THE BLOG
05/27/2016 12:18 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

5 Ways to Defeat Your No. 1 Business Enemy

2016-05-27-1464353738-9400330-photodune12096037angrywomanshowingfistss.jpg
(Photo source: PhotoDune)

What's the biggest obstacle in your entrepreneurial or business journey? Lack of time? Lack of resources? Lack of experience?

The answer may surprise you, but the thing that holds many of us back the most is perfectionism.

Perfectionism is your No. 1 enemy when it comes to getting things done in business. That feeling that everything has to be perfect, and nothing is ever truly finished.

When you're a perfectionist, it seeps into everything you do. You'll obsessively plan out a project before starting. You'll take too long on a task, trying to get everything just right. And everything in between will be filled with stress.

The funny part is, you'll never be perfect. It's impossible. So why waste so much time and energy chasing it?

Letting go of perfectionism doesn't mean you quit trying. It doesn't mean settling for mediocre. It's simply a shift in thinking, a change in focus. One that will ultimately make you more successful, since you'll have more time to spend on the things that matter.

You don't have to make every shot to win the game. And you don't have to do every little thing right to succeed in business.

But how do we beat our need for perfectionism?
Here are 5 tips that will get you started.

1. Start at the Beginning

If you want to be perfect, you have to be prepared. And as perfectionists, we spend way too much time on that preparation stage.

We plan out every little detail, from content to color schemes. But after spending hours or days or months deciding between lime green to chartreuse, we realize something -- we haven't even started!

We're worried about what font to use on our website, when we haven't even bought a domain name or paid for hosting.

"The beginning is the most important part of the work." -- Plato

Stop planning, and start doing. The next time you have a project to work on, don't try to lay out every step from start to finish.

Find the first step. And do it. Start. Begin. Go.

2. Learn As You Go

One of the reasons we put off starting is that we think we need to know everything about everything before we begin anything.

We think we have to be an expert on web design before we even download a Wordpress theme.

Instead of trying to become a professional before you even begin, learn as you go. Figure out how to do the first step, then the second step, then the third step, and so on.

Fill the holes in your knowledge as they arise. Not only will this help you get started, you'll only spend time learning the things you really need to know, rather than stuff you never end up using.

3. Stop When You're Finished

You started your project, you learned as you went, and now you're finally finished.

Well, to a normal person, you're "finished." But for a perfectionist, our work is never really done.

We'll look over it a thousand times. Tweak this and tweak that. Throw the whole thing away and start from scratch.

Eventually some kind of deadline forces us to stop, and we reluctantly hand over what we have.

When it's all said and done, we spend an extra 10 hours making a 5 percent improvement that no one but us will actually even notice.

When something is done, it's done. Learn to let go. Stop chasing the impossible "perfect," and settle for "finished."

4. Let Go of Fear

You may think, "but perfectionism just means I want to be great!" But that's not true.

At the core of perfectionism lies fear. Fear of failure, fear of judgment, fear of ourselves. We think if everything on our website is just perfect, there's no way our business can fail. If everything is just perfect on our product's packaging, there's no way anyone won't like it.

Fortunately, you can learn to move past these fears with a shift in your thinking.

Look at it this way. If this project fails, what will happen? Not what you fear will happen, but what will really happen.

You're not going to lose your business because of one mistake. You're not going to go bankrupt because of one failed business. You're not going to die because of one bankruptcy.

Even if you fail spectacularly at what you're doing now, it's not the end of the world. You'll pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes, and life will go on.

Sure, that may be scary, but when you look the absolute worst case scenario in the face and accept it, it helps. You'll find yourself starting to relax -- at least a little bit.

And when the worst case scenario ultimately doesn't happen, you'll realize how silly those fears were in the first place.

5. Rely on Other People

Another thing many perfectionists struggle with is relying on other people. We want to do everything ourselves, so we can get it just how we want it.

And in turn, we get a lot less done. And we use our valuable time focusing on smaller things that we could delegate to someone else, rather than the really big things that require our expertise.

If you need a business partner, an employee, or a contractor, choose one that knows what they're doing. And then let them do it. Trust them.

That doesn't mean you can't check up on them after, but let go of the need to do everything yourself.

Perfectly Imperfect

Remember, perfect isn't possible. So why let it stress you out?

Learning to accept "good enough" will save you time, improve your business, and ultimately give you priceless piece of mind. You'll get more done, and enjoy doing it.

Are you a perfectionist? What's one time where perfectionism held you back?

Paula Speights is a self-proclaimed design geek and total Disney fangirl. By day she's a design whisperer & visual hype man that caters to entrepreneurs and small businesses over at Dizzle Graphics. www.dizzlegraphics.com