Creatives are famous for being “perfectionists.” They are never satisfied with the end result. Always trying to improve on a product, they often overlook the effects this has on the business. Deadlines often come and go and products remain on hold because of small detailing not being “just so.” But when you run a business and your business is product-based, you cannot afford to chase perfection. Commercial thinking must be exercised, deadlines respected and the business needs put first.
New entrepreneurs often focus on wanting to create the “perfect” product or service for their customers. Most seasoned businessmen will quickly tell you if you asked, that this focus on perfection is rather misplaced.
While you may compare yourself to your competitors who have been in business for a number of years, and feel that there are few more improvements to be made to an already good product; this strive for perfection could hold you back and prove to be a big mistake for a number of reasons.
Take Karolina Barnes, Editor of indie magazine Estila, for example. Like many entrepreneurs, she had to maintain an open mind and rise to the challenges of launching a new item that she would have loved investing another six months on developing.
“As long as you research your idea for some time and ensure that it’s worth pursuing then launching it regardless of whether it’s perfect or not is still better than working on perfecting it and then realizing that the response/reaction of the market is not what you expected. I have my own standards in terms of everything I put out there and which I use as a guide. For example, I never compromise on quality. I would have made my life much easier if I started printing in China or Eastern Europe like other indie magazines do, but I chose to stick to my values. Hence, my business model had to change as a result. Most of my competitors rely on traditional marketing strategies, while I had to diversify from day one.”
Striving for perfection costs a lot to develop.
As most entrepreneurs have a limited amount of developmental funds, it’s important to focus on doing enough to get the product to market as opposed to perfecting it. Once you start selling, your paying customers will provide funds, by way of purchase, to fund product enhancement.
Secondly, in this age of crowdfunding your potential customers will be able to support your future product development costs by showing interest in your products and investing in you. Some fundamental personal standards should be maintained. Before you launch and providing you adhere to these standards, getting your idea out there and seeing how it is received by your customers is imperative.
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Joanna Dai of Daiwear recently launched her brand. While she was developing her launch collection she often thought about whether it is better to launch with what you have and improve as you get feedback from customers or to wait for perfection.
“I found the book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries extremely helpful in forming my view around this question. The concept is to launch your minimum viable product (MVP) onto the market that tests your hypothesis, take the consumer feedback, put it back into the product development and iterate this feedback loop. I completely agree. Rather than investing large sums of money to perfecting the designer’s or entrepreneur’s ideal (and untested) vision, where it’s possible that no one shows up to the launch, it’s better to get real feedback as soon as possible and iterate this into an evolved product that consumers do find valuable.”
Once you begin the lengthy process of developing your idea, you may find that you may have to make many changes to the initial creation.
Pricing considerations should be at the forefront of your mind. If you overprice yourself out of your market, you will have limited sales. If you underprice, you risk alienating your ideal consumer.
While you may have an idea with respect to how much you would like to charge customers for your product, this may change once you find a manufacturing partner.
Lack of understanding of the cost of materials or design elements can make or break your product. Maintaining an open mind to the possibility of having to alter your final design in order to get closer or meet the needed cost price, is the reality any business faces daily.
If required changes are aesthetic and don’t interfere with the design concept, then changing the design should be no hardship.
If they do alter the design and the changes affect the final vision, then going back to the drawing board and reviewing the design alongside the research may be required.
Either way – the choice of materials and design will have a direct impact on the price of the final product. Knowing what falls within your price point before setting your heart on something more expensive is crucial.
Maintaining some flexibility is really important as you build your brand.
Always think of the bigger picture and avoid focusing on the minutiae.
Good is better than perfect!
Monisola Omotoso, Founder of Pamela_P, says, “Prior to launching, I had big ideas about wholesaling immediately as well as selling directly via an e-commerce site. But as my products are technically challenging and expensive to make, the idea of producing stock wasn’t cost effective for me at that time. I had spent quite a lot of money testing out samples with a factory, but the results were not brilliant. I then settled on the idea of selling on a bespoke basis with items made to order within five weeks. While wholesaling in the future is still important, launching and getting feedback on the final product and brand was the right step forward.”
Joanna Dai had a similar experience. She had to change her design development plans slightly before launching.
“I didn’t have to pivot completely, but from the start, I knew I couldn’t afford a larger range of pieces for the first collection. I planned very carefully with a tightly curated number of pieces for my first capsule collection. I ended up having seven patterns in total which consisted of four dresses, a blazer, a blouse, and a pair of trousers. One dress was even made into two styles – one colour-blocked and one in a solid colour with piping.”
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Karolina Barnes says that “most of Estila’s issues are not perfect in my eyes. However, the imperfections I see, most people don’t see. They see the good stuff while I see the bad stuff.”
It’s so easy to talk yourself out of launching.
This thing needs improving, that thing’s not perfect and before you know it, you never launch.
People start with an idea – some don’t do much research, others do a lot.
But until you start, you have no idea what the reality is.
It is not unusual along the way of your research to find out that interest for your idea is not as strong as you thought; that there is a resistance because you may be way ahead of your time and too early to market.
Conversely, there could be no interest as you are too late to market or you can’t reach the price you wanted.
There are so many things that can happen along the journey from idea to a finished product that one cannot anticipate.
Sometimes it’s best to bite the bullet and just do it.
Consider your products as your marketing materials. They can be improved through conversations with and feedback from your fans, the customers.
If you were to give them perfection, in the beginning, how could you possibly maintain your dynamic drive and entrepreneurial spirit?
Remember, there is always room for improvement and that’s surely part of the fun!