Perfection often is a laudable (if unattainable) goal. After all, as Robert Browning wrote, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”
There’s another saying, however (usually attributed to Voltaire, though Italian sources had come up with a similar wording earlier), that applies especially to proposal work: The perfect is the enemy of the good.
In the proposal world, we all strive for the “perfect” proposal—the one that convinces the customer to buy our product or service instead of someone else’s. And that’s a good thing: That goal helps us maintain our focus, our drive, in trying to produce the best possible proposal so that we achieve the best possible outcome. We even have processes (such as color reviews) specifically designed to get us closer to that state of perfection.
It’s important to acknowledge, however, that among all of the resources involved in proposal work—such as people, information, tools, processes, and money—the one that is least fungible is TIME. That’s because we have deadlines: specific dates/times by which we need to submit our proposals. Those deadlines are outside our control, which means the amount of time available for us to do our work is strictly limited.
What that means, ultimately, is that regardless of whether a proposal is “perfect,” at some point we have to consider it FINISHED. It may not be “perfect,” but in order to submit on time, we have to get to “good enough.” More important, we have to get to “done.”
So, as you labor over your proposals, remember that eventually you’ll have to stop writing and submit the document to the customer. So I offer you this mantra to keep in mind: It ain’t perfect, but it’s done.
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