Wellbeing / Business psychology

Don’t let perfectionism ruin your business

While large companies are spending major marketing dollars on trying to look more human, many soloists are falling into the perfectionism trap of trying to match the machine-like appearance of the big guns in order to compete with them.


As soloists, we battle face-to-face with our irrational thoughts and feelings because we are often alone. Our areas of vulnerability seem magnified because we don’t have an office buzz and other people’s obvious limitations to distract us from what we think we lack.

It’s natural for us to want to be even-tempered, efficient and…well, perfect. But so often that goal of perfectionism feels a world away. Accepting your imperfections is no mean feat, but if you don’t give it a go they are likely to morph into the ultimate spanner in your business.

Here are six steps that could help get that perfectionism monkey off your back:

  1. Firstly, remind yourself that you have the courage of a lion – not the cute Walt Disney version, the raw David Attenborough kind. Running your own business takes chutzpah, so give yourself that credit.
  2. Write down on a piece of paper those negatives about yourself that are bugging you. Looking down at your imperfections on a piece of paper can allow for more distance and objectivity. It can also bring on the urge to turn the page into a paper plane or a fun pirate’s hat.
  3. Writer James Joyce said “mistakes are the portals of discovery” so, when looking at your imperfection list (prior to plane/hat conversion), think about what could be learned from them.
  4. Have a round table chat about imperfection with other soloists you trust. Sharing the imperfection confession can be a comfort. Important note: laughing at your mistakes can lengthen your life, laughing at others can shorten it.
  5. List the things you have done well this week. You’ll be surprised at how great you are just being you, despite the fact you are the only person on the planet who doesn’t know how to blog or you have the networking panache of Freddie Kruger.
  6. If you’ve made a mistake with a client, own up face-to-face or on the phone so you can discuss it. Finding solutions together can sometimes be powerful, but have one up your sleeve just in case. Along with a cute photo of when you were four.

As soloists, we generally attract clients because of who we are as individuals. So take some time out to celebrate who you are, warts and all.

"Accepting your imperfections is no mean feat, but if you don’t give it a go they are likely to morph into the ultimate spanner in your business."

And remember: even Einstein professed uncertainty when he said, “Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

Want more articles like this? Check out the business psychology section.

Megan Hills

is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys helping others be engaging and understood. Through her marketing, publicity and graphic design nous, she can maximise the power of what you want to communicate to the people you want to reach.


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