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Raise Your Prices
Why we need to "do less" and "charge more" in order to achieve great things.
On the path to achieving our goals, most people try to do too much. Then, when they feel overwhelmed, they try to implement automations or “productivity hacks” that allow them to do more with less (time). The problem is, much like wedding planning, more time available tends to mean more work, regardless of its actual impact on desired outcomes.1
Why does this happen? In my experience, doing work or completing tasks (“task orientation”) gives us the illusion that we are in control of a situation that in reality can’t be controlled. Task orientation is a natural human response to the inability to sit with uncertainty or risk and be confident that one can handle whatever may come. In his book, Four Thousand Weeks, Oliver Burkeman defines this challenge of “doing less” as the paradox of limitation:
“All of this illustrates what might be termed the paradox of limitation…the more you try to manage your time with the goal of achieving a feeling of total control, and freedom from the inevitable constraints of being human, the more stressful, empty, and frustrating life gets. But the more you confront the facts of finitude instead—and work with them, rather than against them—the more productive, meaningful, and joyful life becomes.”
Startups sit squarely at this intersection of “can’t control the outcome” and “avalanche of never-ending tasks to complete.” I was recently catching up with one of our portfolio company CEOs facing this challenge. He framed his approach to managing that challenge as trying to do 15% less. I proposed a slightly different framing…Raise Your Prices. The most valuable companies don’t just increase production when demand exceeds supply, they increase prices until demand declines. That (almost always) creates more enterprise value than just making more units at the same margin. Why shouldn’t we have this same framework with our most precious resource…time?
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed and like there’s not enough time in the day to do everything, skip the Zapier integrations and AI-enabled CRMs…just Raise Your Prices :)
This concept is also referred to as Parkinson’s Law, which says that “the duration of public administration, bureaucracy and officialdom expands to fill its allotted time span, regardless of the amount of work to be done. This was attributed mainly to two factors: that officials want subordinates, not rivals, and that officials make work for each other.”