The dirty secret about keeping things simple is how freakin’ hard it is to actually pull off. My experience is that every successful business idea or concept has at its core, the elegance of simplicity. In fact, every time I read, see, or hear about a really and truly compelling idea my reaction is mostly along the lines of: “duh, why didn’t I think of that!?!”.
The elevator pitch doesn’t give enough credit to the power of a good sound-bite. Try the elevator pitch on your grandma. If she gets it – and can repeat it back to you capturing the essence of your idea – you’ve got a winner. Unless of course its too simple..
Einstein said: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”.
The hard part of course is figuring out the most simple but compelling thing you can do, and then how to do it well. If it takes to long to explain, or if it needs a spreadsheet with multiple color codes you might have a simplicity deficit problem. Jim Collins wrote about the concept in Good to Great. He said that one of the keys to great companies was that they figured out their “hedgehog concept”. A concept comprised of the intersection of 3 core things: 1) What are you passionate about; 2) What drives your economic engine; and 3) what can you be the best in the world at.
My favorite examples of simplicity at its best:
Eddy Merck said he got to be the best cyclist in the world by “riding lots”.
Google makes nearly $2B per month in revenue by serving an advertisement based upon the word or phrase you just typed in the search box.
Starbucks sells hot and cold drinks that get you wired – and are addictive – and legal – in all 50 states.
Pfizer made billions from a little blue pill that makes your…