By Stephen Wunker
Years ago, I created one of the first services to use your cell phone to find special offers in a neighborhood. The idea seemed so compelling, and eventually it was. Several companies, including Facebook and foursquare, are doing this now. But at the time it asked people to change engrained
habits too much. Later, I helped build out one of Africa’s leading cell phone networks, Celtel.
That was pretty simple—it’s a phone, and you take it with you. The business did crazily well. If you’re asking customers to change behaviors, do it step by step.
Simplicity also rules inside corporations. Sometimes companies stew about what new ventures they should prioritize, and because they haven’t set guidelines, they want to look at full-fledged business
plans before they decide what they like. This process wastes time, and rejected plans get people disillusioned. Set some basic priorities. For instance, if you’re in the hotel business, you’re not going to buy a steel mill, but you might consider brokering stays in private homes.
Keep your to-do list short. A new venture has a million things to do. If you try to do them all at once, you’ll accomplish nothing. Venture capitalists push their companies to focus on a couple key issues at a time. Small companies don’t necessarily move faster than big companies, but they benefit from
having fewer things to do at once.