Not all companies are simple. Not all companies have the luxury to be simple. Every business goes through a life cycle from birth to its unfortunate death. The development of the business can be imagined similarly to the growth of a person. Early life consists of learning and often relying on those around you for help. Early life transitions to becoming a mostly self-reliant teenager who still often makes mistakes but ideally learns from those mistakes and pushes forward. The growth between the business’s teenage years and its peak middle-aged maturity is dramatic and rapid. Then the businesses eventually enters its decline before its eventual collapse.
Life is simplest in its early stages when we are young and have fewer complications.
But “small businesses”, the young businesses who have the luxury to offer simple services and run a simple organization often try to act more mature than they are. They look to their elders and say “if I want to be successful, then I need to act like the old and the wise.” This doesn’t make sense, the same way it doesn’t make sense for an 18-year-old to run their life like they have 4 children and a mortgage.
It’s easy to lose sight of the value of simplicity. Our team has developed a set of principles for companies that can and should be easy to follow:
- Stay simple for as long as you can. As business goes on, more employees are hired, services are created, and more locations are opened. Naturally, the business becomes more complicated. Value and take advantage of the simplicity that you have now.
- Understand the problems. Deeply understand your current problems to avoid complicated solutions.
- Apply Occam’s razor. Shave away everything, except for exactly what you need. Nothing more. Nothing less.
- Give trust and power away. Reduce processes and complications by just trusting the people you have around you.
- The obvious answer is usually right. The simple answer to the problem is usually the obvious and shortest one.
- Be a team. Try to stay a tight-knit, trusting team who is dedicated to producing the best products possible for as long as you possibly can before unnecessary job titles and internal hierarchies begin to take over.
- Focus on what will always work. Chasing the current trend is complicated. Focus on what worked 20, works now, and will still work in 20 years.
- Depth over breadth. Focus on what your team is good at. Adding breadth adds complication, coordination, and more people.
- Expand only when it really hurts. Stay small for as long as you can.
- Practice patience. Think about your business in terms of decades instead of months.
- Communicate what needs to be communicated. Strike a balance between trust and communicating. Relay everything thoroughly and clearly. Avoid wasting time communicating what does not need to be shared.
- Us over them. Stick your head in the sand and worry about you, your team, and your customers. What “they” are doing doesn’t matter.
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