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Why You’re Actually Better Off Not Trying to Perfect New Ideas

Waiting for perfection can come at the cost of missed opportunities.

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fizkes — stock.adobe.com

Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.

No matter which field you work in, chances are that at least at one point, you had an idea but didn’t want to put it out there until you felt like you’d perfected it.

Working in a creative industry, I’ve seen this happen a lot with writers and composers. They’re hesitant to put their work out there because it’s incomplete or not to the standard they’ve mentally built up. However, waiting for perfection can come at the cost of missed opportunities. Of course, there’s a fine line. You don’t want to put something half-baked out there. It’s up to you to determine where that fine line between “half-baked” and “perfection” is, as it depends on various factors, mainly the type of idea you have. 

Once you determine where that fine line is, you can begin putting your idea out there. Here are three benefits of not waiting for perfection.

1. You’ll Get The Advantage Of Being First 

Have you ever had a great idea, only to find out someone else already had the same thing in mind and put it in front of the world first? 

One famous example of this is the controversy around who is credited with inventing the telephone. According to the Library of Congress, “some researchers suggest that Elisha Gray, a professor at Oberlin College, applied for a caveat of the telephone on the same day Bell applied for his patent of the telephone—these gentlemen didn’t actually visit the Patent Office, their lawyers did on their behalf.” Now, some researchers dispute this explanation and think “there was malfeasance by certain individuals at the Patent Office, and possibly Bell himself.” But, this example still proves an important point. Getting your idea out there first, whether by way of patent or not, can help you ensure that you get credit for that idea. 

Credit aside, you’ll also get a first-mover, or first-to-market, advantage. By being the first to launch a new product or service, you’ll gain a competitive edge. As a result, you’ll have a greater chance of gaining a large market share. 

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2. You’ll Generate Interest Earlier

When you put your idea out there before achieving perfection, you’ll also be able to generate interest in it earlier.

With my own company, BroadwayHD, my team and I decided to launch with approximately 120 shows. While we launched with more shows than we originally thought we’d have, we technically could have held off launching until we had even more content. However, it was more important for us to start generating interest with what we already had rather than holding out for more shows. 

By generating interest in your idea earlier, you also get a headstart on building brand recognition and customer loyalty. Think about it this way: if someone is an early adopter of your product, they’ll be less inclined to switch to a competitor that enters the market down the line. They’ll be more likely to think of your brand as the “gold standard” in that category.

3. You’ll Be Able to Get Early Feedback 

By generating interest and building brand recognition and customer loyalty earlier, you put yourself in a position to get early feedback on your idea. You can learn a lot from the marketplace, even if you have a proven and mature product or idea; imagine how helpful the feedback would be for an unproven, new product or idea! 

In the Broadway world, it takes an average of seven years to develop a musical. Even by the time a play makes it to the Broadway stage, things still change based on feedback from directors, producers, actors, set, costume, lighting, sound design and audiences. That feedback starts early and continues throughout a play’s time on Broadway, driving its evolution. 

Similarly, with early feedback, you can iterate on your idea, improving it to fit the needs and wants of your target customers better, which will maximize your chances of long-term success. You might discover, for instance, that your customers aren’t responding well to a particular feature, and as a result, you can address their concerns and update that feature. 

The benefits of not waiting for perfection — being first, generating interest earlier and getting early feedback — apply even if your idea isn’t a creative pursuit like a play, isn’t an invention or isn’t kicking off a new business. For example, maybe you’re a marketer, and you have an idea for a new marketing campaign for your employer. Or, maybe you’re a member of your child’s parent-teacher association, and you come up with a fun fundraising activity. In any case, don’t wait for perfection! Once you think you have enough details figured out, put your idea out there — and see what happens. 

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