Progress Over Perfection: Build the Plane As You Fly

Intuitively, I think we all know to go for progress over perfection. But, it’s easier said than done. There’s a tension you feel when building and running your business at the same time. Trying to be perfect at both is unsustainable.

We’re always looking to refine what we’re doing, endlessly tinkering with our products or services or working on things like our social media presence. But, at the same time, we need to get out there, hustle, sell, and fulfill new customer orders or get more clients.

You’ve probably heard the phrase: “building the plane as you fly it.” It may be a cliche, but it’s a way of life for new and aspiring entrepreneurs. 

There are, of course, some things that need to be built before other things. In the plane metaphor, you better have things like a pressurized cabin, wings, and fuselage before you invest time in cushy first class seats and drink service. The goal is to get that bird off the ground, everything else can wait. In other words, you better know what your priorities are, so that you can focus your time and attention on the right work to get your business off the ground. Again, progress over perfection.

That’s where a strategy can be a huge help. Even at the early stages of building a business, strategy is essential. It’s a guide to help you aim and focus. It’s a way to eliminate distractions and to say what matters and what doesn’t matter (at least not right now). Don’t have a strategy? Let’s talk.

Progress over perfection
Progress over perfection

Progress over perfection.

Even if you don’t have a full strategy to guide your efforts, that’s ok. You can still be intentional with your time and effort. Here are 5 tips to consider as you build and fly the plane at the same time. 

Tip #1: run the experiment.

A good portion of your effort should be focused on making sure you know what you’re actually working toward and if it’ll pay off. In other words, do you have a business model that’s profitable, sustainable, and/or scalable? If you don’t know yet, what might you do to find out? What experiments could you run? 

Tip #2: interact with consumers.

If you’re not solving an urgent problem or fulfilling a clear need for your consumer, you may have more homework to do. It’s critical to empathize with your consumer so you can fully support them. How could you get to know their hopes, fears, obstacles, and dreams? What questions might you ask them to learn more about their lives? 

Tip #3: do that inner work. 

How we think and feel about our skills, goals, and selves has a direct impact on our ability to get things done. Confront your fears. Identify any limiting beliefs you might hold about yourself and the world around you. If you know what’s driving you, you’re more likely to create goals that you can stick to and grow your business sustainably. What’s your plan to look in the mirror and reflect on what you see? 

Tip #4: start with why

Reconnect with your why on an ongoing basis, so that you can more easily call balls and strikes. If you’re doing anything, make sure you know how it ladders up to your larger purpose. It’ll also help you stick with it when things get tough. What inspired you to start this business in the first place? How might you stay connected to that story? 

Remember, it’s normal to have to build and fly the plane at the same time. That tension you’re feeling? It’s the nature of bringing an idea to life. Prioritize. Stay organized and focused on your goals. Make progress. And, you’ll be fine. 

Progress over perfection means we’ll make mistakes.

And, that’s ok. Learn more.

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