Perfect is the Enemy of Done

Several years ago, I followed my entrepreneurial drive and decided to build a (non-appraisal related) company based on an idea. The initial idea, I thought, was a good one and provided what, I thought, was a needed service. Because I had been through the business creation process before, I thought I had an idea as to how to proceed. I had also seen enough of my peers fail in their attempts to build businesses from scratch that I made the decision to plan ahead and cover all of my bases. I was often repeating the mantra to myself and others, “I will not launch this company until everything is ready. When all of the dominoes are in place, only then will I tip the first one over.”

appraiser-entrepreneurI am a planner. I make decisions mostly through logic. I have an Evernote account full of ideas and thoughts spanning every topic imaginable. I spent over 18 months planning every minute detail of this new company. I invested countless hours (not to mention money) to putting everything in place and planning for every contingency. I was ready, baby!

The time finally came to pull the trigger and our website went live. Within hours, changes that I had not thought of had to be made. Within days, the entire plan I had spent 18 months developing was out the window.

The phrase ‘analysis paralysis’ is sometimes one I hear bantered about.  In short, it is spending so much time planning, that action is delayed or never made at all. If you are a logical thinker like me, it is easy to do. I often put off needed action so I can contemplate and plan for any and all possibilities. In a cruel twist of irony, when what I have planned for often does not happen, and what does happen is often not ever planned for.

I see this same process played out with those appraisers I coach, whether it be members of my Dream Team Mastermind groups or one-on-one mentoring. I frequently hear clients make needed decisions about a particular problem only to see them spend the next few weeks and months fretting and worrying over that decision rather than just taking the first step.

Within a short time of finally moving forward with my new business idea, the technology for which the idea was based on changed and the company I spent so much time (did I also mention money?) planning for folded. Would it have been a success if I had moved forward sooner than I did? Quite possibly..

What is it you most need to do to take the next step in your business success? What are you spending your free time (and time you should be spending sleeping) worrying about? Most likely, the fears of what might happen will never materialize. Often, just taking the first step (regardless of how small) will put you on the path to more steps and eventually on to accomplishment.

10 thoughts on “Perfect is the Enemy of Done”

  1. As it relates to the appraisal profession, unfortunately the fear most of us had when regulations started to change the way business was done (HVCC), has not only materialized, but has become 10 times worse than many could have imagined. Lower pay, longer hours, increased liability, big brother oversight, flawed technology, ever changing forms, increased AMC presence, software portal fees, increased entry standards, no inner office transfers, no work done by trainees, etc. Under the current environment, many in our profession are taking the first steps toward the bread line. Seek the truth.

  2. Oh c’mon Bill, give it a rest. Dustin is not addressing any particular direction, only a method for getting there. In your case it may be the next step to your demise, to others to their success. Take it for it’s worth and go with it.

    1. Alex, it’s important to judge one by their body of work rather than by a single part. In Dustin’s previous blog a few weeks back “So, You want To Be A Real Estate Appraiser”, the discussion involved a person named John who was attempting to become an appraiser. If John had taken 30 steps by asking 30 other appraisers to supervise him and ALL had said NO, then how many steps must he and other appraisers take to realize our fears are real (see previous comment). When according to the 2015 National Appraiser Survey – Alterra Group LLC, 74.6% are NOT optimistic about the future of appraising, one must be cautious about telling others (John maybe reading) to keep taking steps.

  3. Dustin, what you are saying is so true. I found that taking action overcomes fear, doubt and worry. Whether it be a business decision, buying a car, deciding on a home or choosing the beer du jour. Rarely, do I go back a say, “You should have thought this one though a little.” Just move on and adjust to the circumstances presented by your choices and laugh a little when the unexpected happens.

  4. Good post Dustin. Instead of, “Perfect is the Enemy of Done”, I have heard and chanted pretty much the same saying, “Done trumps perfect.” Your post comes at a good time for me because I’m getting ready to launch my new website for another business. Maybe I will get it done today.

  5. The best first step i took was leaving the staff appraiser environment and starting my own business as an independent fee appraiser. Although it was a plethora of steps, it was my second attempt, with the difference being that this time I had taken the necessary steps to gain the confidence that I could handle any situation – appraisal, business related, or technology related that would arise. In commenting on BJ’s comments, I recently received an email from a local real estate school looking for sponsors for the many applicants that they couldn’t begin classes with until they found someone to mentor them. I thought to myself- “You want me to slow production, expand my overhead greatly under already tight profit margins, be responsible for someone who might damage the reputation of my business and myself, and then pay them an unsustainable salary that would put me out of business, only to have them become my direct competition.” The school wants to make money offering appraisal classes to trainees while I would lose money to train them. This is the current reality of the profession.

  6. Dustin, it seems to me that your story doesn’t support your final conclusion. If you say you planned out, and spent money over an 18th month time frame only to have new technology change your direction, the moral of the story doesn’t seem to be jump in with both feet at an earlier time. If this new adventure kept you worrying in your spare time, and the end result proved you had reason for concern (company folded), the lesson seems to be wait for more information. If you say “most likely the fears of what might happen will never materialize” but yet OTHERS from outside of your control (new technology), in part caused your company to be DOA, then again your caution was justified. Your story suggests to me that although you are a logical planner, future business adventures should encompass looking into more variables and the leap of faith should be delayed and not sped up. I for one will step into the pool one foot at a time, long before I dive head first. On the other hand, if your pool is above ground (Michael M.), then you’ll have a better idea how deep it is before you leap. John, look at more variables and not less when choosing your career path. My wisdom is free, but your time is not (Bill Johnson 09-02-16).

    1. Bill: I can see why you got to this conclusion. I probably did not make myself very clear. Sometimes what is in my head comes out in a bloody mess on the computer screen. My point was I should have jumped OUT of the pool faster. Frankly, the decision to jump in was probably the best one I could have made at the time (given the limited information I was privy to). Once I learned that it was not going to work however, I drug my feet and ended up losing much time and money that could have been utilized in a better fashion. Yes, we should be careful about where we jump, but my point is to not let being careful keep us from ever moving forward.

      1. On a side note Dustin, I feel your pain. In the late 1990s I selected the wrong tech people to help me develop my idea to import market data on a large scale so that I could filter, reconcile, organize, and edit, to my liking. The typing of and individual property analysis was and still is as inefficient today as it was then. My lack of tech understanding caused me time and money and after years of struggles, I put the idea on hold. Years later, although they may have been under development at the same time in other markets (unknown to me), the first month they were available in my area I started to use the program I had envisioned 10 years earlier (Datamaster). Been there done that and have the scares to prove it.

  7. I’m in agreement with Justin. His discussion led me to thinking about my plans to improve the quality of storage in my garage. The garage and its current condition came with the house we bought 5 years ago. There’s some wrapping done with bits and pieces of two-by-fours which were screwed or nailed together in kind of a hodgepodge manner in one corner which I imagine was where the gentleman who had the garage before at his work bench. So I put my work bench over there.

    But over there really isn’t as functional as I would hope it would be and like I said hodgepodge is how my own equipment has ended up being it’s not practical and as that planner that Justin is I have elaborate plans for how to make the garage perfect. I can see it all in my head. I know what goes on this wall I know you rocking that goes over here I know where to put my bicycle I have a better idea for where my ladder should go I can see how the outdoor tools and Hardware that my wife uses for the garden would be best stored along one particular wall I know where our new lighting belongs I know I’d like to have the garage floor painted all of that.

    I bought a few pieces and brackets things that I only need two by fours to to fix I have a new tool bench I have a new rack for some of my tools but of course it’s an assembled in the corner pending where it really belongs in my head along the particular wall which has to be this that and the other. So I’m stuck in my head. I have not moved forward.

    As an appraiser he’s been in many many garages I’ve seen some perfect examples of exactly what I would like to see in my own garage and when I look at them I know I can do that I mean I really can. I planned it all out I know exactly what it should look like. But I really never started doing it. And then that becomes a frustration. And even now I’m confessing to my son I thought procrastination. It messes with me every day I walk out in the garage and go man if I only did this. So I hear you Justin I need to take that first step I think I plan through it pretty well and even if I fumble a little bit I can fix that I just need to get started.

    Thanks Justin if you’re ever in Central North Carolina grab a hammer and help me come fix my garage. I think to like Minds can come together. I’m also thinking about a beautiful new deck across the back I’ve got that all planned too.

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