Simplicity Versus Complexity

Would you say that Amazon is a simple or complex business? How about Starbucks? I would say that they’re both simple businesses that have used complex systems to scale. And scale they have, but all the while sticking with simple core business models. According to its founder, Jeff Bezos, Amazon began and continues as a business obsessed with providing customers with variety, low prices, and speedy delivery. Starbucks Chairman emeritus, Howard Schultz, says that the their business is serving people coffee and not coffee to people. Both of these models are super simple and keep the customer at the center of everything they do.

If you’re just starting out or have yet to reach $2M+ per year then I would ask you if you really need any complexity. Yes, Amazon and Starbucks need complexity at their level, but they also need the simplicity of their business models to continue to dominate their respective markets. You should consider keeping things simple at this point. You need a great product/solution. You need to get attention to make sales. You need to deliver your product/solution. That’s it. And the fewer applications or processes you add to those things the better.

Product/Solution: The simpler the product/solution the better. Does it solve your customer’s problem? If so, then that’s all you need at this point. Less is more as we say in our office. Down the road you can add things to it maybe or enhance things about it. Does it solve your customer’s problem? Yes? Great! Anything else is a distraction at this point. Trust me. Move on.

Sales: How do you get attention and ultimately make sales? Do you use organic or paid methods? Be careful here. There are so many applications/platforms out there that promise you the world and tell you that they make it simple. They say that they’re all you need to manage this or that. Be careful. We’ve been down this rabbit hole so many times. What they often fail to tell you is that getting attention and making sales does not require an application or platform. And it’s quite simple. Don’t over complicate it by adding people, processes, apps, or platforms that aren’t required yet.

Delivery: Are your customers receiving what you promised them. If so, then your delivery is working. You can add a red bow later. Jeff Bezos initially loaded his car with packages to make sure orders made it to the post office. Does he do this today? Of course not, but it was necessary then and it just worked. Just deliver your product in the most basic way. If it works, then nothing else is required right now.

Again, if you’re still under $2M per year then don’t add anything to your business unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you do then you’re potentially adding distractions and cutting into your bottom line. Cashflow is the reason for keeping things simple in the end. Remember what we were all taught growing up, “A straight line is the shortest distance between two points.” There’s a lot of wisdom in this applicable to business. Cashflow is the point of destination for you.

If you find yourself having trouble saying no to new apps, platforms, or processes, then just say, “Later.” You can always try something later. Now, you need simplicity…not complexity to arrive at cashflow.

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