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The Deadly Phrase for an Entrepreneur – “In Order To”

We were in a meeting yesterday for one of our companies, interimCEOinterimCFO, discussing various steps in a new initiative, when I had the feeling of falling into a trap. Every so often I fall into the same trap when we are working on plans and budgets and assigning projects.  The trap is that I start thinking – and waiting – for the next great thing. What we have is good, but it will be so much better when we do just one more site redesign. And the search function on the site is good, but it will be great when we get it notched up just a bit more, so we should wait on a full rollout ‘til its even better. And we better not tell anyone yet because its not, well, perfect.

See what I mean? This is an extension of what Wayne Dyer has been writing about for years. “When I get out of high school everything will be great.” “When I get out of college life really starts.” “When I get married things will be better.” And so on.

We are goal setting and goal achieving machines by nature. All well and good. But when we put goals before goals before goals, well it can get endless and counterproductive.  The evolution of software is actually a successful example of iterations of imperfect but better efforts finally leading to good and then great products.

As entrepreneurs it’s easy to want to do a hundred and one things before we think we are ready to put our product or service out into the world. It’s easy to enter the danger zone of saying “in order to”.

-IN ORDER TO acquire a hundred more customers, we need a flashier website
-IN ORDER TO start making sales calls we need to add more product offerings
-IN ORDER TO _______ (fill in the blank)

Howard A. Tullman, founder of  Certified Collateral Corporation and about a dozen other companies said it right in How They Did It: “A lot of people wait for a perfect solution to come along and never get their businesses going. The idea of just getting going and assuming that the right tools, the right systems, and the right people will come along is crucial to the entrepreneurial process.”

Dan Sullivan, founder of The Strategic Coach program, has what he calls “The 80% Approach,” which means to work to solve 80% of a problem on the first go-round. Then take another 80% out of the problem the next time (this means working on the remaining unsolved 20%) so that the second generation solution will be at 96%. And so on.



About Robert Jordan

Robert Jordan has been launching and growing companies and helping other entrepreneurs do the same for the past 20 years. He has authored book and audio series including How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America (RedFlash Press), featuring 45 leading company founders who've created $63 billion in value from scratch, and How They Did It Nightingale-Conant audio program . His startup, Online Access, the first Internet-coverage magazine, landed on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies. His newest endeavors are RedFlash, a strategy execution team, and The Association of Interim Executives, which champions interim management as its own global specialty. You can also find Robert on Google+ and Twitter. View all posts by Robert Jordan

1 Comment to The Deadly Phrase for an Entrepreneur – “In Order To”

  1. Great points. Time is valuable and improvements are important, but it’s best to prioritize the value added by the next time increment invested. You might only need to get 80% of some initiatives “right”, but others might need to be 100% right. Of course the business owner needs to perform their own personal qualitative analysis to decide what is the correct level of “right” and where to invest time.

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