The Next Small Thing : Why bigger isn't always better

Back to the Basics: How to use your (lack of) size to your advantage

Jason Fried, creator of some of the industry's most successful new Web applications, is the champion of an approach he calls "Getting Real." While developed with software companies in mind, Fried's principles can apply to any small business that strives to do more with less.

Underdo your competition: Businesses get caught up in a cycle of adding more features and services. Great opportunities exist for those who create the same products, but with more simplicity and ease of use.

Create services you would use: Few great product and service ideas come as a result of groupthink and committee meetings. Democracy is great, Fried says, but in the product-development arena, it rarely leads to great results. Great products are the result of solving problems for yourself—and then offering solutions to others.

Fund yourself: The more money you have, the more you'll waste, Fried says. He admits that outside funding is necessary for capital-intensive businesses, but for many service businesses—especially those utilizing technology or operating online—being able to turn your business concept into reality is getting less expensive by the day.

Take half: List all the features you'd like on your product and cut them in half, Fried advises. Then, cut that list in half. Being driven by time and budget rather than by your dream list of features will result in a much more solid, workable product that won't break the bank.

Call off the meetings: Fried is not a fan of endless meetings or documents filled with specifications and details that no one reads. He'd prefer to focus on the essentials—and those don't require a lot of meetings.

- By Rex Hammock, editor

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