A few weeks ago I was talking to an entrepreneur and he was showing me his web-based product. After 10 minutes of eagerly demoing functionality, I stopped and asked how much customization went into what he just showed me. Answer: 60 minutes. Not bad for B2B Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application. I then asked to show me the behind-the-scenes admin section of the product to see exactly what customization looked like — it was painful.
For a product with a free trial, there was no way their target audience was going to do a self-service signup and get value from the application without extensive hand holding and support. My recommendation was to simplify the product and have logical defaults such that with as little effort and friction as possible the end user could get value. It needs to be as close to zero configuration as possible.
Here are some common things startups should simplify:
- Customer sign-up and on-boarding process — use defaults that deliver 80% of the value
- Bonuses — don’t have any
- Commissions — make it so simple that the commission plan fits on a single page
- Vacation — give unlimited vacation time and make it a results only work environment
- Laptops — use MacBook Airs for everyone
- Employee reviews — do them quarterly and only ask no more than four questions
- Pricing — make it so easy it doesn’t require an Excel spreadsheet and publish the pricing online
Startups win by staying closest to the customer with the quickest decision making process possible. Startups should simplify everything.
What else? What are some other common things startups should simplify?