The lean startup is all the rage because it purportedly “transforming how new products are built and launched”. In many ways, it makes sense for startups looking for ways to connect with customers in a fast-moving, fickle and competitive marketplace.
But I think there is too much faith or enthusiasm about the lean philosophy, and the idea that a steady series of improvements or mini-pivots is the formula for success.
Instead, a better and more realistic approach is the simple startup.
These are startups that provide a user-friendly, intuitive and valuable product that clicks with users because it performs elegantly and efficiently.
These products can be feature-rich and multi-faceted but they are designed in a way that much of the complexity has been eliminated or hidden behind a simple user interface.
When someone uses a simple startup’s products, it performs effectively, easily and flows in a way that people don’t have to think too much. If people do run into problems or obstacles, the solutions are obvious and easily navigated around.
In a recent blog post, Neil Patel listed simple products as one of the things he wished he had known before starting his first company. He makes a great point that most people abandon complicated products “even if they do solve great problems”.
Truth be told, most people don’t have the time or patience to use products that aren’t simple. We live in an instant gratification world, which means a complicated product comes across as too much work.
For startups, developing something that isn’t simple is a recipe for disaster.
Simple doesn’t mean no-frills or dumbed down that just meets basic needs. It is about creating a product that does the job – big or small – by appearing to be simple in how it works, looks and feels. People think it’s simple even if it’s complicated, which is a huge challenge that most companies fail to tackle.
What side of the fence do you sit on: fence vs. lean? And, if like me, you’re an advocate of simple, what are the attributes that makes a product simple?