Learn To Say “No” to Good Ideas
One of my favorite philosophies of Steve Jobs is about how important it is to focus and learn to say “no” to good ideas.
SBI! is a pretty big product, even though we try to keep it as simple as possible. It’s big and complex because we’re not doing a one-trick widget here.
SBI! is about enabling people to reproducibly build profitable online businesses. That’s immense. If we don’t say “no” to a ton of stuff, it would be totally non-usable.
To get back to Jobs, his vision was that the Mac was about usability. The iPod was about music. The iPad was about functionality that neither an iPod or a laptop do well enough. The iTunes Store was about a music-downloading experience that was so strong that you don’t mind paying 99 cents for a song.
What is SBI! about?…
Success. At unprecedented rates. In as few steps as possible.
For those with BAM (Brain, Attitude, Motivation), because no one will ever make it “Get Rich Quick” easy.
Reproducible (i.e., anyone with BAM can win – it’s “e-business for the rest of us”).
Long-term success, not short-term hits that fade.
That means Theme-Based Content Sites (“TBCS”). They are the core of our vision.
Now let’s look at an example where staying focused on the core made it easier to say “no” to a good idea…
When blogging came out, the first thought was, “do we make the pages commentable?”
The fundamental difference between TBCS and blogs is “evergreen book” vs. “stack of newspaper clippings”…
You don’t “read blogs.” You check the latest post and leave (Google 101).
You don’t comment on evergreen books. You find them through search. If it’s good, you explore. You become a fan, originally through a zine, but now via third party options that add to your base of visitors who become loyal repeats.
We also considered wikis. While this was closer to the book metaphor, it was too complex to manage (people editing each others’ entries).
Commenting-on-TBCS was put on hold as we watched how blogging would evolve.
It became clear that blogging exploded because of RSS, not because of interactivity. Blogging, where you post “your latest,” would never have been huge if RSS did not make it easy for folks to follow “your latest.”
Why? Because posts are pushed to your followers via RSS, the perfect technology for blogs. For the first time, there was no need to bookmark and have to remember to check out a site. (In fact, some programs had reached the market to make it easy for you to “remember” to do this with sites — clearly, a market need was there.)
So RSS was the key to blogging’s growth, not interactivity. Yes, interactivity is certainly part of blogging and yes…
There are some active, animated, interactive blogs with a community. They are the exception that proves the rule. They are either provocative, or Top 0.1% brilliant, etc.
Even in active blogs, most people don’t comment. The vast majority never comment (studies have quoted some amazing stats to this effect). And I don’t know about you, but I read the posts, not the comments. It’s the author’s brain I want, not the rest (with some exceptions).
So… we did not see this commenting idea as core to SBI!. However, we did see RSS as core. We already knew, from pre-blog days, that people wanted something better than bookmarks.
And so… RSS/Blog It! was born. This enabled SBI! sites to spread via RSS. Some folks like to subscribe via e-zine. Others prefer RSS. (And now, others prefer Twitter or Facebook.)
Take-away lesson? Don’t develop anything that is not about the core of your business. Instead, eliminate anything that is not core to your vision.
All the best,