in from service to product, personal development, products / boostrapping

The more you have, the more you have to…

I see it all the time. Overkill. Complexity. Waste. Owning too much stuff. Adding things without double checking if they are really needed. Putting the most difficult and complex systems in place to solve easy things. Onboarding everyone and everything, without questioning if they will add value to your business or project. Working on the extras and nice to haves before nailing the basics.

This is so wrong.

Every time you add something to your business, project or startup, you have one more thing to manage, to maintain, to take care of, to handle, to pay and to carry in your bag of things. This can go from either introducing a fancy new technology like Node.js (do you really need this? why? what value does it add to your project?) to introducing a new company policy for using the office printer (is that really what you want everyone to read and judge? who will maintain it? isn’t it more easy to just talk to that one person using the office printer for private stuff?) to buying a big house with a swimming pool, way too much rooms and a huge garden (who will clean and maintain all that? you? think twice!).

There is a hidden (and often quite big) cost in owning and adding stuff. You are less flexible, you have to spent time in managing and maintaining your stuff, you have less freedom and more constraints.The more you have, the more you have to. I know people who are slave of their stuff. The leaner you are, the more easy it is to change direction and choose what you want to do.

I run my business on a 4y old Macbook and an internet connection. That’s it. I even don’t have an official “desk” or so, I work from anywhere. My Macbook could even crash or get stolen, I can continue the next day, as everything is in the cloud: Google Drive, Gmail, Flickr and so on.

Here is what typically increases mass:

  • company policies
  • long term plannings
  • your own in house set of servers
  • long term contracts
  • suits and ties
  • policies
  • extra technology layers
  • meetings
  • CC-ing everyone in your emails
  • big teams and extra staff
  • more and complex code
  • more features
  • deviations from standard patterns
  • big, long and slow feedback cycles or communication moments

And this typically reduces mass and will free you from many overhead:

  • small teams
  • cloud software/backups/solutions
  • less code
  • standard code and patterns
  • less technology stacks (and so less point of failures)
  • simplicity
  • open communication, radical honesty
  • short and very regular interaction moments and communication

Before adding stuff, think twice.

Write a Comment


  1. Very true. It’s no point complicating life, what really matters is doing something great. As long as you could deliver, you are perfectly alright, I full agree with you Pieter. There are so many ways to be cost-effective and simple without compromising the quality of your output.