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I admit it: I’m a perfectionist. Few things please me as much as perfectly aligned corners or level pictures on the wall. (Or rather, few things annoy me more than crooked corners or wall pictures.) However, perfection is rarely totally achievable, and comes at a significant cost: the closer we get to “perfect,” the more time (and money) it takes to get everything just right. 

When it comes to entrepreneurship, many of us have to accept the 80/20 rule: we can complete 80% of a project in 20% of the allotted time, and then it’ll take the remaining 80% of the time to finish that last 20%. When our TODO lists are as long as they are, stopping at 80% is often good enough and it’s time to move on to our next project.

It’s really, really hard to let projects go at 80% if you’re a perfectionist like me. I have had entire days where I have been paralyzed with indecision, wondering if I can let that remaining 20% go and start something else, or if I should just finish the dang thing and feel accomplished. Eventually I realize that the indecision is actually worse, and no matter what I decide to do will be better than nothing. (I usually just end up spending another small chunk of time on the first project and then move on to the next one.)

Unfortunately, a downside of the 80/20 rule is that things don’t always work out the way I’d like them to. Maybe it means that we have to sacrifice consistent zipper pulls, or that we have to stick with buttons we already have instead of swapping them out for something else. It doesn’t feel great to make these compromises, but having a product that we can put to market on time does.

Opting for less than perfection has other downsides, of course: sometimes the customer notices and comments on it. It’s easy to take those comments personally - not because the customer hurt our feelings, but because we agree that the situation is suboptimal. But explaining why the product isn’t perfect, especially to customers who have saved their money to pay for it, is hard. 

So I’ll say it here: we know our products aren’t perfect - but they’re still pretty darn great. We regularly have to make decisions and compromises in order for the product to exist in the first place, and we can’t win 100% of the time with 100% of our community. We are nevertheless committed to making decisions that are aligned with our values, and that starts - first and foremost - with creating great products that a lot of people really and truly love.

Are you a perfectionist, too? How do you move forward when things aren't exactly the way you want them to be?