How perfectionism cost over $200k in lost revenue.

Done is better than perfect.

This is my business motto now.  I work hard to live by it every day.

Why you ask? 

Being a perfectionist does have its benefits.

It is important to make sure you’re producing quality products and services for sure. When I’ve created products and had them manufactured, I am meticulous about all the small details. Those details are what sets your product apart and ensures good quality. I work my butt off to make sure my work is great and pay attention to small things other miss.

But there is a dark side. Being a perfectionist can be paralysing. 

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Perfectionism has often caused delays in my businesses over the years, not to mention an insane amount of stress from things being pushed to the last minute while I’ve tried to get them just right.

Worse.  Sometimes the pursuit of perfection has stopped things from coming to fruition altogether.

Can you relate?

Have you ever wanted to start something, a new product, new course, writing a book, launching a new website, a blog or starting a new service?

But not quite got there?  

Perhaps you wanted to tweak the details, add more depth, change the colours or improve the layout? 

As a result of the “fine tuning” of your website, blog, course, product or service - did it mean nobody knew about it for weeks or months (or years!) or maybe it never came to life at all? 

It is surprisingly common and I am sure has cost businesses everywhere a crazy amount of money.

I still struggle with this sometimes, but I now I have a constant mantra in my head reminding me that done is better than perfect

Perfect really is the enemy of good.

The reason that is my mantra, is because my perfectionism literally cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue in my last company.  

To be honest, I feel a little ill when I own up to that, but hopefully you can learn from my mistake. 

My company sold cloth nappies - they were the top Australian brand at the time. They were insanely popular and sales were so high we could barely keep up.

Whilst the different nappies were our core product and the main item we sold, we were regularly asked if we could selling a matching wetbag - which is an accessory item - a waterproof bag to put the nappies in when you are out.  

Of course we will, I promised. Let me design that.

And I set out to create the most innovative and amazing wetbag the world had ever seen.

The nappies were so popular because of the innovative design, so I thought the wetbag should be innovative and brilliant too. 

Only thing is, in my pursuit of creating the best ever wetbag, we weren’t selling any wetbags at all.  

Our customers were buying the nappies from us, then getting the wetbags elsewhere. 

Crazy! 

Crazier is that this went on for over 18 months! I was so busy with running the business, I didn’t design the most perfect ever wetbag. Each time I tried I wasn’t happy with it and wanted to do better. 

As a result, all that was happening, was precisely nothing. 

Eventually, the wetbag requests became overwhelming and all the staff kept asking when we were going to have a wetbag I decided to make a super simple bag as an interim measure, just so we had something available for sale to meet the requests from our customers.

The bag we sold was not innovative or special or the best ever wetbag, it was simply a rectangle of fabric sewn together with a zip. Plain, but functional. I created them in an afternoon after just a few prototypes.

As it turned out, that simple construction also meant it was very cheap to produce, so our wetbag had the best gross margin out of any product we produced. It was actually a bit of a cash cow.

The craziest part, those “simple” wetbags sold like hot cakes, all our customers loved them!

In the first 12 months, we sold over $250k worth of of them and even more in the years after which was amazing. 

But it made me think.

How much money did we lose by not selling them for almost two years! 

I’m sure it would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for sure (on a product with an insanely good GP - so it was a LOT of straight up profit lost as well).

If only I had just done it, instead of trying to make it perfect ;)

Funnily enough, I never created the “perfect” wetbag in the end. All my innovative designs weren’t cost effective to produce and the simple bags were so popular, there was no need. 

So now. I just do it.

I get it done! I can always improve upon it and perfect it later but I say done is better than perfect almost every time.

So my advice it to get your website launched, your book written, your new product developed. Create your course, your blog or your new service offering.

Even if it’s not yet perfect.

Future you will thank you for it.


Sue x