The Accomplished Solopreneur

Issue 23.04

Saturday, January 28, 2023

What’s the least you can get away with?

I like to think I’m a perfectionist. (But as my wife will quickly remind me, I’m only a perfectionist with a small number of things.)

When I develop a new product, I agonize over the smallest things. I make sure that everything is perfect so my students never see a broken link, everything is formatted perfectly, there’s lots of value, and so on.

I’m sure most people don’t notice these finer details, but they matter to me, so I do it.

This is one reason I’m slow

All of those details matter to me, so it takes me longer than it should to get something out the door. In my pursuit of perfection, I spend a lot of time doing things I could have done a lot faster.

The irony is that most people don’t notice those small details.

But I believe, quite strongly, that all those details matter. So even if most people don’t notice it, I know it’s there and I believe it makes a difference.

The (not so obvious) problem with perfection

Perfection has its pros and cons.

On the pro side, you tend to do some things really well. That makes you feel good, and the quality of what you deliver is great.

The (not so obvious) problem with perfection is that we can spend way too much time on things that don’t matter that much.

One of the ways in which I try to “up my game” is to look at what other, successful entrepreneurs have done. I subscribe to their courses, read their blogs, and follow their marketing on platforms like LinkedIn.

And I’m always surprised at how “basic” some of their offerings are. For example:

  • Videos don’t have the greatest sound
  • Video backgrounds are OK (but not the green screen I believe I need to use)
  • Tools, like spreadsheets, are often badly formatted (at least to my sensibilities)
  • Keeping track of course progress is sometimes not even available.

And yet, they’re successful. There are two reasons for this:

Entrepreneurs that are successful do two things well:
1. Their offerings are high value
2. They market really well

So that leads me to the question we should all be asking ourselves: if these entrepreneurs can be successful without all the bells and whistles we believe are required, what’s the least we can get away with?

What’s the least you can get away with?

When I say “the least I can get away with” I don’t mean sloppy or below par. Remember, there are two things you need to be successful:

  • Your offerings have to be high value
  • You have to market them really well

Let’s take a look at what this means.

Your offerings have to be high value

High value means that your clients / customers / subscribers get real value from your offerings. When they buy something from you, they learn a skill they can use, or get insights they can apply to their lives and/or businesses.

In other words:

Your offerings deliver on the promise you make in your marketing and sales material.

If you can deliver on that promise, you can get away with a lot less. For example:

  • Videos don’t have to have studio-quality sound
  • You don’t need studio-quality lighting
  • You don’t need the prettiest website in the world

My friend Anthony is one of the most comfortable people in front of a camera I’ve ever seen. If you watch this video, you will see that he’s relaxed and talks about the topic with ease. The sound is good, lighting is good and the video is engaging.

And yet, his recording studio is very basic. He uses a Blue Yeti USB microphone (a highly rated “amateur” microphone) and the video is recorded using his MacBook’s built-in camera. Lighting is from the window he faces. That’s it.

Even with this very basic setup, that video has been watched 390,000 times.

The key: the topic is relevant, he delivers on the promise (how to show your profile picture in a Zoom call), and he’s marketed it really well.

You have to market really well

Of course, for anything to be successful, you have to market it so the world hears about it and comes to look at what you have to offer.

This article is not about marketing, but here are the basic principles:

  • Be relevant (to what your target market needs)
  • Provide value (for example, educate and inform, don’t sell)
  • Show up often and show up consistently

The more important bit is this:

Get your product done and ready for prime time, even if it’s not perfect, so you can spend all your time marketing it.

I love creating (including writing this newsletter), so my natural inclination is to want to create and not market. The perfectionist in me wants to get better audio, video, lighting, prettier websites, and so on - but those are less important than getting it out there.

The key take-away

You can be successful with a product or service even if it isn’t polished and perfect. Most importantly, it has to deliver on the promise.

So get your products or services packaged and ready for use so you can spend your time marketing. That’s where the real success lies.

Hope that helps.