Hello My Fellow Perfectionist
This is the life hack that allowed me to complete monumental projects, like launching a business, finishing a dissertation, publishing books, giving birth. You know, the stuff that’s really freakin hard. Emotionally, mentally, even physically. The stuff that shifts the course of your life, if you can just actually see it through.
The life hack is:
Done is better than perfect.
Perfectionism often comes from growing up in a culture where your flaws got a lot more attention than your triumphs.
This doesn’t even have to be something that happened within your household. Just existing as a woman in the United States exposes you to the circumstances that can lead to perfectionistic tendencies. White culture, especially, values flawlessness – as if it’s possible.
If you’re told on repeat that you’ve fallen short in some way, you course correct. You raise your standards (because obviously they were previously way too low or you wouldn’t have had a flaw) and you become a hypervigilant monitor of yourself.
You’ll catch those flaws before anyone else notices them.
As a recovering perfectionist, I’m not gonna lie to you. Character traits like high standards and attention to detail have both prevented mistakes (like marrying that one guy who my friends hated) and driven many successes (like having a baby while finishing grad school).
But when you don’t reign it in, perfectionism actually keeps you stuck in a standstill.
During dissertation days, Done Is Better Than Perfect played continually in my head. Because my perfectionism would have me thinking, “I bet there’s one more journal article out there that would really take my literature review all the way to the top. If I don’t fill this gap in my chapter, my committee will notice and I won’t pass, journal reviewers will reject me, and all this work will have been for nothing. Let’s head back to the library and dig for a few more hours.”
Those thought and behavior patterns are fine once or twice. But when you’re doing that on the daily – that’s how you never finish your dissertation.
Too afraid my weakness will be exposed, so stay in “development mode.”
If I don’t move, nobody will see me. Yet that’s the problem – nobody will see you!
To make great things for this healing world, you have to be seen.
You have to risk that there’s a typo somewhere in the manuscript you haven’t caught.
Indeed, after I wrote my first book, I got emails from eagle-eyed readers who said “on this page you said x but on that page you said y,” or “on page 50, you wrote it’s when you should have used its.”
A perfectionist’s worst nightmares, come true.
And that’s after I read every word. Multiple times. As did my editor. And a copyeditor.
So it goes.
Those tiny errors don’t take away from the book’s impact. In fact, every email about a tiny error also said things like “I love this book so much, I’m absorbing every single word. This is changing my life.”
The thing is: Your perfectionistic cultural upbringing means you won’t put crap out there in the world. Your high standards will always prevent you from doing so. It’s going to be good. You produce quality. Even if there’s a typo.
So just focus on getting it done. Of course, give your work one thorough review (how could you not). Then hit Publish. Send the email. Launch the reel. Just go.
The world is waiting.
How To Launch a New Offer
My friend, this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve launched several businesses, each one hitting six figures right out of the gate.
So you’d think I’d have the launch process totally figured out by now. While experience did help me foresee some steps I’d need to take, I still fumbled and it took me way longer than necessary.
As usual, I’d love for you to learn from my mistakes.
So here’s the diagram of my last business launch. Whether you’re launching a totally new business or just looking to sprout a new branch for your existing business, you’re likely to run through the same phases. Though if you look carefully at my mistakes, you can probably do it faster.
LAUNCH PHASE 1
I truly believe most businesses are born from frustration. When we find ourselves engaged in something so poorly executed, we’re like “I could totally do this better.” In fact, a lot of armchair consultants on Twitter pull inspiration from this very place. Your hyper critical friend lives here and has a dozen new business ideas every day.
Nothing much beyond grumbling typically happens – until the flash of a truly better idea comes, along with the details that make it a viable product. I had fluorescent flashcards and a notebook and a lightning bolt at 3am that helped me hammer out the product and the plan.
Then I entered the likely avoidable span of time where I overthought it. The plan was awesome. My experience told me it was going to take me a lot of time and energy to turn it into reality.
And then I questioned myself.
Where would the time and energy come from?
Did I actually even want to do it?
Would people buy this product from me? Who, exactly?
Haven’t a bunch of other people already done this? What makes me think mine will be better?
I know what’ll help me answer these questions: Listening to every single possible business coach.
Geez that was a huge waste of my time.
You’d think, by now, I’d know not to let these thoughts distract me. Maybe this stage is unavoidable. Yeah, maybe we all have to go through it. But it doesn’t have to take as long as mine did. And we can feel these feelings while also continuing to make progress. Without letting those self-doubting thoughts freeze us in place.
LAUNCH PHASE 2
The key to getting out of the self-doubt whirlpool is to focus on the people you want to serve.
They have needs and they don’t have time for you to mess around.
In my case, I have new and seasoned entrepreneurs in my DMs nearly every day, asking to pick my brain for 15 minutes. I said yes to a few of these folks, seeing it as an equal exchange – I’ll give advice and they’ll teach me about my audience.
Once I had my audience figured out, I started to build the business’s infrastructure, with those particular people in my mind at all times.
I sorted out the framework/structure/package for my services. This is the part most people skip cause they don’t know they need it. But you have to create the container. Give it a name.
Then I brainstormed the business name and connected with my web developer to (1) figure out if we could even do this, (2) research URLs, and (3) start the build.
People usually spend too much time in this phase. They’ll create business cards and deliberate over the web site design and consult 800 people about their business name…. and then never actually launch. Don’t get stuck here.
Then it came time to actually build the program. I had to write out my curriculum – which ended up taking me much much longer than I had planned. The amount of solid business advice that had been just rolling around in my gray matter – honey, the curriculum was longer than any book I’ve ever published.
Took me forever to get it all out of my head.
At the same time, I was planning the marketing strategy, coordinating with my web guy, and shooting the videos. This was a super intense time that I wish I had been able to spread out more.
LAUNCH PHASE 3
Phase 3 is go time.
I launched with a newsletter (hi! This one!) while I was still finishing the website build and testing everything.
I developed some freebies while still testing everything.
Then I announced the new program and opened enrollment. The hard work is supposed to be done at this point so I make it a priority to celebrate with my friends and family.
However, students were unearthing issues we hadn’t found in any previous testing. I don’t know how. But this seems to happen every time I launch. And I think it may be unavoidable? This is why restaurants have soft launches. Maybe we all need our own version of a soft launch.
Every step of the way I’m making mental note of what worked and what didn’t. I formally collect all of those thoughts in a debrief session with my project notebook. *IF* I’m gonna ever do this again, there’s no freakin way I’ll remember every single tweak I’d want to make unless I write them down while they’re fresh in my mind.
Then I chew on those lessons learned while watching student successes and monitoring my own mental health and it’s those things together that lead me to the final point in the process: Do I want to do this again?
And I do.
I’ll open Boost & Bloom again in Feb. Get on the VIP list for early access and a discount.
I’m already thinking about another business, too. I’m in the “I can do it better” stage. This next time around, I’ll be on the lookout for the tedious overthinking stage and do my best to skip it.
I hope you will, too.
What stage are you in? How long are you giving yourself until the next stage? Do you even know what your next stage is? Email me with a note about where you are right now.
Your launch doesn’t have to look like mine. But please at least consider my sequence of steps and my mistakes and make adjustments to get to your next launch faster, better, stronger.
Looking Forward to Freedom
I got to cutest, most sweetly naïve DM from Angela:
“Can I have my own business and also have a lot of time off, especially in the summers, to spend with my young children?”
What would you say to Angela?
My reply was “HELL YES! That’s kinda the whole idea!”
When you work for yourself, you get to create the life you want to live.
In a big picture sense, that means you aren’t necessarily tied to a specific geographic location – you can work wherever you want, in theory.
In a small picture sense, it means you have the freedom to construct each day of your life on your own terms. However you want it to go. You get to make it up!
I freakin love that level of autonomy.
Angela will too. Because it means that if she wants summers off with her kiddos, she has the freedom to book all of her clients during the school year, even during school hours, so that when the bell rings, she’s there to pick them up.
It might seem like this is only possible if you work in a digital consulting space, but not so.
My all time favorite pizza shop closes for entire weeks out of the year so they can all go on vacation.
The framemaker a few blocks from me put up a sign that said “Out for the summer. Reopening September 5. By appointment only.” The quality of his work is so high and people are willing to pay a premium for it, that he can have a brick-and-mortar that’s only open for appointments.
In a more micro picture sense, the way you structure each day is a part of the freedom entrepreneurship gives you.
Lots of newbie entrepreneurs initially set up their days to mimic whatever corporate or academic environment they came from. 8 hours a day, butt in chair. Work through lunch. Clock out at 5.
And if that’s your jam, rock out.
But you’ve got options.
You’ve got freedom.
My daily structure has changed with the seasons of my life. When my kid was younger, I mostly followed the school day schedule, working 8-3 each day of the school year and 10-4 during the summer, getting in exercise and errands after school let out. (PS – those are 6 hour work days, in case ya didn’t notice.)
I have LOVED being there for my kid before and after school – a privilege that so many folks can’t usually enjoy.
Now that my kid is older, I wake up and read a book with my coffee. I go for a long walk or tune into a YouTube yoga class or pretend like I know what I’m doing at the pilates studio. Then I start work around 10:30. Heck, I’m writing this at 11am on a Saturday because he’s a teenager and he’s still sleeping.
I didn’t work Fridays at all this summer. I’ve taken SEVERAL weeks of vacation. We’re looking at a house in another country.
Other people embrace their night owl nature and work 3-midnight.
Some folks, like the owner of my nail salon, want a weekday off to grocery shop or whatever without the crowds, so they trade Sundays for Thursdays.
I’ve heard of people who make all the money they need for the year starting in January and as soon as they hit their financial goal, the rest of the year is totally off.
And this is all aside from the new digital nomad model where you literally take your computer and work from the world’s best coffee shops.
I’m just throwing out ideas here, to help you dream.
How you shape your day and your life is up to you.
That’s the kind of flexibility and freedom you get when you’re the boss.
But listen: The only way you can afford to work 4 6-hour days per week and take off as much time as you want and work from anywhere in the world is to be highly focused and self-disciplined in the time you are on the clock.
I can’t spend that time scrolling IG, hopping on every latest trend. I have to give my sole focus to the actions that keep my business strong.
With freedom comes great responsibility.
So, my friend, what will you do with that freedom? What’s the thing you want to have space for in your day or your life, that entrepreneurism can bring you?
For you seasoned entrepreneurs, what have you enjoyed most about that flexibility? Or did you forget that you’re the boss?
I can’t wait to hear what you have to say. Email me.
There’s joy in that freedom. Let’s find it.
I’m gonna pre-apologize right now. Cause this post from Sun Yi’s Instagram is so accurate, it hurts.
Let’s say I want to buy a house in Portugal. It’s been a lifelong dream and I finally feel like I’m in a place in my life where it could reasonably happen soon.
I’m absolutely not jumping on a plane and flying to Lisbon and buying the first house I see.
I’m going to read up on the rules of international house buying. Join an online ex pat community and listen in for advice on fun neighborhoods. Talk to my family.
Then – and this is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART – I’m going to start a conversation with a real estate agent in Porto. That’s when it gets real. And that’s the step we put off.
Because there’s always more research to be done. Another influencer with the one tiny tip that’ll make or break you – better keep scrolling. Right?
Honey, you’ll scroll your whole life away.
The difference between being a wantrepreneur and an entrepreneur is in the balance you strike between researching and doing.
Stop researching and go get a client.
How does anyone get clients? You sell yourself. Talk about your work. Reach out to people who need your services.
That’s when it gets real.
“I want to be an entrepreneur, but I’m scared it won’t work. I’m scared I can’t do it.”
For reals. Those are true legitimate feelings that don’t fully go away, ever. It IS scary.
Now that we’ve settled that, can you view fear as that annoying colleague down the hall and just do your work anyway? Todd in Accounting as been training you for this for years.
There’s just no other way around it. Put yourself out there and focus on getting clients first. You’ll figure out everything else as you go.
“I don’t know what steps are involved – better read yet another CEO’s book.”
Everyone’s path is going to look differently but the one thing you can trust is that, once you start walking, the next step will be revealed to you.
I had just a couple clients under my belt when a prospective and I were emailing back and forth and she said “This sounds great. Do you have a website I can show to my team members?”
No ma’am I do not. But I’ll have one up tomorrow.
The next step shows up at your feet if you just get started.
You build it as you fly.
“I need a lot more experience first.”
Um, how do you think you get experience? You have to go get clients.
You might be thinking, who wants to work with someone so new? You wouldn’t want a surgeon on their first surgery, would you?
I don’t know about that. The best cleaning I ever got was from a dental hygienist who had just graduated. She was well-researched – no one could know more about the most current best practices. And her freshness made her sooooooo careful and detailed.
Listen, your experience will perfectly match someone’s budget. Just go find your someone.
So yes, of course, you need to do some research. But instead of thinking that there’s a research phase and then a doing phase, think about researching and doing simultaneously, back and forth, onward. Both at the same time.
If you want to actually reach those big dreams – that house in Portugal, that business empire, that award-winning YouTube channel – you have to switch to DO mode. Contact the real estate agent, connect to your first client, make your initial video.
Yeah, the first one will suck. So get it out of the way as fast as you can.
So, what’s the next big thing you want to do? The thing you’ve had your heart on but haven’t actually *done* yet? Hit me up for a little pep talk.
Two Phrases Every Entrepreneur Should Know
Would you take a wine recommendation from a teenager? Of course not. People want to partner with someone who has experience.
Which is why the question Tom sent me is so common among those of you considering entrepreneurship: “How much experience would you recommend having before going it on your own doing the consulting route? Do I need to consult beforehand?”
Though it might look like it on the surface, this question is not just for newbies.
Seasoned entrepreneurs who want to expand their empires into new (and perhaps more lucrative) markets run into this same issue.
People pivoting to new fields, despite a decade of experience, face the same fear.
No matter how long you’ve been on the block, you need two key phrases in your entrepreneurial vocabulary:
“In my experience with similar situations, I recommend…”
The purpose of this phrase is to convey confidence to your clientele. You can be trusted. You’ve done this sort of thing before.
All this means is that you need enough experience to say I’ve seen this.
You don’t have to have that experience in the same industry you’re trying to break into right now. In fact, your cross-industry experience is an asset.
You don’t have to have that experience through paid work. Real life grad school projects or free time portfolio development exercises absolutely count here.
But the truth is that even though I’ve been in business for a dozen years and I like to think I’ve seen it all, a client will still surprise me every once in a while. That’s why you need this second key phrase:
“I haven’t run across this yet, but I have some ideas and I’ll do some research and get back to you.”
You don’t need to know e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g but you do need to have the unwavering faith in yourself that you can figure it out.
Talented entrepreneurs can find the answer even if they don’t have it right now. They’re resourceful. They’re also timely – you’ll get those ideas back to your client within 48 hours.
I’ve seen the experience question hold too many would-be successful entrepreneurs back from starting their empires.
How much industry experience did you have before you launched your business? Click here to tell me in an email. My hunch is that it’ll be a very wide range. The path into entrepreneurship has 1,000 different entry points.
Being an entrepreneur is more trendy than ever. More and more people are looking to make money on their own terms while following their passions and keeping their sanity intact. I’m all about this.
Except, like any trend, entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Come to think of it, neither are Crocs, but that’s a topic for another time.
There’s A LOT that goes into the business side of growing an empire.
And in my experience, the things that should stop people from starting their own businesses usually don’t. The inverse is also true: the things stopping most people are misconceptions that need to be trashed.
So what actually should stop you from becoming an entrepreneur? Well, one of the signs that this game isn’t for you is if you’re really only interested in doing the thing you love all the time.
I call this personality the Cake Baker.
The reality is, opening a bakery doesn’t mean you bake cakes all day. And starting your business doesn’t mean you’ll do the one thing you love doing all day long.
You actually wear all the hats in the business. You get to think strategically about growth. You handle the spreadsheets and budgets, decode the legalese in contracts, manage clients (and their expectations), market your tushy off, the list goes on.
If you’re the right person for the job, you see all of that as an exciting opportunity. Cake Bakers see it as a drag.
Wanna just bake cakes all day? Get a job at someone else’s top tier bakery, Babe.