Back in 2018 I spoke at an event called Make It Your Business, the purpose was to inspire women to believe in themselves and follow their small business dreams. Also speaking that day was our then Prime Minister, Theresa May, and what she picked up on from my speech and then quoted was “As Chloe says, it’s all about progress not perfection”.
So, how did I come to use and live by this statement? Well, I’ve been running my business for more than 12 years now. Throughout those 12 years I have also raised a family of 5 kids, now all older teenagers, at times also held additional day jobs and generally juggled a lot of balls. At certain points earlier on in my journey I fell foul to the need for perfection. Because I never really had that much time I felt slightly paralysed and like I couldn’t move forward with things because they just weren’t ready, or I wasn’t quite ready, or something else had to be done before I could put anything out there. It was disastrous and ultimately held me back. Once I released that done is better than perfect I started to see progress for myself and my business, meaning I could ditch the day jobs and see my business and confidence soar.
What does Progress not Perfection really mean? So often we put our focus on everything being ‘just right’, and conditions being ‘perfect’ before we can allow ourselves to take action. We can feel horribly visible and vulnerable when it comes to putting ourselves out there as business owners, and we are, understandably, reluctant to make any noise until everything is absolutely spot on.
Now, I’m not advocating a careless or sloppy approach. Of course we need to ensure we are happy with our messaging. But the point is, we really do tend to overthink and be self-critical in our approach, the result is that we remain stuck, doubt ourselves and delay putting things out there in case it’s not good enough.
The sad reality is that this sort of procrastination, resulting from a lack of confidence, can kill so many dreams. We’re worried about failing and judgement from others. But if you’ve got a message and a talent to share, then you need to get it out there. If that message or skill is sound and can help others, then having everything polished to perfection is unnecessary.
As you can see, it’s a vicious circle. We start out with a lack of confidence. A touch of Imposter Syndrome. We have a little chat with ourselves here and there and say “what if they think it’s not good enough?”. That voice gets louder and leads us to procrastinate and put off the tasks that would allow us to make some progress. The lack of progress and the need for perfection means there’s little or no momentum. This in turn fuels feelings of doubt and the lack of confidence. And round we go. Or worse, we give up.
The small steps
So where do you start in achieving the Progress not Perfection mindset? Taking a bold step. Writing a short blog post. Publishing your website when it’s not quite perfect but definitely good enough to do the job. Doing a short live video on social media. Contacting that person you admire and want to learn from. Any small steps that allow you to feel a sense of progress will gradually build that portfolio of evidence that you can do this. You’re good enough as you are. You don’t need to be perfect.
Top tips for achieving Progress not Perfection.
- Be sure about your vision and goals.
Get a clear picture of where you are going. How do you want your business to look in the future? What is it you love doing? Where are your skills and your passion? You can then use this as a solid check-in point when it comes to goal setting and also getting your message out there. It will also help if you are asked questions or you want to talk about what you’re doing.
- Share your ideas with a close circle of trusted supporters first
It can be horribly intimidating to start putting your message out there. And perhaps you don’t need to jump straight into an unknown audience. It’s always wise to know who your supporters and cheerleaders are. The tribe around you who want you to succeed, and who will give you honest, constructive feedback. Start there and build on it until you’re ready for the bigger audience.
- Start small and build from there
You don’t have to do everything at once. I think many entrepreneurs starting out have a feeling that they must have everything ready straight away. Not so. It’s fine to build it up gradually. You don’t need to have all the social media channels, the blogs, the website, the workshops all ready to go at once. Pick one thing, the most logical thing for your business to progress, and get that up and running before moving on to the next. This is a sure-fire way to show yourself what you’re capable of, and to build that confidence.
- Build some positive reinforcement into your day.
Remember to be your own friend, and avoid criticising yourself or putting yourself down. None of us succeed if we constantly belittle our efforts. Think about how you champion your friends. Do you insult them and tell them they probably won’t succeed? No!! You’re their biggest supporter – so be yours too. I know it’s hard, and often alien, but start by giving yourself a big dose of positivity and self-love when you get up in the morning. Then at night, revisit your day, congratulate yourself on where you did a good job. Over time it’s possible to create a more positive and kind narrative that allows us to make that progress.
- Don’t compare yourself to others.
This one is a killer. One of the biggest temptations with perfectionism is to look at what others are doing, and decide that actually, you’re really not good enough. You ARE good enough. None of us are perfect – not those people you’re comparing yourself to either! Keep your eye on your own journey, your own business, your own talents, and keep making progress.
Time to take action
Where are you aiming for perfection and actually holding yourself back? Think about what progress looks for you as an entrepreneur and go about taking positive action and recognising where that takes you. A life without perfection could very well be a life that moves you forward.