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Humans have a destructive tendency to overcomplicate things. Building a small business is no different.

The essence of a successful business is incredibly simple. As Paul Graham says, you have to build something people want. Expanded just a little, you have to create something that solves a problem or addresses a desire for people in a way they’re willing to pay for.

Simple, right? Simple, but not easy.

Building a business isn’t easy by any means, but entrepreneurs often have themselves to blame for much of what makes building a business so hard.

For example, it’s suddenly not good enough to grow an email list. Now we’re told we have to segment our email list and customize what we send to each subscriber. Thus, turning what’s already a huge effort into a huge effort times two.

It’s not good enough to pick one social platform and do it well. We’re told we have to be everywhere, all the time.

It’s not good enough to create one solid product and grow it. We’re told we have to create up-sells and cross-sells and down-sells and “tripwires.” Yuck.

The #1 problem we hear entrepreneurs complain about is not having enough time. Who could possibly have the time to do all of the above? Don’t count the gurus and a-listers who told you to do all this in the first place, they have huge teams, elaborate processes, workaholic tendencies, and an incentive to tell you about the newest shiny thing.

It’s just not realistic for a solo entrepreneur, let alone one with a day job, or god forbid a family, or a life.

Likewise, we tend to overcomplicate success itself. Surely it can’t be that simple. Once we find something that works, we have to move on to the next channel, the next product, the next technology, don’t we? That’s how you grow a business, right?

This is where most of us get stuck. We experience a modicum of success, then start looking for something that can take us to the next level… when that thing might be right under our noses.

Here’s the boring reality of growing a business: sometimes success is about resisting the urge to second-guess the formula. Sometimes success is just about doing what works, then doing that thing again, and again, and again, over and over and over.

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “what got you here won’t get you there” before?

Well, what gets you to initial success is an intense process of trial-and-error, of searching and experimenting. But maybe, this isn’t what will get you there. Once you’ve found what works, maybe your job is to perfect that thing BEFORE you branch out and optimize.

Building a business is hard enough, without giving in to the temptation to overcomplicate things.

Instead, do what works, then do it again and again, and again.

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