Start Small Win Big: Your Week 2 Action Plan

Step 2: Keep it simple. A couple of years ago at my company, we started asking each other a simple question whenever we’d put together any marketing materials.

It was: “Would Michael’s mother understand this?”

Michael was a guy who worked with us and his mother was not very tech savvy. We decided that if we ever explained something in a way that was too hard for her to understand, than we had done a bad job explaining it.

It turned out to be a great litmus test. So often, we make things more complicated than they need to be. It’s understandable. As small business owners, we’ve all worked hard on our offerings and are excited about every single feature we’ve developed—whether as part of a product or a service. It’s hard to imagine not including all of this in all of your materials. But, talking about too much gets confusing for an outsider who is being introduced to your company for the first time. Give them too much information too fast and you’ll turn them off.

A warning…simplifying your message can be hard. And it’s not something you should do alone.

This week’s assignment is to write a one- or two-line description of your company with two audiences in mind—one that doesn’t know anything about your business and one that is very familiar with what you do. If you’re “keeping it simple,” group one should understand what you do and group two should feel your message accurately describes what they believe you have to offer.

Now, your fellow Start Small Win Big contestants are group one—share your one-liner below and see if they understand what your business is all about.


Step 2 from the February 2013 issue of SUCCESS

Your Week 1 Action Plan on the SUCCESS Blog


Editor’s note: This is the second of eight installments for SUCCESS’s 2nd annual Start Small Win Big entrepreneur challenge. If you’re not signed up for Start Small Win Big, it’s not too late. Visit to join. 

JJ Ramberg is an author, the founder of and the host of MSNBC's small business program, Your Business. She was the featured mentor for SUCCESS' latest Start Small Win Big entrepreneur challenge. 

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