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How to Beat Procrastination by Perfectionism

Lesson 3

Sometimes, the problem with shipping is that you can't get started. But sometimes, the problem is that you do a lot of work, but you can't get finished. You never feel like your product is good enough, so you keep working, tinkering, tweaking etc.

This is a big problem and a very common form of entrepreneurial procrastination. Here are the steps you can take to prevent it:​

Personal KPI: Change What You Measure

A KPI is a "key performance indicator" - it's what you choose to measure your progress by. The problem is, if you don't carefully pick your KPI, if you just measure your progress by the obviously available indicators, you're setting yourself up for failure.

Personal KPI Action Steps

  • Make a list of goals that matter the most for your business' progress and success. Typically, those are things like: revenue generated, number of sales, leads generated, customer happiness measured by NPS or other score.
  • Pick only one or two top priority goals to focus on.
  • For each of the goals, trace back the steps that cause the outcome, until you reach something you have 100% control over. For example: you can't control how much revenue your business generates. But you can examine what marketing channels contribute the most to revenue and then examine which actions you can take to increase results from those channels (e.g. creating and A/B testing more ads, publishing more content around a certain topic,...).
  • For these actions you can take, set clearly measurable goals (e.g. number of sales calls made, number of posts published, number of hours spent writing, number of A/B tests started). That's your personal KPI. This is what you need to measure and track over time.

We change what we measure, whether we try to or not. By focusing on and measuring the right things, you make it much easier for yourself to make real progress towards your goals. And as you make more efficient progress, you'll find it easier to actually ship what you're working on.

Focus on Output & Quantity

The problem with procrastination by perfectionism is that you're focused on the wrong thing. You're placing your focus on the immediate, short term outcome. Instead, you should reframe and focus on the longer term goal of getting really good at what you do.​

I can't overstate how important it is to start producing at quantity.

Focus on Quantity - Action Steps

  • Review your main goal from the first lesson.
  • Ask yourself: what do you need to get good at, to reach this goal? An example could be: I want to create and sell an online course. I need to get good at creating training material (like online videos) that explain something clearly and help my audience take action.
  • Do the thing you want to get good at regularly and at volume. For the example above: create a video tutorial on some subject you know stuff about, every day.
  • A great tool to use for this is the 30 day challenge: challenge yourself to deliver something that is related to the skill you want to build, every day for 30 days.

Shift Your Focus from You to Your Audience

It's easy to get stuck in procrastination by perfectionism when you're worried about yourself. Worried about how people will judge you, worried that you're not good enough to teach something or create a product, worried that your product won't succeed if it's not perfect etc.

It can be transformative to shift your focus to ​your audience - to other people - instead.

Shift Your Focus - Action Steps

  • Write down what problem you want to solve for people, with your product.
  • Write down how your customer's life will be better, once they use your product.
  • Now, ask yourself: who are you depriving, by not shipping your product? Who are you serving, as long as you keep your product to yourself because it's not quite perfect enough? Could you create something right now that would help some people with something? And wouldn't that be better than letting all those people wait for who-knows-how-long, so that they can eventually get a better product?
  • Finally, ask yourself: couldn't you ship something useful now and still ship a better version of it later? Would shipping an imperfect version of your product now really take away from shipping a better version in the future?

Get Someone Else to Launch for You

Do you enjoy creating your product and making it better and tinkering away at every possible detail? Would you much rather keep tinkering than launch your product and do all the marketing and sales stuff?

In that case, teaming up with someone, so you can be the creative and they can be the marketer could be the perfect solution for you.

There's no action step here, because if you don't already have a person to work with, summarizing how to find a good partner for your business would take up more space and time than we have, here (may be a topic for future courses and podcast series, though). If you already do have someone you can work with, it's simply a matter of delegating. Even if neither of you are experienced marketers, simply splitting the responsibilities will help make this happen. If it's one person's job to launch and market the product, it makes shipping a lot easier.​

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