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The first article in this series listed more than 25 tactics to increase your business success, all of them based on my experience.

In another article in the series, I talk about having a sense of urgency. This article is about the flipside of urgency, procrastination. It’s easy to rationalize putting off something you know you should be doing to build your business. It is particularly easy for entrepreneurs because we’re busy and the day-to-day work of getting and keeping clients often gives us the perfect excuse to ignore projects that have strategic payoffs.

One of my favorite sayings is that you don’t know what you don’t know. It certainly applies to procrastination. Some years back, I served on the board of an internet gaming company in which I was an investor. This firm had big plans. It intended to grow and to become the dominant player in its segment of historical air warfare games.

The company had a good game and the game’s creators understood the technology necessary to make game play seem realistic. The technical people assured the board and investors that the firm’s system was robust enough to handle 500,000 players, even though they had only between 2,000 and 5,000 players on any given day at the time.

“Don’t worry. It will scale,” they said. However, we didn’t know what we didn’t know.

At the time, Microsoft featured a computer game on their home page every day. One day, they chose our game! That day, 100,000 players arrived to try our game in the space of an hour. Our server went down and stayed down until the following morning, when our usual 2,000 to 5,000 players showed up.

We had our big day to shine and we were not ready because we hadn’t prepared for success. The company limped along and eventually failed, but it could have been very different had the team not put off testing whether our systems really would scale.

Recently, I was helping another business owner. I had been trying to get him to focus on updating his website because online presence is a crucial part of marketing in his industry. He was always “working on it,” but he never seemed to reach the goal posts. A year passed and he still had the same dated site up.

One day, this owner received the sort of surprise business owners dream about. He was booked to appear as a guest on national television. The show has a nightly audience composed of millions of customers interested in what he sells. He had a week to do what I had been asking him to do for more than a year and couldn’t get it done.

How much did the procrastination cost him? It’s hard to know. Certainly, the appearance gave him the opportunity to get as much traffic in a day as he had gotten in several years. Not being ready cost him the chance to shine.

How can you ensure you will be ready to take advantage of life’s opportunities? The simple answer is to have a sense of urgency in all you do. Had this businessperson broken down the web project into its component steps and set a goal with a deadline for each, he would have had a beautiful site done when opportunity arrived.

A goal without a deadline is a dream. It’s fine to dream, but take the goal setting steps and practice urgency so that you can make the most of your share of golden opportunities. When you are working on goals, you can always make course corrections. If you miss – adjust the deadline and keep right on driving for the goals that matter.

Much of the success that I have had in business and life comes from knowing that I don’t have to do it perfectly. You don’t either. You only need to do enough to win and very often focusing 50 percent effort in the right areas is enough to get you 80 percent or better of the way to victory. Sometimes, details matter, but other times they only slow you down.

A plan that is 80 percent right and gets implemented and adjusted based on real world results is much better than a plan that never gets off the ground because the person trying to make it happen insists on having the perfect plan before taking action. Don’t let your desire for perfection stop you from starting. After all, you can’t win unless you play.

Think about the strategic initiatives that are in your “I’ll finish it someday” pile. How many of them could you get to an 80 percent level if you broke them down, set deadlines, and accepted some imperfection along the way?

Whatever the project or initiative you’re dreaming of set some deadlines and get going. Set a date now – cycle back and check on it, fine tuning if necessary – later.

Published in the August 2017 Edition of American Recycler News