Introducing Constraints to Your Product Can Help You Find New Lines of Business

When filming Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harrison Ford was too weak from a case of dysentery and the 130° Tunisian heat to handle a planned 3½ page fight scene. Ford suggested a more expedient option to director Steven Spielberg — “We had Indy pull out his revolver and dispatch the dude.” A particularly nasty constraint led to a character-defining scene in an iconic movie. 

I think constraints are so vital to running your business that you should invent them.

Business Thrives on Constraints

If you believe you’re charging a good price for your product, service, or experience, you have a Choose Your Own Adventure scenario when a potential customer tells you they think it’s too expensive. 

There are other options, but I mostly see 1 and 2. Both seem unwise in my opinion.

Ignoring the market is silly, unless your strategy is to go out of business. But arbitrarily lowering your price undermines the value that you initially claimed. Choosing option 3 means you can still meet a real market need by listening to what potential customers want, and then delivering something valuable to them within a new set of constraints that you control.

Welcome to LogoLand

When I was iterating through the business model for my latest venture LogoLand, I focused on an adjacent market to my brand identity business (small biz owners who typically value a commodity website at $3–5k and needed a logo), and I worked backwards to a price point I thought that market could bear ($1500 for a logo). 

All that was left to do was figure out how to deliver a great logo at that price, and build a business around it. :)

Constraints Are Magical

I didn’t ignore a clear market need by telling those potential customers what things “should” cost. I didn’t lower the price of my existing services just because these potential customers wanted me to. And I absolutely didn’t lower the quality of the product(s) I was offering. I changed the rules of engagement by introducing new constraints. 

In the process, I created a whole new line of business.

How do you sell a service that, on the surface, looks similar to your typical offering, but only costs a small percentage of your typical fee? Bring on the constraints.

First I constrained scope — it’s just a logo, not the full brand identity work my design studio does. That wasn’t enough. Then I constrained time to further reduce scope — LogoLand designs and delivers a logo in a week. It still wasn’t there. Then I constrained choice — there’s no seemingly endless rounds of revisions. Customers purchase the service, and a week later they get a logo. There’s no back and forth, so they can focus on doing what they do best (running their business) and we can focus on what we do best (making them a professional logo at a great price in a week).

Now we were getting somewhere! Now this business could function at a specific price point at scale, with room to grow. Only by constraining the business could I grow the business.

Don’t Ignore or Discount, Constrain

With LogoLand, I want to provide a service to small businesses, but I have to do it in a way that makes business sense for my small business. Introducing constraints that scale back a product/service without sacrificing quality is one of the best ways to get there.