Done is better than perfect

Startups compare themselves always with big successful companies like Google, Facebook and Apple. Those companies are so damn perfect. They have everything in place, it just works, and they are just amazing. They shine. Everything is perfect, polished, fast, shiny and elegant.

So, logically, if you want to be big and successful, you have to have a perfect product, solution or service. You have to be perfect.

WRONG.

It’s not true. Here is why.

Startups need cash, especially bootstrapped ones (bootstrapped = no outside funding, you start with 0€ in your bank account and build up everything from the ground up). Cash is king. You have costs every month. Wages, servers, an internet connection, whatever. It’s a given fact that every month, you need a few thousand of dollars to get things going. If you don’t have a few thousands of dollars IN each month, then you’ll be bankrupt soon. Game over.

Now, if you start making things “perfect” before selling them, you postpone the cash IN. Your focus is in other things then in cashflow. A startup going for perfection is a startup focussing on the wrong thing. The very most important thing in a startup is to get cash in. Period. A big company like Google and Apple has other priorities then hunting cash. But you, you are a little startup. You no Google.

Getting money from customers for things that are not perfect, is awesome. People are willing to pay for a non perfect product. Think about it. Your product is so-so, but still people pay for it. Wait…that means that you really scratch their itch, no? If they even pay you for a non perfect solution, imagine how much you could charge if you DO make your product perfect. Wow.

Charging for your minimum viable product that is far from perfect is a good reality check. If people are ready to pay for it, it really means you are into something good. Go on, keep on charging, and use your revenue to improve your product. One step closer to “perfection”.

Now, imagine that you are afraid to hunt customers and charge money for it, since you feel that your product is not yet “perfect”. Compared to Facebook, Google and Apple…your product sucks. So, instead of launching or showing it to anyone, you get back to your desk, and polish it. You make it harder better faster stronger (Hey, did I just quite Daft Punk?). You spend years to make it perfect.

And after years of finetuning, it is perfect. It shines. It is super beautiful. Awesome. Super fast. So you launch…

…to find out that no body was waiting for your “great idea”. But everyone likes the logo and the nice fonts you use. Auwww.

Better to fail early and often. The sooner you fail, the less expensive the failure is.

Get things done. Ship them. Go for the “good enough” and then take on the next thing. While you go for the “perfect” preparation of your business cards, logo, website, strategy, product, color scheme, presentation and introduction video, your competitor is already signing deals.

Follow your primary goals, and do the minimum to reach them. For a startup, the primary goal should be: get a paying customer. Now do the MINIMUM to get paying customers.

The problem is that lots of people do the MAXIMUM to get paying customers. Then they spend their time on secondary things (like shiny business cards), then they get short in cash, then they get out of cash, then they go bankrupt.

Do the minimum. Done is better than perfect.

Author: Pieter Eerlings

http://www.linkedin.com/in/pietere http://www.last.fm/user/pietereerlings

1 thought on “Done is better than perfect”

  1. Agreed. Get your stuff out there as early as possible. I think this even applies to the enterprise, not just startups; get your projects out there when you think they add _some_ value, iterate, improve, ship, rinse and repeat. It’s also fine to pull the plug after a little while; at least you didn’t waste more time building sometime nobody cared for.

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