Keeping up (just good enough) appearances

I work out of my home, so I spend a lot of time noticing its cleanliness. But I don’t have a lot of time to spend cleaning, especially because when I’m at home, I’m usually working. So I have mastered the art of keeping everything just clean enough.

CleaningIf you walked into my home/office, you would think it was clean. In fact, people comment all the time about how clean it appears to be. But they don’t know my secret – that every morning I spend 5 minutes tidying up, making the bed, putting dishes in the dishwasher, throwing random clothes in the hamper. Tossing everything that doesn’t have a home into my closet and shutting the door. They don’t know that I leave dust rags in various rooms throughout the day, and as I’m on conference calls, I dust. Or fold the laundry. They don’t realize that after I wash my face, the washcloth does double-duty – it’s used to wipe down the bathroom sink and fixtures before going in the laundry.

My house isn’t always clean but it’s clean enough.

Of course there are times when my home/office gets a full-on assault with cleaning products, vacuum cleaners and mops. But those days are much rarer, and usually happen right before a party or a family visit.

I think that there is a lesson that can be applied to start-ups.

As a start-up, there are usually very scarce resources available, so it’s difficult to do things perfectly all the time. But at any given moment, a customer might be using your site for the first time. Or a potential investor might be checking out what you’re up to. Most of those people won’t dig too deep. They will just be giving your site a cursory glance, checking it out to see if it might be helpful or not. So although behind the scenes you may know that everything is kind of a mess, it’s important to keep up appearances.

What does this mean, practically? Nothing too difficult. Make sure that your Website has a professional design. Make sure that the words on your site are spelled right (mostly) and that they are grammatically correct (or at least understandable). Make sure all your links work. If something isn’t working, or looks a little shoddy, take it down.

If your business involves some kind of technology, make sure that it works. You can launch without all its future features, and still not quite working exactly like you want it to, but make sure that it works, and will not crash or be buggy if someone actually attempts to use it.

The goal, of course, is to get people who visited your site or used your technology to say, at first glance, that it looks good. They may lift up the rug and find out that what you are showing them isn’t complete, that it’s not as good as it looked at first, but you do not want to turn them off without them taking that closer look.

And honestly, most people never take the time to lift up the rugs.

There will be time to perfect things, to make sure that everything is exactly, precisely working. But until then, make sure that your appearance is good enough.

Photo by givepeasachance

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