Perfection is a Myth and Other Learnings from Tether
It’s been a while! For the past year and some change, I’ve been busy creating Tether, a community and agency for creative image-makers like photographers, stylists, producers, and more. It’s been a fun ride and I’ve learned a lot about myself, building a brand, and the ins and outs of entrepreneurship.
As much as I’d like to have it all figured out, I don’t—which is very uncomfortable for me—but I’d like to share what I have learned for the sake of documentation and in the hopes that it helps someone else. The biggest lessons so far:
1. Planning the work is not doing the work
I am a true planner at heart. Give me a calendar, kanban board, spreadsheet, or timeline and I’m in heaven. (Srsly, have you seen Airtable? Obsessed.)
But while making lists and setting dates and determining goals is useful, nothing is as useful as actually doing the work. If that means jumping in without a prioritized to-do list and carefully planned blocks of time, do it. If that means you start with the easiest thing instead of “eating the frog” first, do that. If that means doing a fun low-priority Instagram post before getting to a scary high-priority phone call to boost your productivity self-esteem, do that.
The point is to DO. Doing makes the difference.
2. Perfection is a myth
Look, I deal with the “you have to be twice as as good” mentality (it’s true.) I read and re-reread emails and texts before sending. I spend too much time scooching a logo over millimeter by millimeter to ensure it’s perfectly aligned. I research pretty much everything until I’m blue in the face to make sure I’m doing things “the right way.” All of the above is in pursuit of perfection.
But perfection is a myth. Most everything can be improved upon, and the best products are continuously being updated and enhanced. Remember how long Gmail was in beta?
The point is not to create something perfect, the point is to get something out there. You can “perfect” it later, once you have actual data about what’s working and what’s not. My favorite rule:
Ship when it hits B-.
Get your offering to the point where you like it enough to give it a slightly-above-average grade, and go live. The point is to get it out there!
3. The team makes the dream
I’m still working on this, but one thing that’s made itself clear to my overly-independent self is that you can’t do everything.
You need people around you to help, to counter your ideas and offer up their own. I’m not saying you’re not smart, but like Sway, you ain’t got the answers—at least not all of them. And that’s okay.
The team is heavily weighted in startup culture for a reason, and for new ventures, team members who are like Swiss army knives—people who can do a bit of everything and wear many hats—are invaluable.
Finding the right combination of people takes time and energy, but can make all the difference to your stress level and the quality of your product. Start pulling other people into the fold sooner rather than later; it’ll make a big difference.
Want to hear more?
I shared this advice and more on a recent episode of the Creative City podcast featuring the 2018 Haile Fellows. As a trio of type-A women, it got real when we started talking about the ins and outs of making ideas happen. Listen here: