Answer: DON’T run a well oiled machine in the Growth Stage!
The machine of growth is not seeking perfection, but instead being comfortable with imperfection. As you grow you will want your baby to be the vision of loveliness you thought it would be when you birthed the IDEA in your dorm room years ago. Now, it is a reality and you will realize that that baby screams and poops all the time and it is not an Ann Getty image of a baby in a flower basket. It’s a hot mess.
The secret is to be OK with the mess. I have found that when I get caught up on focusing on minor imperfections, I get down on myself and then it carries over to my team and all aspects of my business, including how fast we grow. This hurts our progress because we become consumed by the 30% that is not perfect and forget about the 70% that is working great. The Focus shifts to focusing on the bad so the good things suffer because we are worrying about getting to the 100% perfection mark, the A+.
I never got an A+ in school, I got a lot of C’s and I still have an MBA. I still learned and got the stamp on my resumé. Today, I am more of the stereotype of success than most of my graduating class. Even then, being OK with the mess translated to greater success and more opportunities to grow. I just had a better definition of success than the Education Industrial Complex tried to create for me. Corporate Finance stumped me and I never figured out how to calculate an IRR(Finance Jargon) by hand, but I knew I didn’t have to. That is what is Excel is for. I did know I needed to network with other students, go hear great entrepreneurs speak at on campus events, work on my real estate business at night (all things I enjoyed and was good at) and the 30% that I lost on a grade I made up for it in what mattered.
You will never make everything perfect but here are 3 hacks to be able to focus the majority of your time on making the good better while still addressing the problems.
1) Dedicate EXTRA/FINITE amount of Time to the Problem: I am not an early riser, but I get up at 5:30am 2-3 times per week and head into the RE360 World Headquarters. I use at least half of this extra productivity time, (before 9am) to focus on the 30% of things that are bad or, being an optimist, not ideal. During this time, no one bothers me and I can focus on tough decisions, analysis, and implementing plans of action to chip away at these issues. Then the rest of the day can be focused on grinding and making money on the sunnier side of entrepreneurship like growth, making money, making a difference…
2) The LIST: List your problems on a white board, on Evernote, or whatever you use so they are in front of you. Then when you fix them, scratch them off, don’t erase them. Yes the list will keep growing or stay the same length as more imperfections are created, but you will be able to visualize your progress. Entrepreneur’s are always looking forward but we forget to stop and smell the roses and realize we are fixing these problems. The list serves as a tracking tool and a motivational tool all in one, BUT the list will keep growing because we are just making more problems by growing our company and THAT IS A GOOD THING.
Recognizing the things I did fix gives me the sense of accomplishment to not get overwhelmed by the things I don’t yet know how to fix. I see this and say, “I did it in the Past and I will do it again in the future.”
3) Screw it: Analyze if it even makes sense to repair the imperfection. Do a basic Cost/Benefit analysis and if the cost is greater than the benefit then move it to the bottom of the list or if it is totally inconsequential then erase it. For example: I would like all my company trucks to be painted the same color and have logos on them because it would be a nice image to project. It will COST a bunch of money. The BENEFIT is I will feel pride in seeing my fancy trucks driving around with my logo on it. That will translate into little to no economic value to anyone. Therefore, my trucks will remain all different colors, a little bit rusty and dirty and they will be that way until I have time to “play” business, but right now I will focus on the nasty, dirty, ugly appearance of the real business of growth.
So, keep moving forward and do not get caught up on these minor imperfections that are not that important.