What’s left to take away?

Sometimes the most difficult path forward is the easiest one. When starting a project or building a company, there are so many elements of the product + company that need to be addressed it’s often overwhelming. A logo, LLC, social media, pitch deck, distributors lined up, etc. The list expands as you complete items at the top of it. 

However, on the flip side, you can go minimalist. For example, until recently Clearbanc had a woefully under-designed, lackluster landing page, and the UI of their web application still leaves much to be desired. However, they’ve raised $120M and have $1B of demand for their funding model sitting in their backlog – and that’s because they’ve figured out a novel way to solve a core problem for their customers (who are other startups). 

If you’re meeting someone’s need in a unique way, they don’t care very much about your logo, or how nicely designed the ‘contact us’ form is on your website. It may seem obvious, but it’s something we all need to be reminded of every day. Because there are a lot of shiny objects out there, and it’s difficult to see past them to the finish line that’s staring you in the face. 

For me, I’m currently facing this issue with Bootstrapp. There are so many features I’d like to build, but the fact is: I’ve had a few hundred people sign up and have received positive feedback on the value it’s created for those users. So why distract myself with web illustrations and more features. What happens if I just double-down on the basics, turn 200 users into 200,000 and monetize the traffic?  And why do I, and so many others, avoid doing this?
(I have some theories for why I personally do this, which is that it’s partially fear-based, along with a dose of self-sabotage – certainly warranting another post on this subject alone.)

Point being, it’s easy to come up with distractions and detours. Focusing is the hard part. A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. I believe that often, the same principle should be applied to Founders.

Comments are closed.