started in a better position but I would have been so much further behind with compounded gains and experience.

In reality, I probably changed direction (by a degree or two) a thousand times in the first six months which meant that following that period, what I was doing was tried, tested and true – not perfect, but it didn’t need to be.

I operate in a similar fashion in my SEO work with clients, rather than waiting for the perfect website and the perfect plan – we make a plan with the best resources we have at the time and get to work on the highest priority tasks which will make the biggest difference.

The gains from this compound over time to achieve bigger results than if we had otherwise sat around waiting for the perfect plan or idea.

There’s certainly a time to practice and plan, this is extremely important… but at the end of the day – you can’t win the game if you don’t take the field.

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An SEO Consultant based in Mansfield Woodhouse, United Kingdom. I'm obsessed with SEO at the moment, but I also love talking about and interpreting marketing in general, productivity and entrepreneurship.

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