275: Keep it simple

Keep it simple.

If you name any time of business, I will show you somebody has made a million dollars or more. Quite possibly right in your area. It’s not about the idea, or creating something drastically new, it’s about the execution. Whenever I login to Twitter, look at Tech Crunch, or even go and judge a pitch competition here at UGA in Athens, I notice how overly complicated most entrepreneurs make things. 

Simplicity wins every time, execution is what matters. Your ability to make the micro decisions all day, every day, is what will set you apart. Managing people, sales, how you treat people, what you say, how you respond, all these little decisions will impact your business and your bottom line. Your ability to manage those small decisions is what will drive your success, not the five key features that you’re trying to differentiate among businesses.

I get mad at the pitch competitions because the first question from the panel that I’m stuck on is always how do you expect to differentiate? What makes you different, what makes you better? And every entrepreneur spends all their time and energy thinking about how they might differentiate and what might make them better, so they end up with a business that’s different in 5 ways, overcomplicating things while trying to create the Uber of lawn care companies.

You don’t need any of that stuff. When we started our business in 2011, there were 20 companies doing exactly what we wanted to do, we didn’t have a new idea. We just looked at all the ways that those company did business, and we just built a Franken-business with pieces from all of them. Nothing was different, but we noticed that one company had a cool approach to signups, one included free boxes, and one offered last-minute reservations, and we incorporated components that they did really well. So many entrepreneurs find themselves in this big complexity trap where they get down such a rabbit hole trying to be different that they end up with a product that nobody wants. There are multiple successful companies doing the same thing in every area that aren’t different from one another, but they execute.

Why are we trying to get so complicated? Why are you trying to revolutionize five parts of a business? Why are you trying to change so much? You don’t need to be different, you don’t need to change all these things to make really good money. The competition isn’t that tough out there, if you can do some things better, you can operate really well, you do the little things right, and do that for a couple of years in virtually any business and you’re going do really, really well. The world talks so much about innovation and differentiation, idolizing Steve Jobs and Elon Musk types, but that’s not going to work for most people. You don’t need to have a moat, you don’t need a differentiator, you need to simplify and execute.

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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.