The hidden cost of complexity

July 24  

I left my corporate engineering job at the end of 2018 to be a full time entrepreneur and parent with my wife Suzi.

I couldn't stand how everything in corporate America had so much red tape... so many forms to fill out just to get a vacation request approved...

How even making the simplest of decisions would need an act of congress to approve. It was unnecessarily complicated to get anything done!

In this post, I want to give you a quick wake up call about the 4 hidden complexities that you might also experience as an entrepreneur, so you can avoid falling into the same traps as the corporations.

Specifically, we are going to talk about the complexities in your business model, technology stack, and initial sales funnel. Let's keep it simple together!


But first, let's consider Cost vs benefit

When given the choice between more cost and features vs less cost and features, I think all beginners should seek simplicity.

There are so many moving pieces already as an entrepreneur that stacking on more stuff just because you can is a recipe for disaster.

But I want to be fair. There is a time and a place for complexity. Adding another level of features and complexity might enhance your user experience. It might increase your average order value, or decrease your cost of acquiring a lead.

There are amazing metrics to move.

But whenever faced with the opportunity of adding more complexity into your business, first decide if the cost is worth the benefit.

As entrepreneurs, we should face every decision with this mindset, because every new thing comes at a cost.

In the beginning, simply finding your voice, your audience, and your niche is enough complexity for most.

Cost #1: Your Tech Stack

We are entrepreneurs because we are ambitious, we care about providing solutions to others, and we seek freedom. These are wonderful qualities in a person, but it can open up a dark pit of technological confusion.

Our ambition can cause us to seek out a completely custom way of delivering a rich experience to our users.

Our desire for freedom can sometimes lead us to obsess over minute details that others might not even notice, simply so that we can say we achieved our own vision properly (whether or not that vision actually mattered to the bottom line.)

Don't let "Great" be the Enemy of "Good". Beware the hidden costs of complexity.

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Cost #2: Sales Funnel Strategy

Here we have a couple of example sales funnels from two very well-known brands: Social Media Examiner on the left, and Tony Robbins on the right.

These funnels are polar opposites of each other.

Social Media Examiner's funnel is a model lead generation funnel with an option to make a purchase. It consists of

  • 1 Traffic source (Facebook)
  • 1 Sales Page
  • 1 Opt in Page
  • 1 Order Page
  • 1 Thank you page

On the other hand... I couldn't even start to comprehend the number of moving pieces going on with Mr. Robbins' masterpiece.

You've got dozens of traffic sources, email sequences, upsells, downsells, etc...

As ambitious entrepreneurs we all yearn to build out a successful and personalized funnel like Tony's...

But if we attempt that funnel before we are ready and before we have achieved success with a simpler version...

We can doom ourselves to failure. Click here to learn about an even simpler one page funnel you can get started with selling immediately.

Cost #3: Cost to Improve

Let's take the two complexity examples above a step farther and assume you actually implemented each one in your own business.

What's next? Improving upon the systems.?

Not "improving" by adding more stuff to it, but to make what is already there perform better.

This is where the engineers in all of us get to come out, analyze what's working and what's not, and make necessary tweaks to improve conversions.

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Ok so when looking at each system, it's going to be WAY EASIER to understand how the simple funnel is performing and to set up effective split tests to improve its performance.

Tony's funnel, however, will be a complete nightmare to track all the data and actually know what piece of the puzzle needs work.

Even scarier, because there are so many moving pieces involved, every time you try to improve something, you will feel the anxiety of is this change going to break anything??

You always want to feel confident to test each step of your process so you can find the best system for your business.

Cost #4: Cost of implementation

If you are a solopreneur, every new level of complexity is going to cost you time that you could be spending reaching new audiences and making more customers.?

If you run a team and have a tech guy, it's going to cost you money (and stress) making sure that everything continues to go as planned.

A bigger cost than each of these, however, is the cost of confidence in the system.

Don't fall into the trap of trying to build the perfect pyramid when you know in the back of your mind it's actually a house of cards.

You could very well be one plugin update away from a broken website and a faulty sales system.

You could very well be one plugin update away from a broken website and faulty sales system. Learn how to fix the cost of complexity in your online business.

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When you keep things simple, you have the confidence that your system is working, and you can direct much needed energy into your marketing, outreach, product creation, and all the other aspects of your online business that deserve attention.

The solution: a minimum viable funnel

A minimum viable funnel is all you need when starting out and building your list. It has a few key components:

  • One Free Offer
  • One Paid Offer
  • One Email Sequence

The beauty of this funnel is that you can get one up and running in about an hour (once you know what to offer), and you can easily track its performance and make tweaks over time.

Lead magnet not converting? Try some different headlines, a video vs image, or swap out a new offer altogether.

One time offer not converting? Try reducing the price point, changing the sales video or text, etc.

Emails not getting opened? Test different headlines, call to actions, etc.

You get the idea - every new step in the process presents new opportunities to optimize. But too many steps can quickly become overwhelming, so start out with the minimum viable funnel.????

The Power of the MVF

It seems like everyone wants to sell you on the latest tactic or "ninja hack" to make your stuff sell, but ultimately - it's the power of your offer that sells, not the tactics you use. In a nutshell:

  • Great Tech + Bad Offer = Bad Sales
  • Bad Tech + Great Offer = Some Sales
  • Great Tech + Great Offer = Make It Rain

If you can use the MVF to get your funnel profitable, then it's time to advance and accelerate the profits.

How to advance Beyond the Minimum Viable Funnel

If you took my advice and started basic, you might wonder if you're doomed to deal with the sacrifices your setup has caused you.

Fear not - once you have an offer that converts, you can definitely start to add the bells and whistles that can increase your business.

But two pieces of advice:

Only Solve The Burning Problems

Don't go frothing at the mouth and decide to blow everything up because your offer works. You still want to keep things as simple as possible!

But if there is one piece of your business (whether it be tech, strategy, or otherwise) that you know is holding you back, it's time to invest.

Maybe your email autoresponder has poor automations and you don't have a good handle on who your hottest leads are... maybe it's time to upgrade to Drip.

Maybe your shopping cart solution doesn't allow upsells and downsells... might be time to introduce Cartflows to your business.

The point here is that you shouldn't just go spending your budget on any new shiny object you can. Be strategic, and always keep simplicity at the heart of all your decisions.

Only Solve One Problem At A Time

Much like split testing your landing page, when you change too many things at once, you can't really judge which change is making all the difference.

Now, if you change a bunch of stuff and your sales go through the roof... who really cares which piece did the trick? Just go buy your wife something nice and keep scaling.

But what if you change several things... and the sales slow down or stop? Which change was it that you need to undo?

So take it slow, methodically, and be deliberate about where you choose to add complexity into your business.

Your Turn

Confession time: do you find yourself chasing shiny objects or adding complexity to your business where it simply isn't needed?

It's ok - totally a judgment free zone here. But leave a comment below and let me know which change really threw you for a loop and what you did to solve it!

About the Author

John Whitford is an entrepreneur who has built over 12 profitable online blogs and businesses. He's also the founder of Unbeatable Tech, a data-driven digital marketing company that specializes in sales funnel implementation for both his own businesses and clients alike. John loves to be a beach bum while brainstorming new ideas for marketing strategies, but he's always excited to take on another project!