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Are You Suffering from Perfection Paralysis?

Sheryl Thai

Making the decision to start a business is tough. What’s even harder is knowing where to start or when you’re ready to launch.

It’s a terrifying thing when you’re about to reveal to the world what you’ve been working on like a mad person, and it feels like your life’s work.

You know how it is, you start to second guess yourself, pushing out deadlines because you need it to be just flawless and you can’t produce anything less than perfect. Then you get stuck in a rut and wonder whether anyone will actually give two hoots about what you’re doing and if anyone will actually give you their hard-earned dollars. And before you know it, you spiral into a place where you put everything on hold, waiting for a better time to start or launch. But instead you’re actually just watching re-runs of Breaking Bad.

What you may be suffering from is something called perfection paralysis – this fear is keeping you from moving forward when you should be feeling pumped!

When I made the decision to leave my IT Consultant role (or lost my job rather) and said bye bye to my six-figure salary to ‘bake cupcakes for a living’ – I wasn’t about to spend 2-3 years in a patisserie school. I wanted to get my hands dirty with batter and start making some goldcakes (cupcakes that are profitable) to get that dough rolling in. So that’s what I did. I started baking at every opportunity I had, because I knew that my sucky looking cupcakes would improve with practice.

To be honest my cupcakes weren’t that perfect when I launched my online business from home and I continued to perfect my recipes and technique for 10 months before we opened our first bricks & mortar store. Did I get complaints? Sure did. Did people still order my cupcakes? They sure did. Did I learn from each mistake? For sure.

So here are a few strategies that helped me get through that rut:

The secret to getting ahead is getting started…

Doing something is better than doing nothing. I’m not talking about watching GoT when you know you have that thing to do. Sit down somewhere that you can’t be distracted by your phone, your dog, your mirror. Then write out a heading for your project (this is where pen and paper comes in handy) and list out everything you need to do to make shit happen. Right or wrong just list it out. Chunk it up. Write it in your diary with an empty box next to it. It feels satisfying to tick that empty box when you do it.

“If you talk about it, it’s a dream, if you envision it, it’s possible, but if you schedule it, it’s real.”

One of my all-time favourite people, Tony Robbins, taught me that quote. I haven’t actually met him in real life yet but he talks to me on a weekly basis if not a daily basis when I read his books or listen to his words of wisdom from 1990’s audio tapes. This has to be one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever ingrained into my brain. What better way to get your butt moving and kettlebell swinging than to commit to a date. To make sure that I launched my business as efficiently as I could, I did a crazy thing and called up the local farmers market to put a deposit on a stall before I got anything ready. This meant I had 3.5 months to tick everything on my list to be able to start selling at the markets. Soon enough I was working full steam ahead and came up with a menu of cupcake flavours, got my home kitchen registered by the Health Department, and created my logo & brand. It was the motivation that I needed to get it done.

It’s ok to suck really bad… the first time.

I used to cringe when I think about this photo I posted up on Facebook followed by the caption, “Pretty cupcakes I baked… mmm. I’m going to open a cupcakery one day!” … and not one of my 700+ friends liked that photo.

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You know what? At least I tried. All those people that thought I did a sucky job didn’t say anything to me and at that time, everyone still ate them and said they were great. So if this is not a good enough picture to tell you it’s ok to suck, then I don’t know what will be.

Whether you want to run a workshop, be a singer or compete in a bodybuilding competition – you need to start somewhere – and one day you can tell this story to someone else about how you really sucked at something but then got really good at it. It is a more inspiring story than telling someone that you were just born great. 

Here are Sheryl’s gorgeous cupcakes as they look today!

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Have you gone ‘from sucky to great’ in your business? Share your story in the comments!

About Sheryl Thai


Sheryl lost her IT Consultant job during the GFC and decided to leave the corporate world to follow her dream to open a cupcake bakery. Four years later, together with her partner, Thin Neu, they have 3.5 Cupcake Central stores, self published a cookbook and employ over 35 staff. Sheryl also co-founded the League of Extraordinary Women to support other young female entrepreneurs.

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