Tinker don’t perfect

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I’ve spoken to several entrepreneurs this week as well as spent some time thinking about my past endeavors, and one thought keeps popping in my head: “tinker, don’t perfect.”   When I look back on some things that I’ve worked on, some of them things I REALLY was  passionate about (have some thoughts about passion, but that’s another post), I realize that a common theme was I was trying to finish them before I started them.  A good example was All is Well.

My basic plan and goal with All is Well was to take an this image that my sister had found after my mom had passed away (to the right) and put it on t-shirts using cafepress, create a simple website to tell the story and sell the shirts, then split the proceeds between the company and several causes my mom cared about.  It quite frankly was a simple

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process, one that could have been wrapped up in a week or two.  And I was very close to doing just that…until I had a problem.  The programmer I was working with had basically agreed to put the site together for a very low rate because of the nature of the project.  Unfortunately they got stuck on one issue with cafepress and integrating it within wordpress. Now at this time you could actually buy the t-shirts on cafepress (in fact you still can) but I became obsessed with the site being perfect before I told anyone about it.  So I waited, and waited, and waited, and slowly I realized the programmer had moved on to something else.  The 2 week project became a month long project, which became a 3 month long project, and now a 2 year project.  With each passing day,  I beat myself up more for it not being completed, perfect, and live.  And the more I beat myself up about it, the less time I wanted to spend on it.

Now I will say that there is certainly a whole other layer of issues related to this particular project, and a lot of emotions attached to it, but the point I’m trying to make here is that I was afraid to do anything until I thought it was perfect.  If I had just been willing to accept that perfection, if ever possible, comes with time and tinkering, I most likely would have just gone with what I had, or actually gone with the simplest path to what matters: spreading the message through selling shirts.  So I guess there are 2 lessons I’m seeing here: 1.) tinker, don’t perfect 2.) remember what’s important. What’s the goal?  Don’t get bogged down on all sorts little things that in the end don’t mean all that much to what you’re trying to do.

So whatever you’re working on, give yourself a break.  It is not going to be perfect right away if ever.  But you’re better off playing and sharing and testing, than hiding and perfecting.  Get out there and see what happens.

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