Why done is better than perfect


We’ve all heard a bunch of mantras treated as if they were mottos to live by. The one I love though is, ‘Done is better than perfect’. The first time I heard it I thought it was a load of piffle. How can ‘done’ be better than perfect? Perfect is as good as it gets, right?

Fast forward a couple of years, and I now have a far better understanding of the phrase – mainly because I have been neck deep in my own startup journey.

Almost a year in and I now totally agree that done is better than perfect. But, why? We kicked off www.lovethesales.com less than a year ago with a team of four who all had full-time jobs. Time was sparse, and money even more so. We knew our idea was great, but that we had to get up to speed quickly. So, to manage our time better we adopted an agile, task-based way of working (and managed it on possibly the best free tool for any small team start up – check it out: https://asana.com). The four of us would meet up in a coffee shop somewhere every Wednesday and decide what the next seven days must deliver.

At first, we were super keen, so whole swathes of work were planned. But, of course, we didn’t deliver everything. We very quickly realised that larger goals needed lots of interactions to deliver and that breaking them down, and then breaking those broken down bits further, would make it an easier way to work. Rather than a task such as ‘Build user registration’, we would have a multitude of tasks that would lead to the final goal of users being able to register. This approach meant we used our time much more effectively and so on we went, all very happy with what we were doing.

A couple of months on, however, and we had built a bunch of stuff that needed more time to monitor, content manage, test and so on. We needed more time in the day. Although we were breaking down those smaller chunks and achieving loads, we had to make more savings on time. It was then that we realised we were always working towards the ultimate version of what we felt was the best product. Cue light bulb moment… Instead of crafting and perfecting the ultimate user registration, why not build something that works, get it live and then iterate on it? That would work, we all agreed. It would save time and mean that any improvements we made were made for good reason. So that’s what we did.

From then on, we built a functioning model of whatever product was required that week, put it live and then tested and monitored. We gather the evidence and improve based on what it was telling us. And this is the real meaning of ‘done is better than perfect’. The pursuit of perfection is still very real when working with this mantra; it’s just that you get to it faster and in a more organised way. You get better use of your time. You can spin more plates while achieving great things.