Over the years, I’ve seen a pattern in new coaches that causes them to get so bogged down with details and a desire for perfection that they end up never actually launching their businesses.
Their intentions are good—they want to start strong and “do it right” the first time.
However, they lose sight of what’s fundamentally important in the process, and their coaching dream gets put on the back burner… sometimes indefinitely.
I came up with this parable to illustrate how you can avoid this trap and focus on the most meaningful actions needed to launch your coaching business sooner rather than later. And then build upon this foundation to refine and grow your business as time goes on.
The Parable of the Lemonade Stand
Veronica had crafted a lemonade recipe that she wanted to share with the world.
She’d begin with delicately simmering dried lavender in water.
While that was going, she’d juice some fresh Meyer lemons from her own backyard lemon tree. She planted that tree as a sapling 10 years ago, and nurtured it with tender loving care into the luxuriant tree it now was. It produced the best, juiciest lemons.
When the lavender was finished simmering, she’d strain the hot fragrant water through a cheese cloth. Then she’d gently stir in just the right amount of honey from her friend’s local bee farm until it was completely dissolved. Once the sweet herbal water cooled, she’d mix in the juice from her sensational Meyer lemons.
Perfectly chilled and poured over a freshly-cut lemon slice, with a sprig of spearmint from her garden as garnish, it was the most heavenly lemonade you could imagine.
It was an experience.
Her friends and family loved it, too. There was nothing better on a hot summer day than a cold glass of Veronica’s lemonade.
So the day came when Veronica was ready to begin selling her delicious lemonade.
She didn’t have experience selling anything, so she figured she’d start simply: with a lemonade stand in her neighborhood park, where lots of folks gathered.
She bought all the necessary supplies:
A glass dispenser for her lemonade, some mason jar mugs, napkins, and a money basket. She got a folding table from her garage, and a patio umbrella from her back garden for shade.
She was ready to set up her little outdoor stand and sell her lemonade.
But before she did that, she got to thinking:
“Maybe this is all a little too unsophisticated. I don’t want people to get the wrong idea about the quality of my lemonade, or how much love I put into it. I want to start strong. I want to do this right from the beginning. Who knows how big this could get?”
She started rethinking a few things.
“I could get a fancy, high-end dispenser for the lemonade. Something that really looks grand.”
She looked at her other supplies.
“And I should probably get some nicer napkins, too. Some thicker, softer ones. With my name on them...
Oh! And instead of this plain folding table from my garage, a nice cozy booth. With a place for people to sit and sip their lemonade. And some nice pillows and decor.
Oh, oh! And a professionally designed and printed sign. Yes, much better than this one I drew on poster board!”
Veronica was getting more and more excited by the second.
And then she realized she hadn’t been thinking nearly big enough.
“I should probably start an Instagram account. Before I sell anything. To get the word out.”
She thought again.
“But first, I need a website, so I’ll have a place to send my Instagram followers to, so they can learn more about me and my lemonade. And I need an email list, too. I’ll have to figure out how that works.”
Veronica suddenly realized how much work would have to be done. How much more money she’d have to invest before she’d have her first customer. And it was all feeling like a bit too much.
As she slumped down in a chair, staring at the dispenser of lemonade on her dining table next to the napkins and the cups and the money basket, she thought:
“I bet I’d be lousy at actually selling my lemonade. What would I even say to people? Would they think I’m silly, or foolish, or pushy? Maybe I should take a course or 2 on selling lemonade before I embarrass myself.”
And with so many more things to do, and so many new ideas that would take time and energy and planning and doing, Veronica suddenly felt overwhelmed and underqualified. Despite being ready just moments before to start selling her lemonade to her friends and neighbors in the neighborhood park, she now realized she wasn’t ready at all.
She wasn’t sure if she would be for quite awhile.
And because that became her story, she never was.
Perfection is the enemy of progress.
Like our fictional Veronica, many coaches get lost in a desire for perfection.
Before they’ve even tested their ability to get even one paying client, they’re looking for ways to make their system bigger, better, prettier, shinier. They don’t start posting on social media because they don’t yet have a website to point their followers to. They can’t publish their website because their big, complicated email funnel doesn’t exist yet, and what a chore that feels like. They decide that’s not even doable until they’ve determined the ultimate freebie to give away as a lead magnet, and that’s a whole other beast to contend with.
It all begins to feel exhausting and overwhelming.
What these coaches don’t realize, though, is that none of these big to-do’s even matter yet—because none of them are necessary for finding their first paying clients.
But here’s the more surprising insight:
This pursuit of perfection over progress is really a sneaky form of self-sabotage.
It’s a way to stay stuck in not doing—so that the potential disappointment of failure never has to be realized. Not doing allows the dream to live on forever. Not doing is safe.
But of course it’s not really safe, because never knowing what we could’ve been—had we just been brave enough to show up—is one of the worst feelings in the world.
The truth is, I’ve been Veronica more than a few times in my own entrepreneurial journey.
If this is resonating with you, know that it’s not a character flaw, and it’s not a sign of anything.
It’s just our ego trying to keep us in our comfort zone, in status quo, where it’s safe.
There is a solution to this, though.
Massive Imperfect Action.
Massive imperfect action is pushing through the mind chatter and what if scenarios keeping us paralyzed with details and overwhelm, and just doing.
It’s calling something good enough when it really is good enough for now, even when it’s not polished or perfect. It’s making forward movement in the spirit of maintaining momentum and simply starting.
When we realize that the first draft of anything isn’t perfect, and that great things are always built over time, it helps us to do what we need to do now. We can always refine it and build upon it as we go, making it better and smoother and closer to everything we want it to be.
If you’ve been feeling stuck at the starting line with your coaching business, sitting on a clear vision of your ideal client and how you can help them achieve something meaningful, but never taking that first real step, know that you’re not alone—but also that there’s no need to add complexity or adornment to your offering in order to start offering it… not just yet, at least.
Don’t let another month, or another year, or another decade go by without doing that thing your heart wants to do.
Take massive imperfect action now. Remove everything from your plate for now except what absolutely must be done in order to make progress, and do that.
Even if it’s scary or uncomfortable. Especially then.
And watch the miracles begin to unfold.