(The following is an edited excerpt from Pat Sullivan’s new ebook, “10 Keys To Entrepreneurial Success From a Two-Time Entrepreneur Of The Year.”)

Details are usually the difference between success and failure. There are a lot of details in life I really don’t care that much about. Just give me the overview. But when it comes to my product, my messaging, my positioning, how we sell and market etc., I obsess over nearly every detail. I love it! I want everything I have some control over to not just be good. I want it to be GREAT!

Pat Sullivan wins Science AwardI have always been that way. In eighth grade I did a science project that won the top prize in the Illinois State competition. I figured out how to study what amino acids were destroyed when you made oats into Cheerios, rice into Rice Krispies and corn into Corn Flakes. I had my own lab in the basement. I also had chemicals that my mom feared would blow up the house (and some of them could have). I was obsessed with the idea. I got help from experts and I learned everything I could. When the judges quizzed me there was nothing I could not answer. Maybe this is a quality that just comes naturally to me, but it’s definitely learnable and a quality every entrepreneur needs to develop.

Details make the difference between good and great. ACT! was a great product. Today, 27 years later, it’s still a great product and still the best selling contact manager. The thing that made it great were the details. I recently was asked “what was the essence of ACT!?” I answered, “Anticipation.” ACT! had a way of anticipating exactly what you either wanted to do next or ought to do next. It was uncanny. People still rave to me about how ACT! changed their business lives. It was all because my co-founder, Mike Muhney and I totally obsessed over every single detail. We would argue about little things that probably didn’t really matter, but out of that came a product that created a new category of software. It just worked the way it ought to.

Making Email “Insanely” Collaborative

I often find myself simply staring at a screen in Contatta and asking myself, “what could be better?” What could we take out to make it simpler? Is everything I can do from here obvious? How can we make something one click instead of two? How can Contatta accurately and automatically fill in a field? What would someone want to do from here? After here? And I have attracted people who work with me who do the same thing. We HAVE to have people who don’t do this so we can actually get something done! We totally scrapped one version and started over after a year of work. Then we got right to the finish line when someone figured out how to make things about 50% simpler. So we took an extra few weeks to do it right the first time. We have done dozens of hard technical things to make Contatta wicked fast. Speed is a feature! Most web apps are painfully slow, constantly refreshing the whole browser. Unacceptable. Details like speed totally matter!

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when enough is enough. Finished is better than perfect, but you should obsess over every detail you can to make it just right. Steve Jobs had it right. “Insanely Great” is the goal.

Download your copy of “10 Keys To Entrepreneurial Success From a Two-Time Entrepreneur Of The Year.”