4 Ways Perfectionism Can Crumble Your Business


Yeah! Nobody should begrudge you that as a founder. What you want for your business is the best. You want your brand to be a household name and for that, you are willing and ready to give in all.  You deem everything should work tick tock to attain the status of perfectionism. But wait a minute. Is that really right?

Perfectionism has the adaptive or healthy aspects since it makes you strive for excellence. Normal or positive perfectionism breeds a higher self-esteem. Gordon L. Flett, a psychology professor at York University says “It’s natural for people to perfect in few things, say in their job – being a good editor or surgeon depends on not making mistakes. It’s when it generalizes to other areas of life, home life, appearance, hobbies, that you begin to see real problems.”

Perfectionism makes you aim high and possibly achieve great things but the dangerous aspect is that you may be doomed to failure because you will most often set standards that are super-human and completely unattainable. The goals you set will not be achieved and you end up with mental health and wellbeing problems. Perfectionism sets you out as a workaholic and you will unlikely take the necessary breaks that your body and brain require for healthy functioning.

Perfectionism can be broadly divided into three different types:

  • Self-oriented perfectionism, in which individuals impose a high standard on themselves.
  • Socially prescribed perfectionism, where individuals feel others expect them to be perfect.
  • Other-oriented perfectionism, in which individuals place high standards on others.


At this point, it will be appropriate to take a look at the different ways perfectionism may cripple your business if you allow the hydra-headed problem to rear its head in your brand.

  1. Psychological distress

According to a research carried out by Dr. Michael Freeman, a clinical professor at the University of California, 30 percent of all entrepreneurs experience depression. This figure is very disturbing since most times the end result of depression is suicide. When the founder dies, the business especially when it’s at the infancy stage will not see the light of the day.

Psychological distress is an onset of burnout and burnout is most of the times a testament to perfectionism. A burnt-out founder will definitely be bereft of ideas to move the brand forward and the end result will be catastrophic

Quite unlike people who are labeled psychos and know they have psychiatric problems, perfectionists do not make any effort to battle the stigma and do not consider themselves dysfunctional. Alice Provost, an employee assistance counselor at the University of California, Davis, who recently ran group therapy for staff members struggling with perfectionism says, “they’re very proud of it.”

It behooves anybody to ask what the outcome will be when you as a founder have a psychiatric problem and do not know. The brand is in for a gigantic downturn. You are potentially sitting on a keg of gunpowder and you can only end up blowing your brand into bits and pieces.

  1. Stagnation

When your business stops growing the next thing is for it to head down the drain. One sure factor that can bring about this is stagnation which can easily be caused by perfectionism. You may in an attempt to score a high point in the society have a combination of the three types of perfectionism with the greatest leaning on one of them.

All three are potentially dangerous to your business. There is bound to be counter-production since everyone has their own version perfectionism and what you deem perfect may not work out with your partners and employees. Your leadership status will obviously be affected, because of the time and neurosis required to make something perfect come at a high cost of flexibility, responsiveness, and cooperation.

  1. Reduction of creativity and innovation

For a business to thrive, the R&D section must always come up with innovative ideas on products and marketing strategies. Often, when carrying out researches there is bound to be failures from which you learn. A perfectionist abhors failures and for this reason will not give room to trials. Innovations and creativity are bundled into the back room.

How on earth do you believe you can keep up with global trends and happenings when you refuse to strategize and re-strategize? The price you pay is being boxed to a corner and eventually losing out from the business world. Your refusal and intolerance for uncertainty characterize obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized disorder, too.

  1. Interactive inhibition

You will find it very difficult to interact with others, after all, you are the Mr. Perfect and any other person’s idea is bunkum to you. According to a lab experiment carried out by Hill, it was discovered that perfectionists tend to respond more harshly in terms of emotions. They experience more guilt, more shame. They also experience more anger.

It will therefore not be out of place to expect a perfectionist to always bottle up and definitely since you won’t be wanting to share with people, having completely alienated yourself from partners who may offer support and encouragement, the many times you get frustrated because you didn’t get it right and refuse to interact with people can only lead to suicidal tendencies.

It’s logical to conclude that for a business to thrive globally with all the inherent competition in the market, your competitive advantage will be based on reaching out, liaising with partners and employees to fashion out the best, and possibly outsourcing to technocrats. You can never get it right with perfectionist tendencies.

You must give room for mistakes being made and corrective measures to be taken. Rather than get it right, you may end up sprawling on the ground with your business. The attendant result is that you and your brand will be get blown into the oblivion.

Featured Image Credit: Can Pac Swire Flickr via Compfight cc

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About John Ejiofor

John Ejiofor is a curious life-researcher, whose quest to finding answers to life's pertinent questions has led to founding Nature Torch. This blog aims to debate and explore many questions about our earth -- including those a lot of people are uncomfortable with asking. He has been published on some of the internet's most respected websites, which you can find online.
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