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June 6, 2008

How Perfectionism Kills the Online Entrepreneur

“No, I’m not ready to release my….(fill in the blank here with ezine, ecourse, ebook, blog, website, etc.) because it’s not quite ready. I need to…(fill in with your excuse here: do more work on it….have it edited….review the copywriting, etc.)”

How many times has a statement similar to that come out of your mouth? I know for me that it’s happened more often than I care to recount. I am a recovering perfectionist who used to utter some variation of the above sentence with great regularity.

What I’ve discovered in my time as an Internet entrepreneur is that my need for perfection in my products or marketing materials is simply another excuse to procrastinate. Yep, when I try and convince myself that the ebook needs more copy editing or that my website needs just a few more pages to make it say just what I want it to say, all I’m doing is creating plausible excuses to put something off for a few more days, or even weeks or months. Why? Because inaction is safe — you’re not putting yourself out there to the world to face possible criticism. The longer you excuse yourself from taking action, however, the more difficult it becomes to build a business and create the kind of life you want for yourself.

Don’t let yourself fall for your own fabricated excuses. Stop waiting for perfection. It’s never going to arrive. Better to release something that may not be perfect than to release nothing at all. How much money can you make on an ebook that no one knows about? Last time I checked, it wasn’t much!

Sure, you may fall under the scrutiny of other perfectionists in the Internet world who are gleefully waiting to tear you apart by pointing out your errors. Thank them for their constructive feedback, create a correction log, and let the criticism fall off of you like water off a duck’s back. In my experience, those critics who have the leisure time to point out the flaws of others really aren’t doing much with their own lives and businesses. That’s why they have the free time to correct the errors of others.

The whole notion of how perfectionism was holding me back was aptly illustrated at a Coachville conference I attended several years ago. The late Thomas Leonard, founder of Coachville, had brought up on stage a very successful Internet entrepreneur to speak to us about how he had found a great product to sell online and the process he used to uncover the hungry target market who would pay handsomely for the material he was selling. We were all given the 12-page handout of the long sales letter that was used to sell the product, and many of us were taking copious notes.

However, I noticed the guy next to me, an engineer, wasn’t taking notes. Instead it appeared he was going through the sales letter and was making grammatical and punctuation corrections. He disappeared during our next break, and when I returned to my seat afterwards, I discovered that he had returned as well, but seemed to be highly agitated.

Without waiting for an invitation, he proceeded to tell me what had happened over the break that had gotten him so upset. He showed me his copy of the sales letter and the corrections he had made and said that he’d gone up to the speaker during the break and offered to give him the corrections to the sales letter. The speaker took a look and told him, “No, thanks.”

The engineer couldn’t believe that this speaker wouldn’t take advantage of all the work that he (the engineer) had done to correct the sales copy. The engineer thought the speaker was being rather foolish and apparently told the speaker that he was being short-sighted not to take advantage of the offered corrections.

The speaker informed the engineer that the sales letter in question was making him $67,000 per month in sales and that he had no intention of “fixing” a good thing. Furthermore, the speaker explained that because he had worked so hard on crafting the wording of the sales letter and that the letter was bringing him so many sales that he’d be foolish to tinker with any portion of it.

Apparently the engineer left the conversation with the speaker in a huff and returned to his seat, still steaming, and still convinced that the speaker was making a grave mistake by not taking his copy editing advice. The engineer was so blinded by the need to be perfect and be right that he was blocking his path to online success. I bet today that he’s still tweaking his sales copy or his product and has yet to do anything with coaching business.

So, which do you want to be? The engineer with the grammatically correct sales letter that never sees the light of day, or the Internet entrepreneur making $67,000 per month off a product that has a sales letter with grammatical and punctuation mistakes?

Don’t let your need to be perfect hold you back any longer from taking the action you need to release your product or service to the world. In most cases, taking action, even though it might be a bit flawed, is always better than no action.


Online Business Resource Queen (TM) and Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps independent service professionals learn how to automate their businesses, leverage their expertise on the Internet, and get more clients online. To claim your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit her site at http://www.OnlineBizU.com. Ask Donna an Internet Marketing question at http://www.AskDonnaGunter.com.

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