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Done is Better Than Perfect!

by J. Money on Thursday, March 22, 2012

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(Guest Post by Evan from My Journey to Millions)

There seems to be a recent trend as so-called “cool companies” put in a founder’s statement every time they go public. For example, when Google went public in 2004, they included the statement, “Don’t be evil.” While good, it is not very inspiring. However, Facebook’s recent investor statement literally changed my outlook on starting my own additional streams of income.

In it, founder Mark Zuckerberg said:

“Done is better than Perfect”

He was talking about rolling out new ideas without anything more than the initial rounds of testing. If it is good enough for Facebook, it is good enough for me!

Better to Get Moving on Streams of Income

Whether we are talking about investment strategies or business idea, I often suffer from paralysis by analysis. When I heard that statement from Zuckerberg, however,  it completely changed my view on things. According to Wikipedia, Analysis Paralysis is when one partakes in:

“Over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation, so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or “perfect” solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution”

While I am not “cured” of this,  nor do I believe I ever want to lose that analytical part of myself, I do think reading Facebook’s statement inspired me to take charge of certain ideas – including the example below.

Starting Another Stream of Income

When The Wife was pregnant with our boy, I thought it would be fun to run a pregnancy pool – where everyone guesses when the baby will be born. When I searched the competitors out there, I found that either they weren’t free, or they looked like they were built in 1997. I was shocked, so I quickly used freelancers to put something together. After our baby was born in December of 2010, I more or less let the site go dormant (it made some money but nothing too crazy).

Fast forward to January, 2011. A very good buddy of mine cornered me one day, and said he wanted in on some of my online ventures. After explaining that I wasn’t comfortable partnering with him on my personal finance blog (since the domain was hush hush, and he would be worthless when it came to it anyways), the idea to update the Free Baby Pool came to mind. He happened to have some of the best programmers around working for him, so he said he was down!  He’d bring on the programmer, and I would bring my experience in inexpensive online promotion. We hired one of his employees as a freelancer and got right to work.

After about 3 weeks, we had a functioning site and that is when the debate began. My partner wanted to wait until the site was perfect, with all the bells and whistles, but after reading what The Zuck had just said, I emailed him right back and said (not “asked”) – “We are going live!”

My Goal is to Inspire

I think budgets are as sexy as the Tuesday Noon J.V. squad at the local strip club. Some of J’s other projects, however, like Love Drop, are amazing! Could J$ have waited to perfect the project? Of course. He could have filed 501(c)(3) papers to make it a recognized non-profit or even lined up sponsors before launching. He could have also waited to build better protection for the site against freaking dirtbags that would eventually try to take down such a fantastic project. He could have done all of that, but he didn’t(J$: Actually, we kinda did ;)  We spent the first 8 months thinking and wondering and then even more thinking, until one day we just said “F it… Let’s just put it out there and see if people LIKE it!” – and it was on the up and up from that point forward… which still backs up all your points here in that we shouldn’t have waited so long!)

And look at all the people Love Drop helped last year: Jill, Ethan, Alex, Katie, the Kahlen family, the Stalnackers, the Aubins, Felicity & family, Lucy, Melanie, the Triplets, Marci, and Diomi & Nalee.

While I don’t consider myself a very inspirational guy, I hope that this post today inspires just one person to launch their project this week.

Why is the Topic of Multiple Income Streams So Important to Me?

For me, multiple streams of income can be used to better your financial situation one month at a time. I am not crazy enough to think that Pregnancy Pool is anything more than a fun way for people to set up a free baby pool, but it is possible to make a couple hundred bucks off it every month (eventually, lol). I like to call it the Circle of Financial Growth – when one small income stream builds another, and another, and another! I will use this income stream to build another from dividends, then eventually pay down all debt which will also free up even more cash flow – thus allowing all of the circles to grow!

What About Those Who Are Paying off Debt? Or Just Starting their Personal Finance Journey?

What if building streams of income isn’t your “thing” just yet? It doesn’t matter – the message applies to any level of personal finance. For example:

  • I am often asked how a person should pay off his or her debt (highest interest rate vs. lowest balance)? I always respond the same way: What motivates you? The type of repayment system you plan on implementing DOES NOT have to be perfect – you just have to get started!
  • What about setting up your first budget? Your budget doesn’t have to be perfect either, it just matters that you have a clue as to where your money is going.
  • What about your first investments? Isn’t it better to at least get yourself in the game, than just reading book after book after book with no action?

There is no such thing as the perfect investment or debt repayment system. How can I be so sure? Because if there were, there wouldn’t be so many to choose from!

No more excuses! What projects or plans have you been holding off on?

————–
Evan writes at My Journey to Millions, a blog about personal finance, estate planning, taxes, and of course his multiple streams of income.  You can also find  him on Twitter at @MTJM.

(Photo by stevendepolo)


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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Frugal Fries March 22, 2012 at 7:57 am

This is a really inspiring piece, especially for someone who has been terrified of making any financial decisions without pouring over the research and getting opinions from anyone and everyone I know.

Sometimes you just need to get started, because the benefit of beginning now will most likely outweigh most mistakes you make by jumping the gun (hopefully).

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2 Brian March 22, 2012 at 8:27 am

Well written post. Which is why I enjoy reading your blog (even if I never comment on it). Not sure what I will start this week since I just funded a 529 plan for my yet to be born child. But if I think of something I will definitely do it this week.

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3 Christopher @ This That and The MBA March 22, 2012 at 9:45 am

Great article Evan. It is similar to starting my blog. I drove over material for a year…planning..then forgot about it for a month and said you know what its now or never and launched it in january…it has been a fun learning experience since then….it definitely doesnt look like the perfection that I had in mind…but it is done…accomplished…now i dont have to look back and say what if….i am doing it and perfecting it as i go along…life is a big game of trial and error…if at first you dont succeed try and try again!

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4 GB @ In Budgets We Trust March 22, 2012 at 9:54 am

This is an inspirational post. Thanks! Your point sounds almost counter-intuitive, but it makes sense… how can you get results if you’re never satisfied enough to deliver even the small amount you have?

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5 Yardwork March 22, 2012 at 9:55 am

I actually already have a second stream setup as a freelance tech. The foundation and infrastructure is rock-solid (I even have a dedicated line for the “business” that I can pick up on my cell), and the money has been tricking in at the moment, but that’s only because I really haven’t been advertising or putting myself out there. To more directly answer your question of what I’ve been putting off: Its been an concerted effort to get out of my shell and more comfortable dealing with people in general.

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6 Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life March 22, 2012 at 10:05 am

One of the most inspiring things I took away from the 20-Something Bloggers Summit last year was that even big, successful bloggers started out with tiny, crappily designed sites. They didn’t wait until everything was perfect to start, they just started and improved on the fly. So it’s especially true that “done is better than perfect” when it’s something you can keep improving on over time.

Unfortunately I think Facebook may have taken this idea a little too far — they seem to make lots of changes that very few people like, for no clear reason. So done is not better than perfect if the things you’re doing are actually making things worse, in my opinion.

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7 J. Money March 22, 2012 at 10:29 am

@Frugal Fries – Yup! I call it the 80/20 rule :) I’d rather put in the effort and get 80% of it all right, rather than kill myself to try and get it up to 90-100% right. Most of the times you can do a decent job w/ not too much time put in too.
@Brian – Awesome! You just reminded me that I still need to set one up for our soon-to-be-born child too. I’m actually kinda excited about it, haha… even though it means more $$ needs to be allocated away :)
@Christopher @ This That and The MBA – SEE THAT!! I did the same with Giveaways Are Sexy and a handful of other older things, and only recently am I now understanding the best ways to do things… so you’re def. not alone my man! Real glad you got that site up too :)
@GB @ In Budgets We Trust – Haha, it does seem counter-intuitive ;)
@Yardwork – That’s a great one :) Def. something that you can get better with over time too.
@Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life – And you know what else?? Some people don’t even LIKE looking at prefessionaly done websites. I know I don’t very much. The second I get a “corporate” feel for something, and that personal touch is gone, I’m usually outta there real quick. There’s something to say about staying “normal” and personable on blogs like we’re talking about here. It doesn’t mean you have to have a crap site, or make it look ugly on purpose or anything, but if you start *looking* like a company people will start noticing (which is ofcourse OK if that’s the feeling you want to give off). All I know is I like relating to the blogs out there, and if they look like they’re maintained by average people like you and me, the chances I stick around are MUCH higher ;)

(And don’t even get me started on Facebook… *vomit*)

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8 DebtnTaxes March 22, 2012 at 11:05 am

I’ve been putting off moving my blog to my own self hosted domain. Mainly because I don’t know much about doing it. Just trying to learn a little bit more before I take the leap.

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9 Evan March 22, 2012 at 11:07 am

@FrugalFries

I completely get the paralysis by Analysis when it comes to financial decisions. I talked about what to do with my son’s christening money and came up with an answer (individual muni bonds rather than bond fund) but I am STILL doing research lol

@brian

I am glad you liked the post. I hope You come over to see what else I have to say

@Christopher TTAndTMBA

Your site looks fantastic if that makes you feel any better. I am glad you got going with it your blog will help you and a lot of other people

@GB

Did it inspire you to do anything specific?

@YardWark
That sounds FANTASTIC. You should write a post for J$ about it!

@Jessica @ FPL
I understand the problem a lot of people have with Facebook “upgrades” but someone did like it they just happen to be in the boardroom and not the end user lol

@J$

Thanks for letting me post!

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10 J. Money March 22, 2012 at 11:11 am

@DebtnTaxes – Actually, that’s one time I WOULD make sure it’s 100% perfect! Haha… a little tiny glitch there and everything goes bonkers, so def. keep researching or even just call up a hosting service (like Go Daddy) and ask them to do it for you, or to walk you through it. They all know how and get asked a billion times a day. That way it’s done *right* and saves you time :)

@Evan – Yeah dog! This was great, thanks for thinking of my site to guest post! :)

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11 John | Married (with Debt) March 22, 2012 at 11:17 am

Unfortunately I work for people who suffer from Analysis Paralysis. They will often let opportunities pass by because the overanalyzed their options. You would think they “work smarter, not harder,” but they don’t do that either.

I’m f*cked.

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12 Brent Pittman March 22, 2012 at 11:32 am

At some point, you just have to ship it, put it out there, press the send button, and wait naked for all to see. Scary, but necessary.

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13 Crystal March 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I have been putting off organizing our upstairs properly. I keep prioritizing online stuff. But I just listed a few things on Craigslist, so first step done. :-)

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14 Kris @ Debt-Tips March 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm

So very true! And it applies not just to making a decision and starting something new, but to what you are currently working on, too. Paralysis from too much analysis is definitely stifling to productivity.

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15 Marianne March 22, 2012 at 5:25 pm

We put off investing for a long time because of a lack of understanding. Finally we decided it would be better to just jump in and learn from our mistakes than put it off any longer. Obviously, we have started with a small amount though… Don’t want to screw up with a big amount! :)

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16 J. Money March 23, 2012 at 8:16 am

@John | Married (with Debt) – Yuck… maybe it’s worth thinking about becoming competition for them? ;)
@Brent Pittman – I like the “naked for all to see” part ;)
@Crystal – You mean you’re actually working hard on self-employment? Imagine that! :)
@Kris @ Debt-Tips – Yup! You got that right.
@Marianne – Hah! At least you’re now officially an investor! Well done! :)

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17 Evan March 24, 2012 at 9:56 am

@DebtnTaxes

Unless it is a cash flow thing then you should absolutely invest in a self hosted solution. It is SUPER easy and the sooner you do it the better. The longer you wait the harder and more costly (in terms of opportunity cost) it will be.

@John

Where do you work? What type of business?

@Brent
100% Correct!

@Crystal
Well it is time to get on top of it! As you start it just think about Evan…it will motivate you lol

@Kris
What are you currently working on?

@Marianne
That’s FANTASTIC! How are you starting your investment road?

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18 Matt, Tao of Unfear March 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Great in theory, except with Facebook it’s “Done is better than perfect, and you better just deal with it.” Whereas, with Google, it’s “Done is better than perfect, and we can always fix it based on user input and beta tests.”

It really stresses the importance of a beta test/”market research” of some kind. Facebook likes to roll things out to the general population when they’re still very broken—things that could have been fixed by a beta test. Having used Facebook since it was open to universities only, I definitely recall plenty of times that I was unable to upload pictures, unable to update my profile, unable to navigate the site, had chat stop working in the middle of a conversation, had my privacy settings reverted during an upgrade, etc. Google, 9 times out of 10, is going to offer users the option to try a new interface or product before it’s rolled out to the general population. And have the option of reverting back if it doesn’t work. Meanwhile, Google gets feedback from users and bloggers (as well as the new products/features getting hyped by actual users), and are able to fix the most GLARING issues before the general population ever sees it. It’s a win-win. Power users, who can tolerate bugginess, get the bleeding edge—the general population gets a product that’s more refined when it’s ready for them.

I don’t think anyone disagrees with the “done is better than perfect” mantra—it’s a question of how that translates into attitude toward the customer. In my experience, companies whose “done” product results in a beta of some sort, produce much better products (Google and Blizzard are the two that pop to mind most readily). QA before the official launch is so important. There’s a huge backlash every time Facebook pushes a buggy update, but it survives because people are addicted to it, and it’s big enough to take the punches. If a startup were to behave like that…

What made Facebook big (simplicity, exclusivity, social connectivity) is wholly different from what keeps it big (pervasiveness, brand recognition, addiction). Yes, it’s foolish to wait for perfection, since it will never come—but it’s equally foolish to model a startup after the MO of an established company.

I guess what I’m saying is, let someone, anyone, look at it before you unleash it on the general population—if they have considerable issues with the current iteration, fix them before anyone else sees it. Real usability problems are going to lead to bad reviews, and nothing more.

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19 Melissa @ Little House in the Valley March 24, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Thank you for this post! Great advice. It drives me crazy when people, myself included, wait for perfection. It is not possible, so just do it.

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20 femmefrugality March 24, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Couldn’t agree more! I’ve been running into this problem with group projects and club projects at school….everyone wants everything to be so perfect that we never end up getting anything done. We’re getting better at just pushing forward, but it’s been a rough road. SO if the only thing that’s holding you back is your own perfectionism…JUST DO IT.

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21 Jen March 25, 2012 at 10:41 am

I love this post, J. I just saved it in my favorites and printed it for reference. I’m very guilty of this. Sometimes the task is just so overwhelming that I can sit around all day and think and analyze how to attack it….but don’t actually attack it…..ugh. I’m a real perfectionist and it does genuinely slow me down. I’m going to be repeating the words “Done is better than perfect” over and over again! (And in my head, I need to also remind myself that my “done” is still really freakin good, so I shouldn’t be worried anyways!) I need to work on this big time and I just really appreciate this post about it! Good timing, too, as I just got a huge “side job” thrown at me that’s very overwhelming but also going to be very good $ for our little family. Thanks, J$!!

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22 Jen March 25, 2012 at 10:46 am

Oops….as I printed this, I realized it was a guest post! So THANK YOU, EVAN, TOO!!! ;) ( I was wondering how J$’s son was already born in 2010!?! LOL! Oh, wow….I need more sleep…….or coffee….

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23 Taline March 25, 2012 at 10:51 pm

I love this post! I can definitely relate to people needing to just get things started than sitting there and having a need to get everything perfect. I get the same, “which card should I pay off first?” question and I give a similar answer as you :)

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24 J. Money March 26, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Glad you all liked! It’s something I continuously need to work on a lot too – sometimes I’m better than others, but I def. have to remind myself a lot to just DO IT like Nike ;)

@Matt, Tao of Unfear – I agree when we’re talking about stuff that affects the general public. Products and services are a whooooole different ballgame in my eyes – esp when it comes to customer service. But for personal finances, done is usually better ;)

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