The case for clear, concise and simple

A quick reminder:

I have a two podcasts: The Nick Huber Show is about real estate and The Sweaty Startup is about small business and entrepreneurship.

Two of my most popular episodes:

Change your mind on something today (the power of an open mind) and Hire fast and fire faster (hiring and managing employees).

News flash:

Closed mouthes don’t get fed.

“Listen more and talk less” is one common piece of advice that I disagree with for most people.

When the door opens you better stand up and walk through it. If you already have status, talk less. If you’re trying to get it, speak up.

Unless of course you’re like a lot of people and just talking to talk, don’t know how to be quick and succinct, and have no idea what you’re saying. In that case do more listening.

In the mean time:

Learn how to explain complex things very quickly and learn how to tell long stories in as few words as possible. There will be time for elaboration when the questions come.

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The best business models are like the best emails.

They are simple. They are clear. They are concise.

The problem is that most people who try to start companies are very intelligent and get in their own way. They think to win they need to be exceptional and groundbreaking in every way.

I’m convinced 95% of being a successful entrepreneur is understanding how stupid most people are.

You have to dumb down everything to the basic levels to get regular idiots to relate to you. Regular people can work for you. Regular people need what you’re offering.

You aren’t solving problems for you. You’re solving problems for people who spend every second of free time playing world of warcraft, arguing politics on facebook, or watching Kardashians.

The average American reads at a 7th grade level. The average American has never read a 200+ page book.

Swallow the pride and give the people what they want – simple solutions to their simple problems.

Too many entrepreneurs waste time trying to find complex solutions to complex problems when people really need simple solutions to their simple problems.

Big words make you sound smart, but people don’t understand them. Complex arguments might entertain your dinner guests, but they won’t connect with the average person.

There has never been more competition for attention. 50 years ago there were a handful of TV programs that everybody watched. Today there are millions of dopamine inducing videos on TikTok that have to capture attention in the first .5 seconds or somebody will keep scrolling.

If your message isn’t simple, it will not hit its target.

I’m going to use this as an opportunity to talk about the power of a well-written email, because I think it is the #1 skill of any business owner. If you can’t get your point across in a 200 word email, you will not succeed.

Emails are timestamps and contracts in the business world.

Phone calls are great, and they should happen often, but promises by phone are about as good as promises sent by carrier pigeon. They don’t always get to their destination and confusion is the result.

We’ve all been there.

A job is done, it comes time to get paid, and shit goes sideways. The customer thought you were going to do x and y and you only did x.

“This over here wasn’t handled.”

“But it wasn’t my job. That wasn’t in my description.”

“But we had a conversation on the phone about it.”

“No we didn’t.”

And it turns into a big disagreement that ends in a big expensive concession. A customer takes advantage of you again. Or you messed up. Nobody can ever be sure because nobody remembers the exact words in the phone call.

I started doing one simple trick that has saved me countless headaches and hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.

At the end of every important meeting where somebody tells you they’re going to do something or you tell somebody to do something, I follow it up with an email.

An example:


Just following up on our conversation for our records.

You said your scope included the following for the $5,000 total job cost proposal:

  1. Install all three signs at our three locations
  2. Wire the signs and make sure electrical is done without any additional expense
  3. That all three signs would be backlit Blue with white text
  4. That the signs are 6’ by 4’ in size
  5. And that you would be done with the job by April 17th.
  6. The last $3,000 of the payment will be held until the job is completed and inspected by my team.

Please respond to this email confirming this and thank you again! Look forward to working with you!


This email laid out all of the expectations in text. I can look back on this email. There will be no confusion if he misses the timelines or wants more money or said the electrical work wasn’t his job.

I have sent these emails my entire career and it has saved me from BIG problems. Our earthwork contractor on one of our development projects tried to stick us with a $50,000 add-on for gravel at one of our jobs. I forwarded him the email and said – look it is included right here.

A number of other times the person, within 10 minutes of getting off the phone, called me back because my notes didn’t match what they understood. Nick I didn’t say I would do the electrical work we need to discuss that.

It saves you TONS of headache in the future. You should do this with every single important conversation you have where a vendor, employee or customer lays out expectations with you that are important with money on the line.

We have a saying in my company:

If it isn’t in writing, it didn’t happen. Put everything important in writing or it is your fault when somebody does a shit job!

A few other important rules:

Keep your emails simple. If they are more than 200 words, send two emails.

Use bullet points, bold words, and spaces. This makes it easier to read.

Before you send an important email, read it again and REMOVE every single word or sentence that isn’t absolutely 100% necessary. Shorter is better than explaining every nuance. People do not read long emails. Do not write them.

Use exclamation points. We live in a sensitive world. Your employees or partners or customers might think you are being a dick by being direct and giving short orders with periods. Put exclamation points and they’ll know you are happy!


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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.