Let Go Of Perfectionism: Balancing A Job and A Side Business, Part 2

October 28, 2010 on 9:54 am | In career coaching | No Comments

Last week, I talked about managing your time and energy when balancing a job and a side business. This week, I cover another frequent question (and pitfall) I hear: the struggle with perfectionism and an inability to move forward.

Darlene: I have done months of background work on writing and setting up my own blog. What I am stuck on is finding a “provider” that I can work with that provides the templates that I like and who does all the behind the scenes work. There is literally soooooo much information out there that I am getting confused and not moving ahead. Suggestions?

Darlene’s question seems specific in its details but it is universal. It is less about what specific technology solution she needs and more about how she can move forward.

When you are starting a business, it will seem like there is an endless amount to do. You will also hear a lot of advice. In fact, you can spend all of your time just reading business how-to literature. But at the end of the day, you know your business is moving forward when you have customers.

In Darlene’s case, the real question is: Do you need the blog to get customers? She might be better served focusing on something else, and therefore tabling this technology question for later. If she is determined to blog, then the question is: What blog is good enough?

For the early part of your business, it’s more important to focus on what directly generates business, and then getting something out there that’s good enough to test that. Stop waiting for perfection. You will always have to tweak and refine, so why not let the real market give you feedback rather than guessing on your own.

With a side business, you have even more limited time because of your day job, so you have to be choosy and quick. Focus on revenues and customers. Try different things and cherish your mistakes because they can point you to better directions.

The benefit of good-enough choices also applies to your day job.  If your day job is the means to cash flow for your business, then the advantage of being able to stop at good enough is very clear:  you save your energy for your side business, but you still do enough on the job to maintain it. If your day job is more than just cash (i.e., you like it and want to have a career here) then going above and beyond in terms of work performance is recommended.

Don’t wait for the perfect strategy for what to do next: the perfect idea for your exact long-term role, the perfect time to network, the perfect moment to ask for a raise.  There is no perfection, and the benefit of movement almost always outweighs the benefit of waiting for the better time.

When you have a job and a side business, you are incredibly short on time. You don’t want to get bogged down in endless detail before asking yourself if whatever is holding your attention hostage is actually worth your precious time. Even if it is, you don’t want to overwork your activities and move too slowly forward in the process. As noted choreographer Martha Graham says, “Nothing is more revealing than movement.”

This post also appeared at my new Work In Progress blog for Forbes.com:

http://blogs.forbes.com/work-in-progress/2010/10/19/let-go-of-perfectionism-balancing-a-job-and-a-side-business-part-2/

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