Occam’s Razor and why it’s hard for engineers to start companies

Starting a company. If you’ve done it before and did it successfully, then you know it’s a lot easier than most people make it out to be. Easier in the sense of being able to distinguish big ticket problems versus incremental (non-problematic) problems.

Most of you, at one point or another, have pitched a business idea to a friend, relative, or acquaintance. And chances are this person nit-picked your idea with some type of vague unimportant “roadblock”, telling you exactly why your idea wouldn’t work. Chances also are that these people have never started a company before – thus having no clue as to what creating companies is all about while talking about things they have absolutely no clue about.

The moral – don’t listen to these people and don’t become discouraged when they tell you your idea won’t work. Understand: these people don’t want you to succeed. It’s not some conscious thought on their part but rather their unconscious that’s serving to try and keep you in your place – average and mediocre along with everyone else.

Ok, so this is kind of the backdrop of where we’re at – talking about what happens when you tell other people your business ideas. But what about when the problem isn’t with the people you are telling your business idea to but rather you think your idea won’t work because it’s too simple?

Over the hundreds of emails I get, there is a common thread with the engineers.

Engineers feel like the more difficult and complex a business concept is the better and therefore the more simple an idea is the worse it is.

And yes this is a generalization (so please don’t get offended) but generalizations while not always 100% true do have truth in them.

So while there may not be anything sexy with owning a landscape company or maid service or delivery company, the fact remains that creating and running one of these the right way can make you a millionaire. I wrote a philosophical post chock full of service industry insight and you can read it here – it will definitely give you a feel for where I’m coming from with this post.

Yes, a landscaping company is simple – you cut people’s grass both residential and commercial. The longer you stay in business the more money you make. You get recurring monthly income that builds over time. The same goes for a maid company and every other service company you could start.

To an engineer these facts barely seem to register. Afterall, they spent(d) years in college performing complex mathematical calculations while becoming imbued with the idea that things have to be complex to work, when all they really need is to meet Occam’s Razor. And I get it, I too would want to put my hard earned engineering prowess towards solving complex problems, not simple easy to do ones.

Without going into too much detail about Occam’s Razor all you really need to know is the gist of it which is “the simpler solution is usually better.”

Going back to maid companies – you clean people’s homes and businesses, they pay you money via cash, credit, check or paypal. It’s simple and far from rocket science. At the end of the day you’ll make money and the longer you’re in business the more money you’ll make. And you’ll do yourself a severe disservice failing to understand that this can make anyone a millionaire.

I know at least three people that made their first million with companies of this sort. And all three had only a high school education.

So if you’re an engineer please take note – simpler is almost always better and it’s the simple things that work the best.

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