The deadliest sin at the beginning of your journey is pride.
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"Looks great, doesn't it?" It took me hours to build the entertainment center for our new apartment. Let's just say my craftsmanship was less than superb: one of the side panels was facing back, and I had even managed to scratch the glass doors before I finished. I didn't care. I took pride in my mediocre build and that's all that matters … right?
The behavioral economist and TEDx spokesman Dan Ariely coined a term for this way of thinking: the IKEA effect. The concept is simple: the more time and effort you put into a creation, the more attached you are to it. The IKEA effect is good for particleboard furniture making and other personal hobbies, but as an aspiring entrepreneur, it will sink you in before you even start.
Related: 5 fatal entrepreneurial delusions
The problem with being overly tied to your work is that it makes pivoting or abandoning a project a whole lot more painful. Entrepreneurship is about innovation and creation, but also about separating what you want to work from what actually works.
If you're stuck with your business idea or the way you market it, hold back. Here are three ways to break free of attachments and develop a more flexible perspective.
Be productive, not perfect
The origin of the 10,000-hour rule for mastering is a study by the late K. Anders Ericsson of violin students in 1993. This standard has been controversial for decades, but one thing is certain: the best violinists – and even midfielders – have a lot practiced.
We all want to make a great product, but just thinking about the perfect offer or prototype is not enough. We have to test it. We need to publish and ship the product before we feel ready. As LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman notes, "If you're not embarrassed about the first version of your product, you brought it to market too late."
Consistent output will help you get the feedback (or crickets) you need for your next step. What works? What not? If you wait for perfection before shipping you will never know for sure.
Related: 10 Fears to Overcome When Starting a New Business
Find feedback loops that support you
Many aspiring entrepreneurs – and especially creative people – like to lean on this idea of the tormented artist. There is a misconception that in order to build something great, you have to lock yourself up and do it all by yourself without a break. This dream is toxic and it can prevent you from getting the valuable feedback that you need to improve and break through.
Instead of dreading feedback, seek it out. Every hole in your value proposition makes you so much stronger in the long run.
Remember that the other end of the spectrum is destructive too. “Radical openness” and other buzzwords for brutal, unsupportive honesty feel like a must to make it to the top, but a real coach or mentor will both give you tough feedback and help you move forward.
Related: Asking help is good for you and your business
The most dangerous facet of the IKEA effect is that when people tell you your creation stinks is a blow to your ego. If you're not used to this, slowly (if at all – a lot of people just give up) you recover and the hours you spent on your mind will be gone forever.
At best, this gives you even more incentive to try out new product features or marketing campaigns. The worst that can happen is that you make a mistake – this gives you an opportunity to recover and build resilience over time.
It's good to feel excited and inspired by your next business venture. Inspiration is the fuel that drives us all along this crazy path. However, resist the urge to build an echo chamber that will shield you from the truth about your business. Get feedback from others, make a commitment to grow along the way, and soon the right kind of trust will surge to the surface.