Don’t Make it Pretty, Make it Work

This morning as I surfed through the social networks and got a bit of work done, I ran across this interesting article on TechCrunch about how Facebook hacked the NASDAQ button to post a status about CEO Mark Zuckerburg ringing the bell this morning.

One line in the article struck me as very cool: “The finished product wasn’t exactly the prettiest thing, but hacks aren’t supposed to be. They’re just supposed to work.

It made me think of what it’s like to build an entrepreneurial business.

It’s not always pretty.

Trust me when I say that, having seen behind the scenes of lots of businesses (from tiny home businesses to six and seven figure businesses) in the past 12 years, it’s almost never pretty.

It’s messy.  It’s a fight.  It’s hard work.  Things sometimes fall apart and it takes trying over and over again to get it together.  But entrepreneurs find a way to make it all work.

That’s part of the adventure.

Decide what you want to do and make it happen, even if it’s messy.

My mother had a friend who danced ballet.  I remember her talking about the differences in the behind the scenes and what we saw on stage.  The dancers were beautiful, the dances choreographed to perfection.  From the outside it was pretty.  Off stage their toes were bleeding, they were in pain, there was tension about who got which roles and accolades, they were exhausted from endless rehearsals…  But on stage, in front of their audience, it worked — they danced their hearts out.  We only saw the “pretty” but there was a mess there, too.

Get better at letting go and jumping in with both feet.  Adjust as you go.  There’s no failure unless you give up and quit.

Get a grip on your inner control freak who wants everything to be pretty behind the scenes all the time.  Hack things and make it work.  Create systems from what works.  Then do it again, bigger and better.

“If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” – Mario Andretti

Ignore the fact that I just mixed hacking, ballet, and race car metaphors to describe your business.

Get out there and go zoom.

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  1. Great advice — this gal (me) is such a perfectionist that it often times destroys great, lightning bolt ideas because I just am not happy with it .. and it gets put aside :( But you are absolutely right! I shared a great image the other day on FB — it said “Just do it! Even if it sucks!” — I need to have that as my new mantra :)
    Kimberly ~ Gypsy recently posted… Cyber Gremlins Have Decided to Wreak Havok on My BlogMy Profile

    1. I love the way Bob the Teacher puts it — “Take Action, Revise Later.” Great book for getting motivated, too.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Cool Tool: If This Then ThatMy Profile

  2. LOL about you mixing hacking, ballet and race car metaphors. What’s important is the message that behind the scenes the props, sweat and struggles are what makes for the success and beauty we see in front. You can’t have the polished performance with the rehearsals and stagecraft.

    The behind-the-scene and up-close realities, by the way, is exactly why I don’t like front row orchestra seats or sitting near the kitchen in a restaurant. When I go out for entertainment I want to maintain that illusion of everything magically appearing beautifully and effortlessly.

    As a home-based entrepreneur, however, my inner control freak has grown weary over the years and let imperfection and messiness become part of the process. Success isn’t possible any other way.
    Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D. recently posted… What I Learned About the Kindle Select ProgramMy Profile

    1. I agree, Flora. Success requires letting go of some of that control and accepting that behind the scenes it’s going to be imperfect and messy.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Why I Don’t Worry About Pandas or Penguins or Whatever Else Google’s Up ToMy Profile

  3. Michelle, the beauty of the mixed metaphor is that it perfectly illustrates your point! I’m picturing Mario Andretti doing a jete on the racetrack while texting his pit crew.

    I’m hoping the mess I currently find my blog in works well enough to let me open the throttle on the product assembly line. Why do we obsess over heat-maps and headlines when we have so much important information to share?


    Mitchell Allen recently posted… How to REALLY Stop ProcrastinatingMy Profile

  4. You are an inspiration again, as always. At the moment this will help me actually PLANT my garden, rather than continuing to muse over the plan/the methods until the growing season is OVER. Thanks!

  5. This is definitely a post and a message I can wrap my heart and my brain around, Michelle!

    Whatever we’re doing behind the scenes does NOT need to be pretty or perfect. And all of us make some boo-boos along our journey, right? So we need not feel embarrassed or ashamed or anything of the kind. We just need to realize as entrepreneurs we’re all works in progress and the important thing is that we learn and improve as we go.

    Just like fine wines …
    That get better with age. :-)
    Melanie Kissell recently posted… Poem: “The Post Nobody Shared”My Profile

  6. I love your metaphors. I won’t mention Benny Hill because we’re in mixed company.
    Don’t wait for it to be perfect, there’s no such thing. Every time i read a blog post, I see something I should change. If you want to remain stuck, OMG, compare yourself to other internet marketers.

    I read somewhere that artists never finish their work; they just decide to let it go. I think about this statement when I find am second guessing myself.
    Adalia John recently posted… Are You Happy Infographic: Being Happy is SimpleMy Profile

  7. Nice advice, some people are such perfectionists that they never start something because it’s not perfect. I try to remember that life itself is not perfect. It’s always in the making.
    Lisa recently posted… In The Lost Land of Broken LinksMy Profile

  8. Congradulations on your metaphor mixing.

    Business is messy and Lord knows, never finished. By it’s very nature, things are always in flux, and precious few are able to stay on top of everything, all the time.

    As Prussian army officer Helmuth von Moltke said 150 years ago: “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.”

    Your customers are certainly not your enemy, and neither should be your competitors, but the quote holds true in business, nevertheless.
    Steve recently posted… Small Business Marketing Strategies From Steve Jobs That RockMy Profile

  9. Right. A good metaphor mixing.. A short post but has deep message not only in Business but also in real life (if we think about it) Business changes every now and then. You can not just simply relax because your initial strategy worked. If it changes again and you are not ready for the changes, you can not handle the effect. Don’t be satisfied, be challenged and make your business improved.

  10. Some people are such perfectionists that they never start something, because it is not perfect. Life itself is not perfect. Few are able to stay on top of everything, all the time.
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  11. I agree on Mario’s statement. Sometimes we have to think out of the box and realize what really is happening.
    Julien recently posted… Mother of the bride plus size dressesMy Profile

  12. Really a great and informative article.. Just making the thing pretty doesn’t work. The main thing is that it should be perform the task that it is intended. And there is not even a single thing that is perfect but our effort should concern on making thing very close to perfect..

  13. This post came right on time for me Michelle. It can be difficult building a business online and at times I wonder if I’m putting too much pressure on myself to make things perfect.

    At the end of the day you have to put your best foot forward and move. Move with massive action and believe that if you are doing the right things, good things will happen!

    Thanks for the mindset magic!
    Andrea Bolder recently posted… Packaging Your Online Brand In A Way That Stands Out From The CrowdMy Profile

  14. Michelle, you’re the best “kick-in-the-pants” entrepreneur I know! So many of us (myself included) get caught up in doing everything just right, and making sure everything looks or sounds perfect, that at times we don’t accomplish as much as we’d like. Thanks for the excellent reminder to “get ‘er done!”
    Lisa Kanarek recently posted… Ways to Work From Home When the Kids Are There, TooMy Profile

  15. Great post Michelle. Just like the Nike advert says “just do it” At the end of the day it is all about results.

  16. It is all about results Michelle. Sometimes business can be hard, but it is about getting the job done and getting to the next level.

  17. A few years ago I asked a leading software engineer to define ‘elegant code’. He said, “Elegant software code is whatever pleases the client.”

  18. One thing that stands out fairly early on in the game is that your business is never what you thought it was. It’s constantly changing and evolving as either the industry changes, or you, yourself change. Talking about work/not pretty I remember the early days of trying to code HTML :)
    I still am pretty terrible at it, but now have the sense to outsource it to someone who loves and is good at it! LOL

  19. I really liked your advice. I was also a perfectionists but I controlled much on myself now and off course life is also not perfect thats why we should not make our life or work difficult by making ourselves perfectionists.
    Syeda Mehwish recently posted… My Live Superfoods Review And Coupon CodesMy Profile

    1. Yep, just makes it tougher for us when we focus on perfection. Excellence is a better goal. :)

  20. Hi Michelle, have you noticed that no one’s names appear next to their comments? Is this an error or by design? I can’t find your contact me button, otherwise I would have asked you via there,

    1. Definitely not by design. I was modifying my stylesheet yesterday and I think I changed something I need to un-change. :)

      Contact is in the top navigation — I’ll see if I can also figure out how to make that easier to spot. :)

    2. All better now – thanks for alerting me!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 7 Reasons You Aren’t Feeling Creative (And How to Fix It Quick)My Profile

  21. It is a pleasure Michelle.

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