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Stop Being Perfect
How perfection can ruin your community launch
Over the last ten years, I have been part of, consulted on or was aware from the inside of about over 100 launches. I have seen all kinds of processes and ways to reach the end goal of a community launch. One thing that always became apparent. Those who focused on perfection - or fell into the perfection trap - before launch had the following outcomes:
They never got to perfect, and they have yet to launch.
They got to their version of "perfect" and launched (eventually), only to be disappointed the community did not get the traction they wanted
They launched, and things went as planned (this was an infrequent occurrence)
As I started working on the Community Leaders Institute's new community, I was reminded of this perfection trap. It's so tempting to have everything in place, all the content seeded, all the categories done, and everything just perfect. However, delaying for perfection, is something you need to learn to avoid.
As a matter of fact, instead of perfectionism, may I suggest you aim for excellence? This article in Psychology Today outlines it perfectly (pardon the word choice 😝). In essence, when you seek "Excellencism" you set high but attainable goals and work toward them firmly but flexibly.
Let me share my most excellent plan for launching a community. You only need some very essential things for a community to launch. Moving fast and competently to the first cohort of 10-25 trusted people is the best way towards a better version of your community. These people can help validate your ideas and guide you through unforeseen issues.
To help, here is my checklist of how to get past perfection and launch:
Get the basic community setup with brand colours and logo - a theme can continually evolve.
Set up the roles, permissions, or groups, but keep it simple. You can always add or modify as you get feedback.
Have no more than 3-5 categories and a couple of really meaty conversations in your forum to get going
Test the sign-up process to ensure no surprises.
Create a basic onboarding workflow.
Identify and invite your first cohort to a Zoom call (no more than 25), and give them an overview of your vision. Add them as users to the platform and ask for feedback. Spend a week gathering questions, suggestions and ideas. Incorporate them into the onboarding emails. Share back with them any feedback and changes.
Encourage this cohort to test, add content and engage with one another.
Invite a second larger cohort (about 100) and also do a Zoom call. Make it an open session following the similar process as above. Invite them to share feedback as well. Use tools like MS Clarity or HotJar to see how people use your community and identify potential issues.
Take action on all the feedback you can, and share what you have changed.
Launch the platform up to four weeks after the first call with your initial cohort.
That's the recipe I have used, and I plan to use it with the Community Leaders Insitute launch. It's rarely failed me.
Also, before I get emails asking, "How do you get that initial cohort?" It should not be challenging; they should be people you have spoken to, interacted with, or signed up to learn more about your community. If you can't find at least ten people interested in the idea of your community, the universe is telling you to pivot or rethink its purpose.
Other than that, aim for excellence and stop trying to be perfect.
Good luck, fellow community builders!
P.S. The new Community Leaders Institute community is launching in the next four weeks. Keep your eyes open to LinkedIn!
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