Are you still putting off that project?

How long have you been working on that new project?

Why haven’t you gotten it off the ground?  What are you waiting for?

If you’re like many of us, you’re still trying to get it just right.  I know I’ve said myself, “I want to get this right the first time around!”

But let me tell you, that is exactly why we have trouble getting those great new projects up and running.  It’a all about what one of my mentors, Sean D’Souza, calls The 70% Principal.

So what is the 70% Principle?

It’s simply that if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing 70% right.  You can come back and do the 20% later.

If you’re building a new website, get it 70% right and come back and do the other 20% as you have time.
If you’re creating a new design and don’t have all the products you need, get it 70% as you want it and then add the 20% later.
Even when making a recipe that I found in a magazine, I usually don’t have 100% of the ingredients without making a trip to the grocery store.  If you have 70% of the ingredients, make it and substitute for the rest.

I’m not telling you to create a less than good product or a less than perfect website or even a less than what you dreamed of kind of business.

What I am saying is that in our desire for perfection, we frequently never get past the starting line.  The website is never built, the new product is never created, and the business is never begun.  What I’m saying is  get whatever is your best effort out there today and then work on improving it.

Let me explain what I mean.  Way back when I first started my website for Creative Gifts To Go, it was a free site on homestead.  I didn’t know much about websites but knew that I needed one.  I created the best website I could at the time but it wasn’t perfect by any means.  As I have learned more about website design, search engine optimization, and marketing, that website has evolved through the years.  Today, it is the best I can do today.  But it’s still not perfect.  And it will continue to evolve as I learn more.

Another example, a number of years ago, members of my asked me to develop a site where they could communicate with each other.  I didn’t know much about membership sites at the time but paid someone to create a site on the Joomla platform which I operated for several years.  It wasn’t perfect but it was the best I could do at the time and it worked.

The Evolution Continued

Then, unexpectedly the print magazine for our industry, Rave Reviews, ceased to exist and left a great void.  I had been a staff writer for the magazine from its very first issue and was asked by members of GiftBasketNetwork to create something to replace it.  Research determined that creating a quality print magazine costs lots of money and wasn’t practical with today’s economy where vendors are spending less on advertising.  So, I applied the 70% Principal and opted to go the digital route.  The result is what you have today — a large information-packed magazine that readers can print out and use as they need to.

Is it perfect?  Far from it.  Most of us prefer to have a magazine that we can hold in our hands but aren’t willing to pay what it would cost to produce one that has the quality we desire.  Will our magazine continue to evolve?  Of course.  That’s what the 70% Principal is all about.  Will it become a print magazine eventually?  Not until there is enough monetary support from subscriptions and advertising to allow us to make it a quality magazine that we can be proud of.

Instead of waiting until we had it 100% right, we created the best magazine for our industry that we could at the time and launched it. And we’re still working on, and will continue to work on the other 20%.

One Last Story

The magazine resulted in a desire for more from our readers.  I had GiftBasketNetwork and the community that went with it on the Joomla foundation.  It was 70% of what I wanted but it needed to evolve.  By working with it through the years, I had discovered that the Joomla platform didn’t give me what I needed to create the other 20%.

So rather than working on something that would never be 100%, we went back to the drawing board and created a new community on the ning platform.  This was an improvement over the original one but it was still 70% and had problems that we could see in the future.  The result is that we launched the best community platform we could at that time and it worked.  The activity and participation is great.  But there is still that other 20% and still the desire for perfection.

So we’re still evolving.  You’ll see announcements in the coming months about where we are headed in our desire for the other 20%.

So, do you see what I am saying?

Any project that is worth undertaking is worth doing  70% right.  You can always evolve and fix the 20% later.  So if you’ve been planning that next project but have delayed getting it off the ground until you have everything you need to achieve the perfection you desire, don’t wait.  Just do it!  The other 20% can come as you grow and evolve.


A lesson from a Great Entrepreneur

Thanks to for this great post.

“What can the average Joe learn from Steve Jobs?”

I can’t remember a world mourning the loss of a business leader like we’ve witnessed this past week after the announcement of Steve Job’s death.  The fact that FEEL the loss, that we GRIEVE this man’s passing and that we WORRY that no one can take his place tells you something.

What other business leader do you have genuine feelings for?  What other CEO’s speech did you search for on   For me, the answer is no one.

As I read, watched and listened to the many eulogies and memorials written for Steve, I kept thinking — but how does who and what Steve Jobs was all about relate to you and me?

Odds are, we aren’t going to work for a company like Apple.  We aren’t going to bring products to market that literally re-define the category.  We aren’t going to have hundreds of thousands of people downloading our “state of the company” addresses.

So what’s the take away?  Other than loving our Apple products and marveling at how they’ve changed our behaviors and habits — how can we emulate the legacy of Steve Jobs when we’re just average Joes?

I believe that Steve Jobs was genuine and that he would have been the same Steve Jobs had he run a hardware store or worked in obscurity for his lifetime.  Here’s what I think he would have been like, no matter what, and what you and I can strive for:

He believed with his whole heart in what he was doing: There were plenty of naysayers and we all seem to forget that Steve and Apple had a falling out.  But he believed in it to his core.  He believed in it enough to go back and try again.

How about you?  Do you believe in your product/service to that degree?  If the company fired you…. would you fight to get back there to finish what you started?

He understood the power of simplicity: Whether it was a speech or a product, Jobs boiled things down to the essential and then made it easy for us to grasp.  He didn’t blather on — he told us a story that led to one core message that we could remember and re-tell.

Take a look at your website, your brochures, your sales proposals and your presentations.  Are you trying to shove five pounds worth of information and bullet points into a one pound bag?  At a glance… could I tell you the most important takeaway?

He knew you couldn’t fake it long term: The man was who he was, warts and all.  He didn’t try to be anything different.  He knew he couldn’t sustain it.  He didn’t wear ties because a meeting was important.  He didn’t hide his giddiness over a new product because it would be unprofessional.  He wore his heart on his sleeve because he understood that for many people — he was the brand.  And brands are all about consistency and trust.

If I visit your office, your website or your home — do I see the same person?  Do I recognize the same values and beliefs?  Even if you don’t own the joint — surely you want to work for a company that shares your values, don’t you?  Do you not allow your business contacts to be Facebook friends because they might see something you don’t want them to?

He understood marketing: Watch this very old and so so quality video as a very young Steve Jobs talks about marketing and brands.  He got it.  I think much of his success can be tied to his understanding that every company, big or small, needs to stand for something.

Watch this very special video here:

If you asked your clients what your company was all about — would they list what you sell or would they talk about what you believe?

No matter what you do — you can bring a little of Steve’s heart and business acumen to your work.

Godspeed Steve Jobs — thanks for reminding all of us how it should be done.

The Girl with the Grandmother Face

There are times when something makes you think of your own mortality.  One of these times was  when I read the other day that Steve Jobs died at age 56 but he lived life to the fullest.  This isn’t the first time that I’ve been reminded that life doesn’t last forever.  One of those times was  seven years ago when I wrote the following:

I don’t often write about myself, but this is one of those times.  Occasionally things happen in our lives that make us stop, review, and consider.  February was one of those times for me.

Early in the month, I slipped on the ice in my own driveway, landing flat on my back.  After a couple weeks and almost $500, I was almost back to normal when I was hit with the flu. The timing was perfect —the day before Valentine’s Day.  Fortunately most of the gift basket orders had been completed and lined up for delivery. And I had a wonderful husband who stepped in and made all those deliveries.  Too stubborn to go to the doctor for antibiotics (I had had the flu shot hadn’t I!), I spent two weeks recovering.  To finish out the month, one of my fellow Exchange Club members, Joy Duprey, an active and energetic woman, died at the age of 57.  (And, to think at age 25, 57 seemed ancient!).  I know better now.

These events led me to ask myself, “Why are you operating a business at the age of 63? Shouldn’t you be taking it easy, traveling, enjoying the grand kids, and doing whatever retired people do?”

It didn’t take me long to answer myself with more questions?  How old is old?  How long is life?  And what do you want to do with the rest of it?  The answers came easily.  I’ve stuffed more living into 63 years than many people.  I’ve traveled, had dinner with Eleanor Roosevelt, stood on the lawn in Washington and watched President Kennedy take the oath of office.  I’ve flown gliders, organized a children’s theatre, and served on the City Council, Planning Commission, and School Board.  I’ve been married for 44 years and raised two daughters who are each, in their own way, successes in life.  One is a stay-at home mom who home schools her kids and the other is Yavapai County ’s Teacher of the Year.  As a frequently published freelance writer and business owner, I’ve achieved my dreams.

What do I want to do with the rest of my life?  “Live it to the fullest!” I reply to myself. And what better way than to do what I find challenging and enjoyable?  I grew Arizona Singles into a successful business before selling it and have been growing “Creative Gifts To Go” for the past 12 years into a venture I can be proud of.  It started as a small local gift basket company and has expanded into a nationwide gift service company.  It has branched out to include promotional products, property management gifts, Grand Canyon Teddy Bears, and a national gift basket  network.  Why would I want to stop now?  I have new ideas, more plans and goals for the future

As I look in the mirror, I no longer see the young girl who boldly stepped out of a sheltered childhood into the world of reality as she wondered what lies ahead.  The girl in the mirror, staring back at me, now has a grandmother face.  The face has changed but the girl is still here.  The awe and wonder has been replaced with maturity and experience.  This girl with the grandmother face is going to take advantage of every minute to live life to the fullest. After all, that’s what success and happiness is all about.

(That was seven years ago.  I’ve just celebrated my 70th birthday.  I was asked when teaching a small business class today, “Is your exit strategy to sell your business?”  And, my reply was, “Unless I die first.”  I plan to operate my businesses as long as I enjoy them, as long as I have a passion for them, and as long as I am able to.  Just as I wrote seven years ago, “this girl with the grandmother face is going to take advantage of every minute to live life to the fullest.”  And doing what I love is exactly that.)

Unexpected Moments of Inspiration

You never know when you’ll suddenly happen upon an unexpected moment of inspiration.  I’ve visited the Grand Canyon many times.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but the first time I ever saw it back in 1960, I was a little disappointed.  Sure, it was massive, beautiful, impressive but as I told my husband, “it’s just like looking at a postcard.”

I visited the Grand Canyon once again last week.  Once again, it was massive, beautiful, impressive and was like looking at a postcard.  But there was an unexpected moment that made the Grand Canyon suddenly come alive and become more than just a view.

We were walking down the rim trail to Mather Point when we heard music.  We were above the point but looking down, we saw a group of Japanese tourists standing next to guard rail, looking out over the massive Canyon view.  And, they were singing in perfect harmony:

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

An unexpected moment that sent chills down my back as the Grand Canyon suddenly became much more than just a massive, impressive, beautiful postcard view.