Dr Seuss’ children’s book Green Eggs and Ham was brought to life following a bet between Seuss and his publisher Bennett Cerf. After the huge success of The Cat in the Hat – which Seuss wrote using a vocabulary of just 236 words – Cerf bet that Seuss couldn’t possibly write a children’s book with a smaller vocabulary. In the end, Dr Seuss won the bet and completed Green Eggs and Ham using a vocabulary of just 50 words.
The book was, and continues to be a hit, and has sold over 8 million copies since its release in 1960. Time and time again, Green Eggs and Ham is recognised for its creativity and simplicity and regularly comes out on top in compilations of the greatest children’s books of all time.
Green Eggs and Ham was universally liked, not only because it was innovative, but for its sheer simplicity. Dr Seuss approached his literature the same way rebel entrepreneurs approach their product – he made it simple. People loved it.
Many think that a brilliant idea is born from thinking big, that an entrepreneur’s creativity is boundless and that the sky’s the limit when it comes to innovation. This is true – it is important to dream big, but, as Dr Seuss demonstrates, some of the most brilliant ideas are hatched when you impose limitations on your thinking, and make it simple. Remember what Einstein advised – “Make it so simple that a 6 year old can understand it”. This is key to developing a product, service or even a message.
As I’ve said before, a lack of money in business can be a blessing in disguise. I kick-started my business on a shoestring budget by making use of the free resources that surrounded me, namely the avenues offered to rebel entrepreneurs online. It was simple, but it worked. The same is true when it comes to thinking creatively. Limiting your scope can allow you to think big within that scope.
Specialising in a particular niche can enshrine your company’s reputation. Some of the best and most profitable restaurants serve just one dish – but they do it very well. Thinking big within a smaller market will make you very focused. The scope will rid your mind of distractions and force you to think innovatively.
Working within self-imposed limitations is not about thinking small. The narrowing of your scope forces your mind to expand, to examine how you might simplify your product or service and this is what leads to innovation.