One of the challenges a lot of entrepreneurs face is learning to draw the line where something is “good enough.”  I wrote recently on the subject of perfectionism. I thought it would be worthwhile to share a personal example of where I draw the line and how it can positively impact our team.

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At one of my companies, we publish a free monthly training video focused on domain investors and resellers. Although I’m very much involved in the process, I don’t handhold our team on the actual work.

The workflow typically looks like this:
  • The initial content is drafted by someone else
  • I convert the content into copy for use in the actual video along with the wording to be used for narration
  • Someone (either my business partner, Steve Jones, or me) will record the audio
  • The audio gets edited
  • The audio gets reviewed by me (or if I did it, Steve will review it)
  • The video then goes to production where the on-screen is developed to sync with the narration and music is added to the background
  • A review of the video is made before it is rendered and converted to the final version

A couple of weeks ago, I had a bad cold. I wasn’t in any condition to record audio so Steve did it. I also didn’t write out verbatim the full text for the audio. I did not review the edited audio before it went to production.  An edit was suggested by Steve. The video was rendered.  It was only at that point that I actually looked at the result and heard the audio.

It was very sub-standard compared to what we normally do. There was one segment that Steve had misunderstood the point of and the direction was wrong. The audio recording itself was poorly done and the background music was much too loud.

For the almost 10 minutes the video lasted, I felt like I was listening to Ben Stein talk about domains. The Ben Stein of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and not the funny Ben Stein.

It just was not good.

The problem is the video was done. We also had to move onto other projects. It would cost us lost time and money to redo the audio. This meant that all of the video would need to be redone so it would match up with the narration. It didn’t mean double the original workload, but it did mean a significant amount had to be redone.

Several years ago, I might have opted against starting over. But it took me less than a few minutes to decide that we had no choice. Individually, these videos are not getting a lot of views at the time of release but over time, the views are starting to add up. The shelf-life of the videos is infinite. It is also representative of who we are as a company. Maintaining a level of professionalism is crucial.

I spent some time going over the narration issues with Steve. He practiced some phrasing with me. Then I left him on his own to redo it.

He did a considerably better job the second time around. However, I picked up there was a problem with “pops” in the recording. Steve recorded this audio in a different tone than he normally uses but did not adjust his mic positioning.  Still, our guy was ready to start work on the redoing the video. My initial inclination was to let it go. Then a funny thing happened – our video guy asked if I’d heard the audio and approved it. He had picked up on the same issue.

Sound editing couldn’t fully remove it. The only option was to re-record it a third time.

The end result was a considerably improved video. One that I feel is in line with the level of professionalism we want to exhibit.

Is it perfect? No. But it is as perfect as our team was able to do with what at that point in time in terms of skills and experience. I feel it is excellent.

Excellence is Motivating, Perfection is Demoralizing

Over time, I’ve learned to strive for excellence and not perfection. Going for perfection is rarely possible and if you don’t attain it – if every member of your team doesn’t feel that the result (be it a video, web site, book, whatever is being made/done) is the best that can be done – it can be downright demoralizing. By contrast, if you bring yourself to the level of shooting for excellence… saying….. okay this is where we are now and with what skills and experience we have now, this is the absolute best we can do…. this is not just exciting but it’s also motivating.

If you can get yourself to this point – this is where exciting things can start to happen with your business. Because you know what happens? Every time you have to do a similar thing again, the results will only get better as long as you hold yourself to that same standard.

P.S. In case you are curious, this is the video I mentioned above.

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