At what point do you think someone is ready to enter their first bodybuilding show, given that the intent is to learn and as a mechanism to strive for personal best? I've been training for about 2 years now. I'm not huge, but I've gained a fair amount of lean muscle. I know that I'm far from winning a show, but I'm intrigued by the idea of trying it for the experience. I certainly don't intend to win, but I want to do one to see how competitive I can be.
I have a friend who has done a few and he tells me not to worry about size (for now), that it's more about symmetry. I'm considering a show in October.
If you want to be competitive, you should look to build size so that when you are lean, you will be bigger (obviously). Yes, symmetry is important, but symmetry doesn't mean much if you're extremely small and underdeveloped.
Also, in terms of simply achieving your best physique, it might be better to work towards building your body rather than trying to cut fat/diet prior to doing that.