Just Do One Thing Really, Really Well

One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is talking with other entrepreneurs.  I love the bond that fellow entrepreneurs have with each other.  That bond exists even the first time you meet a fellow entrepreneur.  The commonality of knowing how hard the job is, how much risk and personal sacrifice it takes, how much stress you have to endure…all of that creates this bond.

Another thing that is great about talking with entrepreneurs is they have a similar mindset, but also a fresh set of eyes on your product.  They don’t have the tunnel vision a founder gets because (s)he thinks about their product 24/7.  And probably the most common advice that I have for other entrepreneurs is that I feel

..they are trying to do too many things with their product.  

They should just do one thing and do it really, really well. 

Better than any other product in the world.  But only pick one thing.


There are several reasons for this advice.

  1. Consumers are overwhelmed with products right now.  They want simplification.  A consumer should be able to figure out your product’s core within 5 seconds.
  2. Start-ups can’t optimize more than one product at a time
  3. Finally, and probably most importantly, because all you need to do to have a huge breakout is one thing really well

For proof of point #3, look at the breakout products recently: Instagram, Pinterest, Foursquare, Twitter, Viddy.  All of them do just one thing and do it really well and all of them are runaway successes.

Defining One Product:

When I offer this suggestion to entrepreneurs, they often respond with, “but it is one product.  You can do this..or this.”  Hmmm, kill the “or this” part and you got it.

I think this is best explained with an example.  Pinterest has one product – find great stuff on the web and create a pin board of it.  When people explain Pinterest, they say “an online pin board.”  Simple.  Clean.  And Powerful.  Now imagine Pinterest if they also had a shopping experience.  With a shopping cart and a way to browse product by categories.  Now try explaining their product.  The answer is much more confusing.  So when you explain the new Pinterest to someone, a large chunk of people will hear the shopping part.  And now Pinterest is competing with Amazon.  Not the place to be.

Easy, right?

Seems simple…so why is this so hard to do?  Because entrepreneurs are dreamers.  We dream of a better world and we want that world yesterday.  Our favorite phrase is, “imagine a world in which…”  There is not doubt that that world would be better.  However, another old saying is also true, “you can’t run before you walk.”  It is the same things with products.  I know that a lesser product feels incomplete to the entrepreneur.  But that is what you have to do.  The good news about doing less is that consumers will thank you and investors will reward you.  Seems crazy, but it’s true.

Published by v1again

I try very hard to be a great father, husband and entrepreneur. Founded and sold 3 companies. Winware.ai is my 4th startup.

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