There are valid times in life when a situation may call for striving for and attaining perfection. A good example of “good” perfectionism might be if you are competing in a pistol shooting contest. The shooter that gets the most shots into the “perfect” area of the bull’s eye wins. However, business and life in general, is more all-encompassing than any competitive sport. In life as well as business, we deal with a lot of different situations on a lot of different levels. There are literally hundreds of variables we deal with each day. In a competitive sport, you may have a few variables such as weather, different opponents and such, but the target basically remains unchanged and at the same distance from the shooter, depending on the event. The most “perfect” wins. However, this isn’t the reality of everyday life and business. This is where the B+ Principle is important.
There are a few qualities in your business and personal life that one should strive for an A+. Those items are honesty, ethics, reputation, strong family ties and those type issues. Aside from that, a B+ attitude can yield great results.
Business people such as real estate entrepreneurs, tend to fall into three categories. The first category is the investor that tends to just “get by”. They operate by the skin of their teeth, always putting out fires and their dealings usually reflect this attitude. Important details are often overlooked or forgotten, their paperwork is a mess and they spend quite a bit of time undoing some of the things that they’ve done either sloppily or incorrectly.
The second category of investor is the perfectionist. This entrepreneur tends to overanalyze deals and thus misses out on some great business opportunities. This is because they spend too much time looking over and analyzing a deal and other business opportunities, before taking action. By the time they make a decision, someone else has either snapped up the property or the opportunity has gone away. Other aspects of their business either tend to be ignored or are infinitely tweaked in a never ending quest to achieve perfection.
The third type of entrepreneur is one that adheres to the B+ or “good enough is good enough” principle. These folks do not operate on the fly and do not have to undo most of the things they have done. They take what information is available, calculate the critical time necessary to make an educated decision and act upon the situation. They do not spend a lot of time putting out fires. Even though they have high standards, they also realize that if they get a project to 95% perfect, that is probably good enough. They understand that the time they may spend getting from 95% to 100% perfect, is time that would be better spent on some of the other needs of their business. They understand the law of “diminishing returns”, and how it applies to them and their business.
You should ask yourself the question: “Which category do I fall into?” All of us will certainly identify with one of the above- mentioned categories, however most of us have ingredients of each, depending on the situation. The good news is, no matter what category you currently are in, whether you just “get by” or you are a perfectionist, with knowledge and effort you can train yourself to become one of the B+ entrepreneurs! If you are already primarily a B+ person, then read on for some suggestions on how to get even better!
First of all, let’s take a look at some of the causes of extreme perfectionism. On the good side, people that are perfectionists tend to have high standards. They’re very detail oriented, which can be a big plus the world of real estate, especially when it comes to contracts and the other small details that can make or break a deal. On the not so good side, like the rest of us, perfectionists can be afraid of failure or rejection. They can have significant feelings of insecurity. Like many of us, they could use some work on their self-confidence. Perfectionists tend to use the guise of revisiting a potential project, partially to avoid moving ahead on that project-just in case it might fail. Unfortunately, they are their own worst enemy when it comes to the success of their business and other aspects of their lives.
An example of perfectionism in real estate investing is a marketing campaign involving mailers. In this example an investor/perfectionist obtains a list in order to send a mailer to their particular farm area. The perfectionist then spend endless hours tweaking the list in order to make it absolutely the best they think it can be. They next determine the date that they believe that the mailer must be sent out by for maximum results. So, they begin designing the marketing piece. Finally, they start off with the basic concept, lay it out, and maybe even get input from others. Once they get the input, they make the changes and instead of sending out the mailer or even split testing it with an alternate version, they continue to re-tweak the mailer until their mailing deadline comes and then goes.
There are many national and worldwide organizations such as car manufacturers, airlines, hotels and more that operate successfully with the B+ principal. McDonald’s is a prime example of this. For each company, what they determine as acceptable, varies. A five-star hotel, for example, will have a higher standard of what is acceptable for their customers than a chain of three or four-star motels. On the other hand, the motel chain realizes that not all consumers desire, or can even afford a five-star hotel. They have a targeted consumer that they go after with their marketing and they keep their standards high enough to successfully accommodate the majority of those consumers. Both hotel and motel chains also understand that it’s almost impossible to get a 100% satisfaction rate, as people tend to be very diverse in their wants, needs and desires. You have to determine who your customer is and make every effort to accommodate them, but that’s as far as it goes.
So how do you become a B+ investor? Here are a few suggestions:
Have Clear Objectives. Whether you are the type of business person that just tends to “get by” or you are a perfectionist, how you get to the level of being a B+ player? First of all you start by having a clear objective of what a particular project is all about.. Have a solid reason to achieve this objective.
Set Acceptable, not Perfect Results. The next step is determining what is an acceptable result in order to achieve this objective? What is good enough? We want you to set your standards high and strive for very good results, but ask yourself what is truly and realistically acceptable?
Plan for Success, But Be Realistic and Flexible. Once you’ve determined what would be an acceptable result, then you need to start with planning for success. It is okay to imagine what a perfect result might be, but realize that the perfect result very rarely happens. In real estate deals there are also some obstacles that are somewhat predictable, and it is smart business to plan to try to minimize those. Remember, it is important that your acceptable results are also realistic. Keep in mind the best possible scenario, but also make sure you understand the risks and what could go wrong.
Be flexible and open minded. If things don’t go as planned, you either may have to come up with something creative, using the experience as an education, cut your losses if needed, and move on.
Think About What Efforts Will Most Impact the End Result in a Positive Manner? Early on in the project, what do you envision the end result of this project to be? You have to ask yourself “If I continue to revisit the smallest details on a project time after time, will it really make any difference on the end result of this deal?” Honestly, when you think about it, by trying to over-perfect your deal, results actually may be less acceptable or at least not as good. It’s entirely possible that you could kill a deal if you take too long to take the steps needed to try to achieve a perfect end result. Buyers and sellers might get tired of waiting. The marketing may never go out in a timely manner. A lender that you or your end buyer are using, or your title company may have a deadline that could negatively impact your deal if you don’t deliver what is requested in a timely manner to them.
Plan Your Action steps. Set in motion the action steps needed to move the project ahead in a logical and timely manner. First and foremost, put together a plan that involves all the major steps.. Don’t get too caught up in all of the sub-steps involved at this time or the project may overwhelm you.
Set Milestones. Next, set milestones and a timeline for each action step. These can be put into your planning calendar just as we discussed in the chapter on Time Management. It’s okay to have an idea of the sub-steps between the various milestones, but concentrate most heavily on the milestone you’re currently on, the steps involved, and the very next one you’re trying to get to.
Delegate. You hopefully spent a lot of time and effort on developing a great team of people that can assist you in your business. Be sure to use them when necessary. It will take some of the load off of you, and in many cases, if you delegate to them in their area of specialized knowledge and expertise, you may obtain higher quality and quicker results than if you tried to plow through it yourself
Manage and Oversee As Needed. When you delegate, be it a team member or a staff member, you are still are not absolved from overseeing that particular action step was done correctly and the results are B+. This is where a lot of entrepreneurs fall down. They either micromanage a project and do it themselves, or upset the folks they have delegated to or- they delegate and then don’t check the final results. Either way you may get unacceptable results.
Develope a Self- Confident Attitude. The old saying “Fake it until you make it”, can help you work through new territory and new challenges, even if you aren’t 100% certain of every move and what your next move should be. There is nothing better than having a few projects under your belt, some successful and some not to move you in the right direction. Get used to being out of your comfort zone!!
Analyze Your Strengths and Weaknesses. Take a look at yourself. Talk to team members. Have your mentor give you their opinion. Make a list. Use your strengths to your advantage and improve areas in which you need work.
Understand That It Is OK to Make Mistakes. No one is perfect. You will make mistakes. The important thing is that you acknowledge them, learn from them, don’t repeat them, and don’t keep reliving them. Take the experience, better yourself and move on, both personally and professionally.
Celebrate Even the Small Victories. It’s important to celebrate even the “small stuff” especially when you are just starting out. We, as humans, tend to dwell on the things that are wrong in our current situation in our personal and business lives and ignore that fact we are growing and improving. Even if we are taking two or three small steps forward and sliding back a step, we are moving ahead. Be sure to celebrate appropriately.
Understand that being either an underachiever or a perfectionist can be detrimental to both your personal and professional life. Obviously, your reputation, honesty and ethics need to be as A+ as possible. However in most items regarding your day to day business and the things that it takes to become successful, from the B+ principle can grow greatness. Here’s to your success!
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Attorney William ("Bill") Bronchick, host of Legalwiz.com, has authored six best-selling books and is sought nationwide for his 25+ years of real estate and legal knowledge. He has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, such as CNBC, TIME Magazine, USA Today, Investor Business Daily, Forbes, and the LA Times, to name a few. William Bronchick is the co-founder and past President of the Colorado Association of Real Estate Investors and the Executive Director and founder of the College of American Real Estate Investors. Click on the "About" link above for more information on William Bronchick.