Kelford Labs Daily: Some of everything or all of nothing

Focus to grow, expand to shrink

Kelford Labs Daily: Some of everything or all of nothing
“Looking back, this is one of my biggest regrets. We could have been the smartwatch for hackers but we tried to grow our volumes and market share (and failed).”

— Eric Migicovsky, founder of the Pebble smartwatch

There’s a heuristic I call “Some of Everything, or All of Nothing.”

When we try to capture an entire market, customer segment, or opportunity, we end up creating innumerable complexities and competitors.

When we choose to seize all of something, we typically end up with nothing at all.

The Pebble smartwatch made this mistake, as its founder wrote in 2022. Instead of focusing on their core customers and having some of everything, they wanted to grow their volume and capture more and more of smartwatch market.

And they ended up with all of nothing.

Instead, as Migicovsky wrote, they “should not have aggressively grown the company without a stronger plan.” They “should have just stuck to what [they] knew best and continued to build quirky, fun smartwatches for hackers.”

Companies like Pebble could have had some of everything, a piece of a growing market. But in their zeal to grow and grow and grow they lost what made them special. Unique. Valuable.

If we want to grow, we need to look for opportunities to have some of everything—our share based on our unique value and our particular focus on a specific customer.

Otherwise, we’ll just grow our complexity, our competitors, and our confusion about what we’re actually best at.

And we’ll end up with all of nothing.

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