What is an entrepreneur? There are many answers to this question. However, the one that I like the most is, “An entrepreneur is anyone who provides value in exchange for monetary compensation, with or without them having to be there.” That last part is critical because if all you do is exchange value for money, an entrepreneur would be no different from a freelancer. The added statement of “with or without them having to be there” is what allows an entrepreneur to differentiate themselves from a freelancer.
To build a business where they can make money without being there, they have to be a builder of systems. These can be systems you set up through software, hiring, or a hybrid of the two. However, to be an entrepreneur, you must have systems in place to be successful.
Many entrepreneurs go wrong when building systems because they try to start with an overcomplicated system. They want it to be complex and full of jargon to try and prove that they are the next big thing.
Unfortunately, when start-ups start with this approach of starting with a complex system, they often see their systems falling apart. The most reliable systems, especially when starting, are the ones that are both simple and digestible enough to be understood and accepted by others. If your system is complicated from the start, no one will buy into your vision, nor will they know how to replicate it if you’re not there.
This theory is nicely summed up by the famous author and pediatrician John Gall. Gall wrote a book called Systemantics: How Systems Really Work and How They Fail. In the book, he states: “A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.”
In essence, this law is in favor of underspecification. Gall’s law can be used to explain some of the biggest companies in the world, ranging from Google to Facebook. Most of the large companies that exist today grew from simple to complex systems incrementally.
So, when building your business, it is essential to start as simple as possible. By doing this, you give yourself the building blocks to grow your company into a more complex set of systems.