A few years ago I was talking to the VP of Marketing from a multimillion dollar company about breaking into the feminine hygiene category at Walmart. We talked about consumer brand loyalty and what some of the challenges and opportunities were going to be for him. “Women are brand loyal in fem hy,” or something similar was the accepted attitude at that time.
He was aware of that; but then he said something I’ll never forget: “That’s true, but that’s an incomplete statement. They are brand loyal until they switch.”
A statement can be true, but it can also be incomplete.
“Done is better than perfect.” You’ve heard it. You’ve said it. You’ve probably even applied it to your own work or life, especially if you’re the owner of a start-up. I get it. Don’t get wrapped up in analysis paralysis. Keep things going and move onto the next task at hand. Just get it out there.
I get it, but I disagree.
“Done is better than perfect,” is true, but it’s an incomplete statement.
My take: Doing things right and doing them well is better than done.
Here are some reasons why you need to ditch the DIBTP attitude as you scale and what you can do about it:
It sets the bar low in both work and life
Would you allow your accountant to say at the end of each month, “Invoicing is all set. The numbers don’t add up, but at least they’re out the door.” Would you let your copywriter say, “The white paper you contracted is in your inbox. It’s not fully edited and the formatting is off, but it’s done.” Don’t forget that the tools and attitudes we use in our work are the same tools and attitudes we often, knowingly or not, use in our personal life. Would you accept a DIBTP attitude from your doctor? Would you accept that from your attorney? “The custody agreement my lawyer drew up only gives me one weekend per month with my kid, but at least we didn’t have to go to court.” Would you accept that in your sex life? “[insert whatever excuse], but at least it’s done, right sweetie?”
It puts the wrong foot forward
I know how important it is to keep making progress towards achieving your goals. Have a new service idea? Just get it out there. New product? Don’t test. Just build it along the way. New offering? Just market it. We need to be done and get things out there so we can keep our funnel full, close some deals; and then we’ll have the revenue to go back and fix things later. I get it. Time is money. Time is short. Time is the one thing no one can make more of. Too often, however, I’ve seen entrepreneurs rush to get things done only to wonder days later why they’re not seeing any traction. Their funnels didn’t maintain design scent. Their ads weren’t targeted. The shopping cart didn’t work. The product wasn’t tested.
Not taking the time to do things right is setting yourself up for failure. Think of it like a dance. If you’re new and you’re not willing to tread lightly; or you’re unwilling to be led by someone who’s a better dancer, you’re going to step on some toes. If you step on too many toes too often, then no one is going to want to dance with you especially if you are charging them to do it. Take the time to learn a few moves. Thoughtful deposits on the front end will deliver larger withdrawals on the backend.
It shoots business owners in the foot
Speaking of feet…Entrepreneurs put themselves in this position all of the time, especially as they start to scale for the first time. They’ve been doing everything by themselves for so long, potentially for years, that it’s now emotionally and psychologically challenging for them to hand work off to someone else and let them do it. They’ve had that DIBTP attitude for so long (and they’ve had to in order to get their business going), that they still have their hands in what they’ve hired someone else to do. This puts their hires in the position of having to do a job that they were hired to do all the while the owner of the company is doing it for her at 2 AM. That’s a defeat for a hire; and when scaling, you can’t leave your hires feeling defeated by you.
Entrepreneurs need trust to avoid backsliding
Entrepreneurs need to trust that their hires are going to do the job they were hired them to do. Face it, the people you need to support you as a start-up are starting from behind. You probably don’t have the capital to pay them what they’re worth on the open market. You probably don’t have much time to onboard them. You probably don’t provide full benefits. This creates some investment, allegiance, and commitment challenges for your hires. If these challenges exist, and you’re mucking around in their workflow, don’t expect them to commit to your vision for long. Trust they are going to do the job you hired them to do without looking over their shoulder each day.
Entrepreneurs need patience to avoid backsliding
Entrepreneurs need to understand that if they’ve come this far, then they’re thoroughbreds. They are special people that stand out from others who are starting their own businesses. Being a thoroughbred, however, means that they are faster than most everyone on the track. Employees of start-ups are not going to run as fast as their owners. They’re starting from behind in terms of your brand’s vision and values in addition to the things I mentioned above. If they could sprint as fast as their owners, they’d be competition and not employees.
Project management apps don’t work
Get it done and track it. I’ve seen this too many times. I get it, but project management apps don’t work for start-ups. This is because everyone is wearing multiple hats to grow the business. There are not fully flushed out departments with multiple employees that can create group boards or task lists. Starting and stopping to manage tasks in a separate application is in itself another task added on to an employee’s already overcrowded plate. I completely understand the need for ownership to keep abreast of what is going on on all levels of the business. It’s absolutely critical to know where dollars are being spent; but I’ve seen this multiple times over the course of the last 4 years. In an irony of ironies, do you know who wasn’t keeping up with the tasks in the app? The owner. The owner wasn’t using the app to keep abreast of what was going on with the company. From a hire’s point of view, you just wasted my time; time that you are holding me accountable for. You put another task on my plate as a critical function to the business and you never did anything with it. You asked me to run out and get you a latte and you never even drank it. Where are an entrepreneur’s hires’ time being spent? Sometimes it’s simply wasted on the owner and a hire who is starting from behind is going to be reluctant to say something about it.
Email is coming back
I read an article recently about a resurgence of email as a primary communication channel between a brand and its consumers. Why? It has a higher click through rate. It has more users than Facebook. It has a higher conversion rate. It’s personal. This is the most relevant point. Email is personal. Project management applications are not. As a start-up, every penny counts. You don’t need to pay $100/month for personal communication you can have for free. As an owner, create an expectation that each hire email a quick checklist each morning of what is on tap for that day. It should include what went sideways the previous day, what the focus is for that day, and what is needed to get other tasks done. A bullet list of one-liners is all that’s needed to get the job done. Literally.
Hire an Operations person.
Have you ever considered that the biggest problem in your business is you? Seriously. You’re the one in the way. You’re the one looking over everyone’s shoulder. You’re the one asking people to be accountable for their time using overpriced tools. You’re the one pushing for releases that aren’t ready. The solution is to get out of the way. Hire an Operations person who will keep track of all of the work that needs to be done; who will serve as a buffer between you and your hires; who you trust to have your back; who you will actually listen to; and who will be a leader for your team.
Trust your team. Be patient. Find a leader. Use your resources to get things done the right way the first time. “Done is better than perfect” is a true statement; but it’s incomplete. If you don’t do it well and don’t do it the right way, you’re going to find yourself putting revenue generating activities on hold to go back and fix what should never have left the factory floor in the first place.
In the long run, you’re going to spend more resources than you would have initially. You’re going to wonder where things went wrong; and that’s a painful, expensive place to be.
Guest post by Mr. Megan Z. Perez