As I advise entrepreneurs and business owners, I am consistently going back to the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Simplicity reigns supreme in starting a business, communicating your value to potential customers and even exiting your business.
I remember first learning about this principle in the 6th grade. In our Music class (yes, they had those back then), we had to create a fictional product and create and act out a commercial for it, complete with a commercial jingle.
My fictional product was “Instant Palm Grow,” a magical seed that you could plant and within minutes, a beach, complete with palm trees, popped up at your feet. There’s probably a nice target market for that, but when it came to the commercial and jingle, I was all over the place with complicated ideas that I couldn’t explain very well, let alone execute. Let’s just say that in my grand vision and desire to do everything, I was left with something that was a hot mess.
However, one of my classmates, Karen Kiss (irony of the name noted), came up with something so simple that I remember it to this day (let’s be honest, her parents probably came up with it, but it was genius, nevertheless). The product was called “The Candy Network” and it was a payment card that you could use in vending machines to buy snacks without cash (very prescient for 1985, no?).
Here was her jingle (as I recall it):
You can do it, you can do it, you can do it too Just like your mommy and your daddy do Buy that stuff without no cash Get the card and have a blast So, be a sport and not a jerk Subscribe to the Candy…Network
The idea was simple, the jingle was simple and I still remember the damn thing (in fact, it often pops into my head to this day). What a contrast this simple idea simply communicated is to the myriad business ideas that I get pitched consistently that I couldn’t explain back even if money was on the line.
It is tempting to overcomplicate a product, add features, add services and expand your offering to be all things to all people, but the most successful business ideas tend to be those that are the most simple.
As you evaluate products, marketing strategies and more, always ask yourself whether you are overcomplicating what is needed to provide value to your customer. Keep it simple – it’s smart.
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is currently an on-air contributor for the national cable television station CNBC, the pre-eminent name in business news, and the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country. Carol multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics.
Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011 &2012) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth