What Price Perfection?

When it comes to establishing and growing your online business, be that as an affiliate marketer or product owner, there are several pitfalls to avoid.

Most of us fight procrastination on a regular basis.

Some fear failure while others fear success.

And then there is the ever-present learning curve — what some call “information overload”.

But perhaps the most insidious enemy of all when it comes to succeeding online is …


It’s true and oh so subtle.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a “perfectionist” read on to see how this all-too-human tendency might be hurting your productivity.

Here are but a few examples, taken from real life.

  • We won’t publish that article until every word is just right.
  • We won’t buy that solo ad because we are just not sure that the list we have chosen or the ad copy we’ve written (or been given) is THE best list possible.
  • We won’t release that product because we know we could make it better if we just had enough time.
  • We won’t contact that JV partner because we feel our previous work was not good enough or we are not important enough.

Please understand that I’m not throwing stones here. Nor am I saying that quality does not matter because it does!

But I am saying that most of my consulting clients and online friends have not moved ahead as well as they could have because they waited.

  • Waited to make things better with just one more revision.
  • Waited until the time was just right.
  • Waited to see how the market was going.
  • Waited to see what the competition was doing.
  • Waited to see what big launch was coming next.

They lost ground because they waited. They lost momentum because they waited.

They lost money because they waited.

And they’re not alone.

You see, I suffer from perfectionism too … big time.

In fact, I just checked my “articles in draft” folder and discovered I have 176 DRAFT articles.

That means I’ve spent time on these articles but have not yet seen the fruit of that effort.

And that is just what perfectionism does — it robs us of the reward of our labor while encouraging us to put in more time, more effort and check things just “one more time”.

As a result we are less productive, less profitable and suffer more spiritual and mental anguish as well.

So how can we defeat this monster?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I can and will share what works for me.

The first step is realization

Realize that perfection is myth. It doesn’t really exist. Nothing on this earth is perfect.

If something was perfect it would not stay that way long as we live in an ever-changing world.

Recognize that perfection is impossible to achieve. No matter how hard you try or how long you take things (or people) cannot be made perfect.

Recognize too that perfection is the enemy of the good, and great.

Patton said “a good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

I have found this to be so very true in life.

How many great ideas have you had that never saw the light of day because you waited to make them perfect?

H0w many times have you had a great idea but not taken action and then seen someone else doing YOUR idea later? Wow that burns.

For me it’s far too many.

The next step is identification

Make a list of the projects you have going where perfection might be holding you back.

Once you have your list, choose four projects you really want to pursue. Not 10 or 50 but four.

Once you have your list of four, define the next action that can be taken in under 10 minutes to move that project ahead.

Now put these actions on your calendar for sometime in the next week.

Doing them first thing in your day is often best.

After you have a taste of this productivity either keep it going or embrace a full-out goals program like the one I use.

Click here for more details. Not an affiliate link, just a hearty recommendation.

The next step is choosing to enjoy the imperfect

If perfectionism runs deep in you it might be wise to spend some time thinking about the things you love and enjoy.

When you think about them you will find they are not perfect, but are good.

Some are very good indeed.

We often use the word “perfect” to mean very good. Nothing wrong with that. Word meanings can be flexible.

But we need to see things for what they are as well. And we absolutely must see that needing something to be truly “perfect” might be holding us back.

Now apply that thinking to your business.

  • That article or product or ad you are working on needs to be good, not perfect.
  • The ad you are wanting to run needs to get clicks, not be a perfect mini sales letter.
  • The video you want to put on YouTube needs to be real, not be a Hollywood masterpiece.

And realize this — you can always change your work.

You can always make your work better as you go without waiting to take action until things are “perfect”.

This is a freeing thought that is best embraced every day.


But there is a huge difference between quality and perfection. There is a difference between doing your best now and comparing that to what you could do if you only waited three months or three years.

That difference is often the very difference between success and failure online in my experience.

Let me leave you with a few closing thoughts and quotes.

Zig Ziglar said “anything worth doing is worth doing badly until you learn how to do it well”.

This is so very true.

You won’t be as good at anything you do today as you will be tomorrow.

But if you wait until tomorrow just think of the joys and experiences you will miss.

Perfectionism is a funny beast. It likes to hide in plain site, hiding inside the projects we care most about but just can’t seem to move forward.

To smoke perfectionism out of it’s hiding places conider a review of these areas of your business life.

WRITING – Do you have articles, press releases, blog posts or ads in “draft” or in your mind to create?

If so, identify the top 3 and give each one hour of your focused time. In that hour finish them to the best of your ability.

Then use them as they are no matter how you feel about them.

MARKETING – Is there a method of marketing you want to use but you just can’t get confident enough to make it happen?

Remember this, only those who take action get rewarded.

Identify the top method you want to learn and set aside a few hours to really study that method. This needs to be focused time.

There is no method of marketing that can’t be understood by the average person working online if they give it three focused hours of effort.

Your goal here is not to become an expert. Your goal is to understand the marketing method well enough to take the next step and let the real learning process begin. For preferences, there’es this australianlatticeandtimber.com.au, a family-owned and operated Melbourne timber supplies business, which has been serving the local community in Dandenong, Melbourne since 1999. For almost two decades they know how to run their own business.

PRODUCT CREATION – I can’t tell you how many peeople I’ve spoken to who have a book “almost finished”. Or a membership site that’s “almost the way they really want it”.

I understand these because, Lord knows, I’ve been there.

Happily, this is an easy one.

Just identify the project, budget a fixed amount of time and make it happen.

Start with what you have and make a commitment to yourself to make it better as time goes by.

But by all means start! Get your work out there. It can’t do you any good in your computer on in your journal.

Then rest in the fact that you did your very best with the time you choose to invest and launch that product!

WEBSITE OR BLOG CREATION – This one is one of the biggies. So many people never launch their site because they can’t get the look or “feel” just the way they want it.

This is ironic because a review of the top blogs in the world will show that shiny design and fancy widgets are not what get the job done.

Content is what matters most online. Thus is has always been.

Just look at Seth Godin’s blog for one example. It’s very highly rated and (sorry Seth) not very pretty.

But oh my do you learn from what he shares.

Life is made up of a never-ending series of course corrections. On our way to where we want to go we start, correct, improve and do again continuously.

Don’t let the desire to create the perfect thing hold you back from the success you deserve today.

Set your goals, chart your course and do your very best today.

Remember, YOU control your projects, not the other way around.

Set your priorities, choose your actions, do your best, and (most importantly) choose to be finished when your work is good, not when it’s perfect.

This will lead to more accomplishment, more output and more peace of mind.

It’s worth the effort because accomplishing more with more peace of mind is a beautiful thing indeed.


41 thoughts on “What Price Perfection?”

  1. Gehan Wijesinghe

    Hi Charlie,
    You continue to amaze me with your repertoire of writing. Are not you going to run out of things to write on this niche? i fervently hope and pray, that you would not, as you are one of the most respected and sincere sources we have to get this inspiration free of charge. Trying to be a perfectionist has been my “forte” for all this while and it has kept me sleepless for so many decades as it really bothers me. However, now I am retired (thanks Lord) and am looking into this affiliate marketing stream seriously. I am following your advice. Thank you so much Charlie, and I pray that God showers you with more and more of th acumen you possess and bless you with good health, so the world would continue to benefit from a gentleman, so useful.

    1. Thank you Gehan. The more I learn, and the more experience I gain, the more there is to write about. I see you are doing a niche site. Be sure to let me know how that goes for you. Thank you for your kind words and for spending time with me here on my blog.


  2. Another article that hits me square in the face. Too many times to try and number have I been guilty of putting something off until the ‘perfect time’ or until I can do a ‘little more tweaking’. Thanks again for sharing the wisdom you’ve learned from life and experience. You’re a blessing!

    1. Thank you Phyllis. I always tell my kids that you can steer a car that is being pushed (no matter how slowly) but steering is impossible while sitting still. I appreciate your kind comments.


  3. Yay Charlie! Very well said. Instead of being a perfectionist (yikes!), focus on just being effective.

    That’s what the quality control revolution that made America #1 in manufacturing was all about. Only make the product as good as it NEEDS to be.

    Sometimes that’s close to being perfect, but it’s FAR more important to get your marketing out there – imperfections and all – where people can see it.

  4. Hi Charlie. Another brilliant article Charlie. I am a big procrastinator and full of self doubt about my own ability to start an online business. But I am now putting to good use some of the knowledge I have gained by being a member of DoE, FUSS and CommonSense Blogging by starting my own Blog. I dont think it is very pretty and I still have a lot of work to do before I start earning any money from it – but at least I have made a start and it is mostly down to your help and encouragement Charlie. So thank you again so much

    1. Thanks Ray! I think your blog looks good and you are off to a good start. Keep going and I believe things will work well in your favor.

  5. Charlie – your advice, as always, is not only spot on but scary – in a good way. I just “found” an ebook on my laptop that I wrote regarding this very same subject – its about 95% complete. Ironically its about fear – of failure and success – and how perfectionism can be a side effect of your fear. That’s the scary part – I’ve always known that great minds think alike ;>} The good part? This article makes me realuze and get over my own fear of failure (its not good enough) and perfectionism (this can be much better). Thanx again for your help and guidance along the way.
    Jack Caggz

    1. Hi Jack,

      I’m so glad you found that book! Now let’s get that bad boy on Kindle and turn it into some cash!

      I’m happy you found the article useful.


  6. Todd Thompson

    Hi Charlie, I’m promoting the DOE as an affiliate. In doing this I’ve written 2 articles (not yet submitted to any ezines yet), revised your solo ads to reflect my ‘own voice’, etc. In other words I feel poised to launch my promotional campaign. However, after reading your article I know what is holding me back the most at this point: I simply cannot bring myself to believe that I could actually make money working online! The very second I earn my first $90 will help, but right now I’m just an unbeliever and that seems to be my biggest rock block right now. Thanks for addressing these issues. Todd Thompson

    1. Todd,

      Thank you for being so transparent. I’ve been there and know the feeling. Believe me, if I can do this you can do this. The beauty of marketing online, especially with paid advertising and articles, is that who you are does not matter as much as what you share.

      They are going to buy the DOE from someone. It might as well be you!


  7. Charlie you really know people. This has been standing in my way for a long time. Thank you for pointing it out and making sense of it.

    1. I’m happy you found it helpful. It stood in my way for a long time too and still rears its ugly head from time to time. I wrote an article for a magazine today and they wanted 1500 words. I had 1504 and knew that was going to work but still had the inclination to read it and hit that magic 1500!

      Happily, I resisted the urge. 🙂


  8. Excellent post, Charlie!

    Neil Patel and Alice Seba each wrote something awhile back on this subject that I’ve written on my white board as a reminder.

    Neil says:

    “The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done!”

    Alice says:

    “Don’t limit yourself by worrying about what other people think!”


  9. Excellent article Charlie … I can soooo relate to what you’re saying. Thank you for reminding us of the insidious nature of perfectionsism. Your comment that perfectionsism “robs us of the reward of our labour while encouraging us to put in more time, more effort and check things just “one more time” … is so on the mark. This is an article I’ll refer to constantly until “Just Do It… Post It… Send It” becomes automatic!

  10. Charlie,
    Good article. I agree that seeking perfection can be counter productive and I’ve fallen into that trap a time or three. I try to avoid it by getting out the best work I can given the time and value involved. Then I adopt the Japanese concept of kaizen: continuous improvement. I cannot create a perfect product on day one, but if I continuously improve it I can deliver more and more quality.
    Dan Murphy

    1. Dan,

      I agree with and like that philosophy myself. We can always grow and continuous improvement is a wonderful way to live.


  11. I can totally relate to this post Charlie. I have a digital book that I published on Amazon and am always tweaking it to make it perfect. Now I’m proof reading it again to make sure it’s ok for the Create Space print version. I’ve probably been through it 20 times! Guess it’s time to push that publish button!

    1. Yes, and then continue checking after it is making you the money!

      You can always upload a new version! 🙂


  12. Good advice Charlie, I wish I could take it.
    My hard drive is littered with unfinished projects – domains I’ve bought and never used, articles I’ve written and never published, WSOs bought (some of them twice!) and never used, marketing ideas never followed through on.
    I’ve writen two books, both of them never published – as you say, I’m always tweaking them, but never actually finishing them.
    I was an accountant, and my old boss used to say “give me the monthly figures 80% right and early, rather than 100% right and late”
    With your permission Charlie, I shall put this article on the blog page of my money-makingopportunities.com site (with due credit to you of course)
    Cheers from Australia
    I’m always buying the latest WordPress theme, thinking that the theme is going to do all the work.

    1. I understand completely. I was just reviewing my domain names and found I have about 600 that are not being used. What a waste. But they were all bought for a reason, they sounded perfect at the time!

      When it comes to themes I understand that too. I’m very attracted to the new ones (and Lord knows I get emails about them every day) but have found that sticking with a basic one works very well indeed. And it saves so much time. No matter what they say switching themes takes time to clean up after the switch.

      Themes are like other tools, they make the job easier but will never do the real work.


  13. Marilyn Broomer

    Great stuff Charlie,

    Fear – not that I have it, because I want to succeed, I do, but in fact I have met very mean people on line and they constantly don’t want me to succeed by ensuring I cannot always get where I want to go, and I mean constantly playing with my browsers etc. I admit I just about have given up! I can’t seem to want to fight it any longer.
    On the other hand I ran a Service Contract Area and we wrote all types of contracts, my boss said he hired me because he knew I would do my very best to train some of employees and make them realize writing in this case was super important, it had to be specific and totally understandable, but when I started online I realized I could make some mistakes because I was human!

    1. I’m sorry that is happening to you Marilyn. I know you have been bothered by that for a long time. I do hope it improves.


  14. Excellent advice! I am both a procrastinator and a perfectionist (bad combination!). This article has more clout than most because it is written by someone considered to be a perfectionist, i.e. the best at what he does. People like me need to get this knowledge down deep within us and ACT rather than RE-ACT.
    Action = Freedom = Money!
    Thanks, Charlie……

    1. I agree about reacting. When you go to the doctor after taking a new medication you want to hear the word “respond” but never the word “react”. Thank you for your kind comment.

  15. I think everything you wrote is correct, but here is what get’s me. Every time I turn around somebody has come out with a new software or theme for WordPress to the point that it irritates and aggravates me to no end. It’s an everyday pounding to spend money on a new something or other for WordPress to the point that I wish there was another way to go and not use WordPress at all.
    Nobody really does a review as to what is good or absolutely needed
    for a WordPress site in these new products and that is very frustrating too. Anyway that is my rant for the day, probably perfectionism at work here too. Paul

    1. Not a rant. I get what you are saying. I am doing what you talk about inside Common Sense Blog Blueprint. I’m reviewing themes and plugins and actually giving some of them (the ones that pass the test) away to members. I’m sorry those are for members only. I will try to include some of that here on my blog.

      Remember this when it comes to WordPress — these are all just options. The marketing of them might make it seem like you are missing out if you don’t use them but you are not missing anything by not using them.

      Look at the top blogs online. They are basic and full of great content.

      Focus on the content, not the delivery of the content, and you will do well.

      The basics, executed very well, are what succeed online.

      Hope this helps.


      1. I will keep that in mind as it is quite depressing to me that this continually goes on. I will be looking forward to anything that you have to say about this, but I do agree that following the right order of things should work. Thank you for your advice. Paul

  16. Michael Zaenglein

    What a wake up call! I’m learning to use WordPess now and your
    Article is the “perfect” example of the content and not a small mistake, RE: H0w many times have you had a great idea but not taken action and then seen someone else doing YOUR idea later? Wow that burns.
    Oh yes, I do it too and I waste time trying too hard.
    Your awesome article sure woke me up with what was said, and not by being “perfect”! That small “mistake: HOw” was a trap, was it not? Thank You, Superior Article Content!

    1. Wow. Not a trap – an honest mistake. I think I’ll leave it there however to further teach myself that things don’t have to be perfect. 🙂

  17. I think I have gotten past my perfectionist tendencies but procrastination still plaques me at times. Great article. I really enjoy reading your emails and blog posts. Its really nice to be on the list of an honest and Godly marketer for a change.

    Thanks Charlie.

    1. Thanks Doug. I appreciate your kind words. I work hard to be honest and Godly. Glad that it shows.

  18. I am a perfectionist and a procrastinator! Thanks for the very inspirational article. I am bookmarking this one to go back and read to remind me to change my ways.

    1. Me too! So the bookmarking is procrastination and then reading every word is the perfectionism, right? 🙂

      Thanks for commenting. I’m happy you found it helpful.

  19. Patti Grunkemeier

    I loved this Charlie. A long time ago I realized this was what I was suffering from also. Partly this was due to a lack of self-worth (proving that I could do it right, best, etc). One way I used to break this was to purposely finish whatever I was working on in an less than perfect state (might even contain some minor errors!).

    I still struggle as I am a very detail person but I am much better than I was!

    Thanks for the liberating article!


    1. Thanks Patti. I love what Hemmingway did — he would leave a sentence unfinished in order to get himself writing the next morning. That’s one way to overcome perfectionism!

      I appreciate your comment.

  20. Good point Charlie,

    Don’t wait til your product is perfect but go ahead and improve
    along the way.

    Take action now…

    By the way, do you know a good tool to make a sqeezepage?

    The sky is the limit, Geral Overbeek.

    1. Hi Geral. Thank you for your comment. The two best tools I know for making squeeze pages are Optimize Press (if you want a hosted solution) and Landing Pages (if you want an online service as a solution).

      Here are the links (non affiliate links)

      Optimize Press
      Lead Pages

      Hope this helps.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.