Are You Being A Perfectionist? Here’s How To Tell


You fear shipping because you fear failure. If you’ve got your product but tinker with it, never releasing, you’re seeking a fall. Maybe not consciously, but that’s what you’re doing. You’re letting yourself fail before you get any negative feedback.

Perfectionism is eating you. And its victory only hurts the more you listen to it. Waiting for the perfect time is not a plan, it’s not a business, and it’ll not make you money.

But how do you know if you’re simply being precious and not seeing real flaws? How can you judge something like that?

Well, allow me to help. 

Here are some tips to decide.

The first question is: are other people getting their products out the door around you and succeeding? I’m not trying to make you compare yourself to others—that’s a different demon, as nasty as perfectionism. I’m asking if you feel like worse, uglier, shoddier, less functional products than yours are succeeding.

This is not to encourage being judgmental. Be honest about things. But if yes, those products are worse, then you’re not only being a perfectionist, but you’re also denying the market your improved version! There are customers who could already have gotten your better product! 

The second question is: would anyone else notice the changes you want to make? Don’t just ask this question. Test it. With real people. And don’t try to sneakily draw their attention or prep them. Get honest reactions—from many people—and if none say a thing, you’re in your head. In most markets, you’re not here to impress the sticklers and complainers. You want lots of sales, not just a few from the aggressive. You’re trying to get a product for people who want it. So, let the expected buyers tell you what they think!

And finally, our third mental check: what changes are you making in pursuit of “finally good enough?” Are they very tiny changes? Be honest. Have you been tweaking the font repeatedly or changing the color of a UI element? If you use a metaphorical or maybe literal eyedropper to adjust things, then you’ve gone down the dark hole. Unless a slight edge in numbers is crucial to success, like selling computers or cars, you’re wasting time. Even comparison shoppers aren’t looking that closely. I know perceived flaws jump at you—but they are unique to your eye. No one else notices. 

Now, there’s nothing wrong—at all—with wanting to make quality stuff. I encourage you to throw yourself at excellence. 

But I also encourage you to meet deadlines, stick to goals, trust good-faith feedback, and get your product out the door. You can tinker forever. Some fail for that very reason. You must leap. No improvement, change, touchup, will rid you of fear. You can still take the swing while shivering in your boots. 

A business sells something. So, sell it. If you fail, learn and sell better. That’s all there is to it.