A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

2009 Goals Update — Perfectionism is Your Worst Enemy


perfectionism is your worst enemy
Sometimes, as entrepreneurs, we need to face up to reality and admit that we’re not where we want to be. This is that post for me. It’s mid-April and I am definitely not where I want to be this year.

Last year, when I stated my goal of making $10,000/month online via writing and creating my own products, I felt it would be a goal that I could accomplish by the end of 2008. When 2009 rolled around, I again felt confident that I would hit the goal quickly. It’s April, I still haven’t hit it, and here’s why: I am being too much of a perfectionist.

Let’s roll back to 2008. I first had the goal of creating a pay site called HardworkingMillionaire.com. Then I decided I didn’t like that name, so I scrapped it and went back to Inspiring Innovators–a domain name I have owned for a while. My desire was to create a site where I could interview top entrepreneurs about their business, charge a small monthly fee, and have a few hundred or a few thousand members. I would do two interviews a month, publish them, have them transcribed, and people would pay something like $8-9/month for them.

I did some interviews and they turned out fantastically well. Doing the interviews was straightforward, and the monthly fee was a bargain for the content my members would be getting. With the help of Richard, my boyfriend, we built out a complete membership site at InspiringInnovators.com and sold a couple of interviews via the Warrior Forum. My interview with Tony Laidig, selling for $7 as a standalone product, sold over 120 copies!

Then I went to a women’s business networking event in San Francisco, and excitedly told them about my new business. Having just sold 120 single interviews, I felt this was a no-brainer. But none of the women seemed that excited about the project. I asked them what they wanted instead, and they said they wanted me to consult with them. That night, I ended up showing them a few Google tricks I know to rank #1, and the said they wanted me to teach them that.

My Business’s Fatal Mistake

This was where I made a fatal mistake. I ended up second-guessing my interview project, and instead tried to create a complex membership site where I would teach people how to dominate the Web. And then things spiraled from there. I hired a copywriter, Chris Haddad (who is amazing!), and worked with him. Chris said Inspiring Innovators didn’t sound like the right name for a membership site dedicated to teaching people online marketing tricks — and he was right! So I spent weeks coming up with a new name, and finally negotiated and acquired BeTheAuthority.com.

I absolutely love the name “Be The Authority”. However, this kind of site takes a significant time investment to launch! I’ve currently spent weeks working on the idea for the site, finally coming up with the following two products:

  • Be The Social Media Authority, a 3-month course that teaches you how to use Twitter and Facebook for business and not just to connect with old friends.
  • Be The Website Authority (working title), a 3-month course that teaches you how to rock Google and get #1 search results for relevant keywords for your business.

These are in high demand from business owners, and I have confidence I can sell them. But they also take some personal time, as part of the package is regular group webinars with me.

Hindsight is 20/20

In retrospect, I should have launched Inspiring Innovators last year and tweaked it along the way. I took my own advice and started talking to people to find out what they want, but I forgot the most critical part — I needed to launch something, and iterate it based on suggestions, not hold off on launching!

Perfectionism took a great, simple business idea and made it into a killer monster — a noose that hung around on my neck and tightened as I talked to more and more people and got more opinions. The more opinions I got, the more frustrated I became; a sure sign that I was going in the wrong direction.

The project has grown out of control. Currently, I am juggling several projects at once, instead of just creating a simple business and promoting it. Worse yet, none of those projects are getting done, and I’m watching more TV than I have in the past — another sure sign that I’m headed down the wrong path with my business.

Are You Heading Down the Wrong Path?

Here’s the scoop. You know you’re heading down the wrong path when…

  • Your business doesn’t excite you. If you’d rather watch TV than work on your business, you’re in the wrong business.
  • You seem to “work” for weeks at a time but don’t release a project. Something, anything, is better than nothing. Release! Ship! Get feedback…but only after you release your first iteration.
  • Your business idea keeps growing, and growing… Your first iteration should be small and simple. Add features later.

I originally intended to launch Inspiring Innovators in January, 2008. It is patently ridiculous that I let this grow completely out of hand instead of getting something out there. If I have any consolation, it is that I know thousands will read this post, and hopefully it will stop a few of you from doing the same thing. Whatever you are working on — release it quickly, even if it doesn’t have everything you need. Your perfectionist instincts may cost you thousands of dollars.

My Commitment

To combat my perfectionist instinct, I WILL RELEASE INSPIRING INNOVATORS WITH ITS FIRST INTERVIEW BY THE END OF THE MONTH! That means I have two weeks (less, actually, as I will be traveling this month) to get it up and running with two interviews, a membership component, a payment system, etc. NO MORE EXCUSES!

Also, since I know there is a ton of interest in Be The Authority, I will release that quickly, too, with one 3-month system available for purchase by May 22. Why May 22? I’m speaking at UnSeminar6, and would love nothing more than to launch it there and honor Pat O’Bryan, as he took a chance on me and gave me my first Internet marketing speaking gig last year.

If there’s one thing I wish I could implant into your brain in big, flashing, red letters, it’s that perfectionism is your worst enemy when it comes to launching a business. Don’t do what I did; it will cost you more money than you will make by launching quickly and iterating.

I currently have completed interviews with marketing maven Ben Mack and blog whiz Steve Pavlina, so those will likely be my launch interviews. I’d appreciate any feedback you have on what you’d like to see on Be The Authority, or any person you would like me to interview for Inspiring Innovators.

See my previous posts about my goals.



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I'm Erica Douglass.
After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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