Use The McNugget Principle To Win At Business And Life

Human beings are inherently lazy (substitute the word efficient if you prefer). And therein lies a tremendous opportunity.

In a world of increasing complexity and time poverty, people are more willing than ever to pay for convenience. I can buy a pound of chicken and some breadcrumbs for about $2.50. I can buy frozen chicken nuggets from Costco for about $5. Or I can buy 60 Chicken McNuggets from McDonalds for about $20.

The same principle that applies to lumps of friend chicken also applies to everything else in business and life.

Let’s say that I want to join a startup. If I join an existing startup, even as a senior executive, I would be wildly lucky to get 5% of the equity. On the other hand, if I successfully start my own company, I could have 50% or more of the equity, even after raising a first round of funding. Yes, it is harder to start your own company, but is it 10X harder? 100X harder? (Note: Yes, 5% of Google is more than 50% of just about anything else, but for every farsighted person who took a job at Google in the early days, another 100 took jobs at “safe” companies like Excite and AltaVista).

As an entrepreneur, your job is to take raw chicken and breadcrumbs and turn them into neatly packaged McNuggets for your customers and investors. The good news is that chicken and breadcrumbs (technical talent, hardware, software, and services) are cheaper and more widely available than ever. You just have to be willing to get your hands dirty with chicken guts. (Note: And be lucky–luck is definitely one of the 11 secret herbs and spices).

Nor is this principle limited to the business world. When I want to give back to the community, I think it’s crazy not to start or run your own non-profit or movement. Whether its HBSTech, The SDForum Startup SIG, the Silicon Valley Junto, as the founder or chairman, the benefits and exposure that I receive far outstrip those I’d get for simply volunteering, and it’s not as if taking a leadership role takes that much more time. (Side note: The secret to making this work is finding a great partner to shoulder most of the burden–thanks Karae, Nancy, and Ben!)

Heck, just think about the last time you and your friends wanted to hold a get together. The easiest way to shape the discussion is to simply do a little extra legwork to find a venue and activity, then offer it as an convenient, McNugget-like option. Rather than the painful “so, what do you want to do,” discussion, your buddies will quickly adopt your plan. (Either that, or reject it for being lame, and then tease you mercilessly. But I never promised a risk-free course of action!)

How have you applied the McNugget principle to create attractive and convenient packages for customers, investors, and friends?

2 thoughts on “Use The McNugget Principle To Win At Business And Life

  1. Ummm…. aren’t you an employee who joined a startup?

    I think another post is required 🙂

  2. Back in 2002, however attractive the McNugget, no investor was buying. Timing is everything.

    Speaking of which, if you’re making McNuggets today, better find a way to differentiate beyond the flavor of the dipping sauce….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *