Keep it simple. It’s a principle we have always followed with the team and shared with our clients.
When leading a project, launching a business or building a product, it’s actually very easy to NOT keep it simple. There are many ways to fall into the trap of overthinking and over engineering. A typical example is to start with a 40-page document full of product specifications…
At Sparkmate, we love to keep things simple and focus on what brings value now. Too often we have seen crazy determined entrepreneurs who fail because they were not ready to cut some features, prioritize and find a starting point, calm down and accept the frustration of the early steps… On the one hand, they think that big is bold. On the other hand, they trust that complicated is smart.
On the contrary, here we believe that done is better than perfect and I will explain why.
Keep it simple doesn’t mean avoiding complexity
Yes, your project is complex. It is unique, special, full of challenges and technicalities. However, it’s not any less complex to build one restaurant than it is to build a chain of restaurants or even an app like TheFork.
Embrace complexity, uncertainty, ambiguity and contradictions but don’t bring chaos into your product. It’s easy to think that because the product environment is complex, the product should be complicated. Here are 2 rules I recommend keeping in mind:
- Complexity is in the process, not the action. It’s normal to select hypotheses, make decisions, establish priorities; you can still keep things simple at a given moment while embracing complexity in the journey.
- Complication is not complexity. The former can potentially be mastered with time and expertise, the latter is irreducible and uncontrollable. That's why a complicated solution might not be the best answer to a complex problem.
There is a common pattern we observe with the clients we have helped and the entrepreneurs around us - they think their problem is the product. Actually, the problem is generally the absence of product, not the lack of features in the product.
That’s a massive trap for entrepreneurs and engineers: a too-complicated plan at the beginning, overly complicated tech choices and solutions, too many features and details to take into account…
Embrace complexity to make the best bets, but keep the solutions simple. You’re better off with a simple version of your product than nothing at all.
Keep it simple, and just build it
If you keep it simple, you can:
- Focus on what matters most
- Deliver faster
- Have something real to show and share
- Gather valuable feedbacks (not just talk about hypotheses and ideas but genuine feedback based on actual experiments)
- Leave room for improvement
- Learn in the field (from success or failure, from the people,...)
I cannot make a complete list of all the benefits, but you get the logic behind it. The virtuous circle starts when you have something concrete to show, share or sell.
So do less but do it great. You don’t need the perfect product in 1 year, you need a great one now. And if you have unsatisfied users because it’s not enough, that’s already a huge success. It’s a good sign that people appreciate what you are building and feel the need for it.
My brother-in-law told me that experienced cooks often teach young cooks to “keep it simple, it might just be tastier”. I guess product development is pretty much the same... The first step is to find a way to deliver something simple but excellent, and then there is a real chance that people will understand it, use it and enjoy it!