In recent blog posts, we have been talking a lot about the importance of confidence for women in business, and linked to that is another common challenge – perfectionism. Striving for excellence is natural for many of us. We all want to do our best in all aspects of our lives. But when that desire becomes a relentless pursuit of perfectionism, the effect on our mental health, creativity, productivity and overall well-being can be severely detrimental. In short, perfectionism can be a real enemy of progress. In this blog, we’re going to consider the signs of perfectionism specifically among female entrepreneurs, exploring what can often become a serious struggle and offering guidance on how to overcome it.

5 signs of perfectionism

If you’re not sure whether you fall into this category or not, here are five of the most common signs of perfectionism:

1) Relentless Self-Criticism

Do you question whether you’re up to par? Perfectionism often manifests as relentless self-criticism. Female entrepreneurs, driven by a desire to succeed, may find themselves trapped in a cycle of never feeling good enough. They set impossibly high standards for themselves, leading to feelings of inadequacy and constant dissatisfaction.

2) Fear of Failure

We have talked about a fear of failure many times on this blog, and indeed, it’s a common thing among entrepreneurs. Perfectionists though, take it to a whole new level. Women afflicted by perfectionism may avoid taking risks or trying new ventures altogether, fearing that any form of failure will shatter their meticulously crafted image of success.

3) Overworking and Burnout

If you’re a perfectionist, you probably also find yourself with a tendency to overwork, perhaps believing that putting in more hours will increases your chances of outcomes. Female entrepreneurs in particular, trying to balance business and personal life, might find themselves constantly burning the candle at both ends. This can lead to exhaustion, decreased productivity, and eventually, burnout.

4) Difficulty Delegating

Many entrepreneurs, especially in the early days, often struggle with delegation, but for perfectionists, this challenge is amplified. One of the reasons for this is because women may find it difficult to trust others with their tasks and responsibilities, fearing that others won’t meet their impeccably high standards. Consequently, they become overwhelmed, taking on too much themselves and hindering their business’s growth potential.

5) Strained Relationships

The final sign of perfectionism is strained relationships, both personally and professionally. When we get too consumed by our quest for perfection, we might inadvertently neglect personal relationships, unable to switch off from work. Moreover in the workplace, having overly high expectations can create a tense atmosphere, making collaboration and teamwork challenging.

Overcoming Perfectionism

So if we recognise some of these signs of perfectionism in ourselves, what do we do about it? Being able to acknowledge and then address perfectionism is essential for female entrepreneurs to thrive. Here are some strategies to help you to shift your mindset into one focused more on growth than a pursuit of individual perfection:

  1. Practice Self-Compassion: Learn to treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes, and these failures do not define your worth.
  2. Set Realistic Goals: Establish achievable, realistic goals for yourself and your business. Break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps to prevent feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Learn to Delegate: Trust your team and delegate tasks effectively. Empower your employees to take ownership, fostering a sense of teamwork and shared responsibility.
  4. Embrace Failure: Understand that failure is a natural part of the entrepreneurial journey. Instead of fearing it, view it as an opportunity for growth and learning. Celebrate your efforts and progress, regardless of the outcome.
  5. Seek Support: Surround yourself with a supportive network of fellow entrepreneurs, mentors, or mental health professionals who can offer guidance and encouragement. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed.

In summary, perfectionism can silently erode the confidence and creativity of any entrepreneur, not just women. But by recognising the signs of perfectionism and taking proactive steps to overcome this mindset, women in business are able to unlock their full potential, build healthier relationships, and achieve the level of sustainable success that they are looking for. Put simply, when we embrace our imperfections, and accept that perfection neither exists not is attainable, it not only leads to personal growth but also paves the way for a more fulfilling journey as an entrepreneur.