BY Jason FRied
Jason Fried is co-founder of 37signals,
a Chicago-based software company.
Jason says, “Less is more.”
Why more is not necessarily
better. even when you’re
talking about profits
When it comes to making decisions, I’m not what you’d call
a numbers guy. Statistics rarely drive me. Feelings, intuition,
and gut instinct do.
Of course, a hard look at the numbers can influence my
decisions, but that’s just one ingredient in a big, boiling pot of
inputs. I know plenty of entrepreneurs who are numbers first.
They tend to be highly analytical people, and before they pull
the trigger, all the numbers have to line up just right.
There’s nothing wrong with that. And I’d never suggest
that all business owners should be like me. The owner of a
company with supertight margins—say, a restaurant, retailer,
or producer of commodity goods—would be a fool not
to keep a close eye on the numbers. But when I make big
decisions, numbers are seldom, if ever, the tiebreaker.
I’ve found that when you make numbers your main focus,
you become a tad, well…obsessive. If you’re aiming for 27
instead of 26, why stop there? Why not go for 28? Or 29?
Or 29. 1? Where does it end? When the overriding goal is
improving your numbers, it becomes almost impossible to
determine when enough is enough. And I think it’s critical
to know when enough is enough.
This kind of thinking, of course, is anathema in much of
the business world. The CEO of any publicly traded company
would be scorned, maybe even fired, for expressing such
beliefs. Few venture capitalists would place a bet on an entre-
preneur willing to settle for less. Business leaders, we are told,
are charged with the task of maximizing—maximizing share-
holder value, maximizing employee productivity, maximizing
return on investment, maximizing profits.
Follow Jason Fried on Twitter: @jasonfried.
ILLUSTRATION BY LAURENT CILLUFFO
APRIL 2013 | INC. | 43