What principles will you adopt to design your solution and your business? I'm a big supporter of the KISS principle. "Keep it Simple, Stupid."
Tip#2: KISS-Keep It Simple, Stupid
Wikipedia offers memorable quotes for KISS at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KISS_principle My favorite is from Antoine de Saint Exupéry's "It seems that perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." If you don't believe that take a look at Twitter.
What does this mean for an entrepreneur?
1. Don't over think it. If you are a Masters in anything, recognize you might have a tendency to over analyze, over design, and perhaps over complicate. In fact, this is a good time to bring family members into the discussion and use them as a sounding board for your proposed solution. Your eventual success will be directly proportional to the simplicity of your solution and the ability of relatively "stupid" people to use it effectively. Don't design for yourself unless you are the target audience. I recently had someone tell me that they couldn't find the login on our home page (www.nualerts.com) along with the strong suggestion to simply replicate Facebook's design.
2. Start with the simplest possible solution to the pain you have identified. Build a powerpoint story board that addresses the entire flow of your solution. Now circle your Phase 1, the least amount of functionality you will need to test out the solution. It's good to know how you will go from phase to phase expanding features as you expand your target audience.
3. Follow standards in terms of the actual user experience. People are already trained on current solutions so leverage that to your benefit. Test out other products, alternatives, competitive solutions to see how they work. Don't re-invent what is already working unless user experience is the pain you are solving.
4. The biggest problem with complexity is that it's hard to sell it. So keep everything about your business simple - from the solution to the design to the sales process to cash collections. At every step of the way ask yourself, "Can this be simplified? Can I take some complexity away?"
My parting tip - In my experience it's tough for smart people to follow KISS. It takes a certain level of self awareness and discipline to recognize when complexity is creeping in. Watch out for it.
Coming up - TIP #3: RISKY BUSINESS