Keep It Simple

I recently had an entrepreneurial wake-up call!!  We conducted a focus group with academic leaders and they didn’t quite “get” our business.  After some probing, it turns out that they saw a need for the business, but the message was just too complicated. We were trying to do too much, and to be too many things for too many people.  What a valuable reminder to Keep It Simple.  Luckily, we learned this lesson before we spent a penny on designing the product!

David Pogue, New York Times tech columnist, and my former neighbor, did a great and timeless TED Talk, Simplicity Sells, several years back:

Too often, in the market development work that O’Donnell Learn does for companies, this lesson comes very late—after a product is built, and a product that has too many bells and whistles for its average user.

Many companies expand into new verticals before they have really nailed the first one.  We worked with a company a few years back that had a strong line of business education products.  Before they built market share in that area, they had expanded into science, social science and allied health.  Guess what?  They never got enough bench strength in any one area to solidify their business model.

Business model! That is what keeping it simple is all about.  Use your simplicity to experiment with your business model.  Figure how you are going to make money and how this will be a long-term sustainable business.  Build some market share—and then you can get complicated.  Or can you? David Pogue would say no, “simplicity sells”.

In the next few posts, we are going to explore the notion of building a business.

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