In business you don't get points for style or difficulty

Consider this problem for a moment: 

Simplicity, Leonardo da Vinci

This is fun to do, but it really illustrates a good point about how we tend to over-complicate things. When you figure out the pattern in this picture, it is a "palm slap to the forehead" moment where you realize the utter simplicity of the pattern. A friend from down under calls these moments BFO’s (Blinding Flash of the Obvious).

I have seen so many business models; in particular, those put together by people with advanced degrees where I walk away thinking, “He is obviously really smart, I just can’t seem to grasp the business." With some very rare exceptions, the overly complex plans never do work out (unless it is in a movie where the more complex the plan is the better plan... think of any of the Ocean’s 11 plots).

But in business, simpler is almost always better. As Leonardo da Vinci once said, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." In business, you don’t get extra points for the difficulty of the plan, you don’t get points for style, you don’t get points for sophistication. You get points for doing the simple things well.
Are you giving your clients too many options?

Are you trying to cover too broad of a market?

A very successful investor one time said that unless you can illustrate what a company does using a crayon and sheet of paper, don’t ever invest in that company.

Try explaining your business on one sheet with a large marker… can’t do it? Then try again until you have simplified it.


  1. I did figure it out in about 2 minutes, but it was only because the pre-school kids are given the nod. If it wasn't for that, I might have spent hours calculating how the heck four 6's are 4, but four 2's are zero. Thank you = 2

  2. You beat me, I think it took me about 8 minutes to figure it out. Welcome=3

  3. Got it! Four minutes or so. The key is to know that preschool kids don't know anything about numbers except how to count, but they can see shapes.


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